They Smiled as We Cam In
Springthyme SPRCD 1042
Jock Hawk's Adventures; The Fair o Balnafinnan; The Last o the Clydesdales; The Nutting Girl; Bonnie Ship The Diamond; Calder's Clear Stream; Glenlogie (Bonnie Jean o Bethelnie); Grat for Gruel; Banks of Newfoundland; Atween Stanehive and Laurencekirk; Rhynie; Bleacher Lassie o Kelvinhaugh; My Auld Sheen; Dowie Dens o Yarrow; Ye Boys o Callieburn.Having recently returned from Whitby festival, where Shepheard, Spiers & Watson were guests for the third year running, I can tell you that the title of this, their first CD, is overwhelmingly appropriate - there were smiles a-plenty wherever these three appeared.
When I first heard them last year, I was prompted to declare "This is folk music for grownups!", and nothing I heard this year, or on this splendid CD, has changed my opinion. For those of you (and there will be many) who've not yet had the pleasure of hearing them, I should tell you that Pete Shepheard plays melodeon, Tom Speirs plays fiddle and Arthur Watson plays whistle - and all three sing ... gloriously! Only one will sing any particular song (as is only right and proper), the other two join in the chorus where there is one (Arthur has a fine line in soaring harmonies), or play exceptionally appropriate accompaniments. As Martin Carthy states in the liner notes 'Again and again they give an object lesson in how to accompany song. Any kind of song. The pulse is always there but they do not seem ever to be bound hand and foot to a metronome - which, of course, is how ordinary people sing.'
Another great plus to this CD is that, despite the familiarity of the song titles (above), I don't think that there's a single one which I've heard before in exactly this version, and often they've found a quite startlingly different version to sing.
A short review is often a subtle indication that the reviewer can't find much positive to say about the record in question: this is far from the case here. It's so good that mere words are a very poor substitute for listening to it - nor will sound clips ever give a real indication of the sheer quality of any of these 3 and 4 minute songs. Please just take my word for it and go and buy a copy - you'll thank me if you do!
Actually, the CD was only published last weekend, and should be available from www.springthyme.co.uk, and on most UK CD websites in the next few days - or ring 01337 830773 if you can't wait.
Rod Stradling - 30.8.05