Out of the Box
Country Branch CBCD 235
Not for Joe Polka / Untitled Polka; Grace Bell's Barndance / Untitled Schottische; William Taylor; Untitled Jig; Pearl O'Shaughnessy's Barndance; The Trooper; Waltz Medley - Sweet Smiling Faces / Sailor Cut Down / When I Grow Too Old to Dream; Schottische No. 17; The Iron Door; Untitled Polka; High Low Schottische / Untitled Schottische; Joe Muggins; The Evening Three Step; Schottische No. 9; Trip Unto The Fair; Welch Family Polka; Untitled Hornpipe / Dorset Hornpipe; The Long, Long Wail; The Bird In Nellie's Hat / Hopscotch Schottische.This is a CD which, I would imagine, many MT readers will have been awaiting for some time. Will is a superlative anglo concertina player, with an unusual repertoire drawn manily from the musicians of his home county of Sussex - and particularly from the playing of Scan Tester. Although much of Scan's music has been long available on the Veteran double cassette I Never Played to Many Posh Dances (VTVS03/04), I'm not aware of too many of his tunes making their way into the revivalist repertoire; his playing is not particularly easy to follow and learn. So it's a delight to find 14 of them here, wonderfully played ... two of them on Scan's own concertina. Have a quick listen to the start of track 1 (sound clip - Not for Joe Polka)
He somehow manages to make complex music sound simple ... by being a very technically good musician who's more interested in the music than in being impressive, perhaps? Yet impressive he is, no question - and even ventures into overdub mode by playing the final set of tunes on both his concertinas! (sound clip - The Bird In Nellie's Hat - which, previously, I had only known as Scan Tester's Schottische)
If Will's consumate concertina playing isn't enough for you, we also find six of his songs to be enjoyed. I think he's one of the most accomplished of English revival singers, and possessed of a unique (or certainly, individual) style. He's a quiet man with a lovely dry sense of humour which pervades his four funny songs here, and somehow even quietly seeps into the two serious ones.
His William Taylor comes from the singing of Gordon Hall, and so is a very complete version, equipped with both the Spanish Lady's melody and 'counting backwards' chorus! The Irish song The Iron Door come from Gladys Stone of Fittleworth, and is another very full version with a great tune and loads of internal rhyming, while Joe Muggins is a hilarious paraody of Lord Lovell (sound clip). This is all very good stuff indeed.
This terrific CD (with cover artwork by Tony Hall, you may have noticed) is available from Will himself - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or from Musical Traditions Records.
Rod Stradling - 12.4.08
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