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Pyegreave Records PYCD100

Nigel Hammill was a regular at the iconic Marsden Inn folk club in South Shields in the mid 1960s, and that club's eclectic approach to “folk” music is reflected in this excellent recording. Now resident in Cheshire, Nigel is backed by the Langley Village Allstars, a one-off, but very experienced band of individuals based around his adopted village, and including ex 10cc drummer Michael Gilborne.

“I never contemplated a solo album”, says Nigel, but he was persuaded to do so by his singer/songwriter pal George Borowski, and the professionalism of the final package is obvious. Homage is paid to the Birtley folk club and the inspiration it was, and continues to be, to traditional music in County Durham. Like the Marsden and Birtley clubs, there are no hang-ups here about whether it's “folk” or not, good music being exactly that.

From Jack Elliott's Rap Her To Bank, the Ed Pickford classics Nee Bliddy Good and the Tortoise to Victorian Geordie anthems like Cushie Butterfield, Nigel leads us into the 1960s skipjive classic In The Summertime, giving a real goodtime music feel about this whole project.

George Borowski is a prolific songwriter, and Nigel makes a great job of the Blue Guitars Of Texas as well as his current favourite song Point Of Light, featuring a remarkable organ solo by Paul Hambley. There's a bit of skiffle, just like at the Marsden in the 60s, and a grand rockin' version of the classic Shake, Rattle And Roll to follow, with a perfect finisher in the title track, Alan Bell's emotional Here's To You. This track is a bit special, and a pipe solo by villager James Gray of the Manchester Scots Guards makes it even more so.

Overall, an excellent production, with well designed and informative sleeve notes. It's already selling well locally, email for more info.

Jim Bainbridge

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This album was reviewed in Issue 89 of The Living Tradition magazine.