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PHIL TANNER (Narration By Wynford Vaughan Thomas) "The Gower Nightingale" Veteran VT145CD

This album represents another excursion for Veteran - this time into the beautiful Gower peninsular to explore the voice and repertoire of Phil Tanner, one of the good old boys, recorded by the BBC in the 1930s and 40s. Roy Palmer provides insightful commentary on the songs, many of which are familiar - Banks of Sweet Primroses, Gower Wassail, Henry Martin, Oyster Girl, Fair Phoebe and the Dark-eyed Sailor, Bonny Bunch of Roses - some were published in broadside form in the 19th century, indeed many of these songs turn up in the Ingrave (Essex) collection of Ralph Vaughan Williams (1903-4)- an indication of the "travel" of a good song from diammetrically extreme edges of England and Wales. Phil Tanner was born into a musical family in 1862 and was in his eighties when the last of these recordings was made. He was still at the height of his powers and able to blast through The Gower Reel aka, Manchester Hornpipe/Pigeon on the Gate - via his version of (Gower) mouth music. The project is well worthwhile but I could have done with less narration; much of it is a little stagey in inflection and on occasions inaccurate in trying to establish an entirely Welsh provenance for the songs, tunes and style. However this proves a small price to pay to hear a singer from well before the folk revival who could really deliver a song.

Tony Kendall

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This album was reviewed in Issue 57 of The Living Tradition magazine.