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Talking Elephant Records TECD460 

The second of Maartin Allcock’s solo albums, dating from 1999, is here given a re-release on the Talking Elephant label, having been out of circulation for some time (originally on the New Day label). Maart’s untimely demise in 2018 robbed the folk scene of a mammoth talent – tunesmith, multi-instrumentalist, publisher and member of multiple bands including Fairport and Tull (at times concurrently). The album’s title refers to the postcode of the various studios in the Banbury region where this splendid album took shape. In fact, his guest performers on this album include both Tull and Fairport members, the ubiquitous Troy Donockley and the leading mandolin virtuoso Simon Mayor. Although permanently in demand as a session player, here his mates return the favour, in spadefuls.

These 12 tracks are an ideal showcase for Maart’s instrumental talents – too many to detail here. Suffice to say he was a master of many, and here he is at his absolute peak, some three years after his departure from Fairport and eight years after his Tull involvement. A personal highlight for me is a cover of the Allman Brothers’ Jessica (otherwise known as the Top Gear theme) coupled with the traditional The Wind That Shakes The Barley. A marriage made in music heaven.

Maart’s opportunities to let rip on the electric guitar on, for example, Simple and Daichovo Chara, sum up what an inventive musician he was – inventive but always complementary to the parent piece. In addition, there is his interpretation of traditional pieces, for example Bean A’Tí Ar Lár, which could have been a refugee from a mid-period Fairport album. Tinged with sadness at Maart’s passing, this will bring a smile to his many followers.

Grem Devlin


This review appeared in Issue 141 of The Living Tradition magazine