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BOB PEGG - The Last Wolf

BOB PEGG - The Last Wolf
Talking Elephant TECD401

Here’s a welcome (and overdue) reissue for Bob’s landmark 1996 album, which delivered definitive accounts of a dozen of his own then-most-recent compositions (written during the previous two decades), recorded mostly in a rented farm cottage in Ardross, north of Inverness. As with all Bob’s songs, the sense of place is strongly pervasive and central to the stories they tell (themselves often based on local legends). The Priest, The Dancer And The Drummer is set in Harehills, Leeds, and the epic Fiddler’s Cross in a Dales village; the cycle of Calderdale Songs (which includes the delectably wicked tale of The Last Dance) was written for the 1978 Hebden Bridge Festival. A Dram For The Singer, composed shortly after Bob relocated to the Scottish Highlands, also plugs into ancient traditions. The Last Wolf and The Wildwood Song are powerfully imagined and memorably expressed commentaries on endangered or extinct species.

This splendid reissue appends some 22 minutes’ worth of invaluable bonus material. First there’s The Chapeltown Hawk, hitherto only available on a Rhiannon Records sampler. After which come four recordings of Last Wolf material taken from a live concert at the 1998 Highland Traditional Music Festival – superb performances from Bob and supporting cast Christine McClenaghan, Olivia Ross and Jim Gaitens (all of whom featured on the original album). The reissue also sports a booklet containing new notes by Bob himself – but curiously not the essential song lyrics – plus revamped credits (which unforgivably omit Chris Coe’s stunning guest contribution on Lament Of The Farmer’s Young Wife). Such careless presentation lapses rather undermine the impact of this crucial and desirable reissue, IMHO.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 125 of The Living Tradition magazine.