Link to Living Tradition Homepage





VARIOUS ARTISTS - Out Of Reach: Folk Music From Cambridgeshire Pub Sessions

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Out Of Reach: Folk Music From Cambridgeshire Pub Sessions
Treewind Music TWD015

Reading the informative notes to this production, the Dykes’ End pub in Reach, Cambridgeshire, (hence the CD title) sounds like a great pub, with an open fire, friendly locals and even its own brewery - so why on earth was this recorded in a studio? The title is misleading, as I’d hoped for the kind of relaxed East Anglian ambience to be enjoyed in such early recording gems as were made years ago in the Blaxhall Ship and more recently by John Howson in his Suffolk recordings for Veteran.

To be fair, it seems that the tunes on this melodeon-centred CD are 'session tunes' as played by this group of musicians in various pubs around the Cambridge area, and all proceeds are for Cancer Research, so it's hard to be too critical, as their collective heart is obviously in the right place.

However, 'traditional music' (as this music is described in the notes) is often not best served by the unsympathetic atmosphere implicit in studio recording. This can be overcome, and indeed has been in the past, but when such inbuilt sterility is combined with a selection of tunes predominately from 200 year old manuscripts, the result bears little resemblance to traditional music as I understand it.

There seems to be an increasing fad (in Scots and Irish circles also) for unearthing more and more obscure material, although one positive aspect of this CD is that any English musician seeking 'new' tunes will find a rich source here. However, it seems obvious to me that the tradition operates its own weeding process, that tunes often fall out of use for good reasons and many are maybe best left in print form for academics on Folk Music university courses. This is a generalisation, of course, as much good material has been re-absorbed by the tradition over the years. I'm sure that these musicians have great fun at their sessions, although it's hard to tell from this recording.

This may not be to my taste, but the recording quality is excellent (which presumably is the main benefit of not recording in the pub venue?), the notes are comprehensive and well- presented and the playing is accurate and co-ordinated. It's to raise money for an excellent cause, and if all you want is a few 'new' tunes for your local English session, this could be for you.

Jim Bainbridge

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 97 of The Living Tradition magazine.