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RUSS CHANDLER - On The Roof Of Your House, All Alone 

RUSS CHANDLER - On The Roof Of Your House, All Alone 
Private Label RCMP001 

Six years on from his previous CD, Last Night In Babylon, comes a further, similarly eclectic collection of six songs from Walthamstow’s finest. As with its predecessor, the songs on this new release are propelled along by Russ’s signature innovative and driving banjo playing and his strong singing voice, which suits the material down to the ground.

Russ’s thesis is that there’s a wealth of material from the late music-hall period preserved on 78 rpm records still awaiting (re-) discovery, so – fittingly – this collection is bookended by a pair of songs associated with “master of silliness” Leslie Sarony (although he only actually wrote the second of them, Don’t Do That To The Old Puss Cat – a cat-astrophic tale indeed!). Here, as throughout, Russ has chosen his co-conspirators with care – for instance vocalist Matthew Crampton on both Sarony numbers; Matt Quinn’s characterful concertina on the recording’s central epic Life In The East Of London; and Rachel Weston’s heartfelt singing on Zog Nit Keyn Mol, a Partisan’s Song from the Vilna ghetto). The other tracks I’ve not mentioned are no poor relation either: a powerful account of No Master by William Morris (from the 1884 Chants For Socialists collection) and an equally masterly take on Clive Palmer’s wistful love song, Paris.

Russ has produced another distinctive and compelling record – but it’s a pity it’s not a full-length album this time.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 126 of The Living Tradition magazine.