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Talking Elephant TECD264

I expect many of you are already aware of my stance on ‘concept’ albums, and I usually tend to think twice about reviewing such items. This one had instant appeal – yet another Ashley Hutchings compendium, comprising 16 tracks covering much of his almost 50 year career, loosely grouped around a WW1 theme (I know that there have been a few this year, and there might even be a further three years of the same, but that isn’t a criticism).

Some tracks revisit earlier milestones, for example the 1980 Battle Of The Somme is included (with the classic Graeme Taylor guitar solo), a tune he was first associated with on the Albion Country Band’s Battle Of The Field album.

Other gems include Betteshanger Treasure, by Ridgeriders (1999) and The Party’s Over by the Albion Band (1991) both of which include rare forays from Phil Beer into alien territory as a lead vocalist. The latter was probably one of the last contributions from Phil Beer before he parted to pursue his career with Show Of Hands (in fact his last performance with them was at Bromyard that year, if my memory serves me right) and features a stupendous lead guitar finale. The Bonny Labouring Boy by The Lark Rise Band (2008) is another timeless classic. Mind you, in the midst of all this joy, the affair is balanced by items such as The Day When The Doctor Called In The Relieving Officer, which is right on the money for the concept of the album, but perhaps detracts from the spirit, and John Barleycorn, both of which are from the Lark Rise Band (2008). No matter, viewed as a whole the album works for me.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 105 of The Living Tradition magazine.