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THE DRUIDS - Pastime With Good Company

THE DRUIDS - Pastime With Good Company
Talking Elephant Records TECD307

What an inspired decision to re-release this Argo album for a new generation of ‘Folkies’! It is a refreshing honest album which reminded me why I became interested in folk singing in the first place. 1972 seems like a long time ago now, a different time and a different world, so often artistic endeavour from a different era can appear to a contemporary eye, or in this case ear, outdated, naive and even crass, but not so with this album. Considering the age of the work, Pastime With Good Company stands up incredibly well. The voices are clear, refreshing, bright and confidant with great harmonies throughout. The vocal balance is exemplary; a young Keith Kendrick is prominent, ably supported by John Adams, Mick Hennessy and Dave Broughton. However it is the addition of a strong and powerful female voice that helps to set this album apart. Judi Longden creates a flawless foil to the robust singing of the four men, her voice harmonises perfectly, creating a full balanced sound that is a joy to listen to.

The CD is neatly divided into two categories creating a fine balance between dance music and song. All of the instrumental tracks are played with verve and panache, demonstrating a rapport with the various tunes and the instruments employed to create it. In fact, it is the instrumental element that took me back to my early ceilidh dancing days, especially the final chord that indicates the end of the tune. This final triumphant flourish, to my ears, seems to have gone slightly out of fashion today but made me smile nonetheless. Now to consider the vocal element of the album, so many of these songs have certainly proved the test of time. Some are from the tradition and some, relatively new in 1972, have surely now become part of the tradition in their own right. There are so many good songs, all performed with great attack and empathy, on the CD that it is very difficult to single out any one of them. However All’s Dear But Poor Man’s Labour is a fine song which I am sure, with the passage of time, still remains close to Keith’s heart. The Leaves Of Life is an interesting song that deserves to be sung more often, the treatment here is again sublime and inspirational. Finally, what can be said about The Pick And The Maltshovel by Roger Watson other than I’m so glad he passed the Nottinghamshire pub of the same name and gave the world such a fine song for us all to below out the choruses of ever since.

This is a worthy album of exceedingly well crafted music which begs the question, what else is out there that can be given a new lease of life?

John Oke Bartlett

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This album was reviewed in Issue 114 of The Living Tradition magazine.