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Red Sky Records RSKCD122 

This is a compilation double album, where Johnny’s selected the best from his many solo albums. With a running time of nearly two hours, it represents value for money. Both of the discs contain 15 songs. The first, he calls Band/electric selection: the second, his Acoustic selection.

When you consider the quality musicians appearing on Disc 1, then you realise the respected place that Johnny has achieved in folk royalty. I won’t take up space listing the names, but I must mention one. And that is Mick Dolan. Not only was he recording engineer on several of the tracks, but his glorious electric guitar is in evidence on every track but one. And in May Not Be Far Away, we have a magical guitar solo from him. So sad he couldn’t share equal billing: such a loss when he died in Marmaris in 2014.

And Mick is very evident in Disc 2, since he recorded a dozen of the tracks selected, and plays on a couple. This was the disc for me, with several standout tracks. The sweetly lyrical Rydal opens it; Postcards From Cornwall makes you kid people you have dust in your eye; Come Live With Me And Be My Love is a gorgeous setting for a Christopher Marlowe poem; and it all ends with the jewel in the crown, This Night The Stars. It’s a setting by Johnny of an early Leonard Clark poem celebrating the view across Severn Vale from the Forest of Dean. Quite sublime.

Dai Woosnam


This review appeared in Issue 132 of The Living Tradition magazine