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There is no doubt that Brass Monkey are one of the most important bands to appear in the world of folk music-if not one of the most prolific. Their first album was released in 1983, their follow up some three years later, but then it was a further 12 before their next. They kept up the 3 year cycle with Going And Staying before Flame And Fire which is the current offering. True, there was a period of inactivity due to individual commitments and the problems of fees being too small to support a large band.

The line up is basically the same as it always has been-Martin Carthy, John Kirkpatrick, Martin Brinsford, Roger Williams and Howard Evans. Carthy and Kirkpatrick share vocals, the brass section gives the band their unique sound whilst it's all kept together by the drums and accordion.

When Brass Monkey first appeared on the scene their sound was full of surprises, although the foundations had been laid on Martin's solo work and with John in Home Service, but that is not the case now-thank goodness. On Flame Of Fire you know what you are going to get-top quality interpretations of English music-and very good it is too. There is no point in mentioning favourite tracks, mine change every time I hear it. As you would expect from Topic Records the whole production is good, especially the source notes and photography.

Over the twenty years since that first Brass Monkey Cd we have seen the emergence of some exceptional young talent-many of who weren't even a twinkle then-so it is good to see a group of the 'old un's' who are still able to produce something of this quality. But don't take my word for it, go out and buy Flame And Fire. Better still go and see them at their rare live gigs. An excellent piece of work.

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 56 of The Living Tradition magazine.