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ALAN PROSSER "Makerfield" Rafting Dig Records RD002

It is hard to believe that this is the stalwart guitarist responsible for the driving, forceful sound of the Oysterband. For this is largely an album of sublimely sensitive solo instrumental guitar work. It is thoughtful stuff that never bores: at no stage does one wonder "is this the last piece played backwards?" (And that CAN happen with some solo instrumental albums!)

And to be fair, Prosser must realise it himself, because he relies on a variety of tempos and styles to ensure that that old ennui does not set in. And so concerned is he to give us variety, that he goes the extra mile, and throws in a couple of his songs. Alas here, it is a mile TOO far!

Of 'River of Steel', his liner notes say that it "came from a bad experience in Vienna". To be charitable, let me not say that it sounds like it: let me instead wish him a quick return to Vienna, and a GOOD experience, so he can write a better song.

But this is largely an instrumental album: and judged on THAT basis, a very respectable one. But one howler in the liner booklet is not so respectable.

The writer (not Prosser) says the following: ".trying to fathom how the great English players - Davy Graham, John Martyn, Bert Jansch and Martin Carthy - managed to do that on their guitars".

Now, by my reckoning, he is only 50% right.and THAT is pushing a tiny bit, since Davy Graham had a Guyanese mother and a dad from the Isle of Skye: a father, furthermore, who was a Scots Gaelic teacher! So DG was not exactly your quintessential ENGLISH guitarist.

Ha! Is there any wonder that many Scots wanted their own Parliament?

Dai Woosnam

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This album was reviewed in Issue 55 of The Living Tradition magazine.