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JOHN TAMS - The Reckoning 

JOHN TAMS - The Reckoning 
Topic Records TTSCD006 

The latest in the Topic Treasures series is a welcome re-issue of JT’s 2005 album, his third solo effort, but ground-breaking at the time, and including songs that still feature in live sets to this day. The significant collaborators were Graeme Taylor on guitar (who had been an ‘Albion’ and in Home Service with Tams) and Barry Coope, another Derbyshire native who had been a member of Muckram Wakes (but a number of years after Tams had left) on vocals and keyboards.

As one would expect, there is a constant vibe throughout this album, that speaks of working-class values – with, at their heart, the sensibility of someone who commits 110% to everything he sings. Although his Albion contributions predate this, and War Horse followed shortly after, this is frozen in time as Tams at his most innovative, and laying his influences bare – name checking Lennon and McCartney in the first track, providing a fine new version of Man Of Constant Sorrow, and giving the traditional Bitter Withy and A Sailor’s Life a new lease of life.

It is standard with re-issues to provide ‘extras’, space permitting, and here we have three nods at Americana that sit comfy alongside the core album, including the superb Sweet Home Oklahoma. Well packaged, with new, extensive notes, this is an outstanding release that gets both my thumbs up. How I missed this one the first time round is a mystery to me – but I’m overjoyed that the new version is available.

Grem Devlin


This review appeared in Issue 130 of The Living Tradition magazine