Quanting QCD 20.03

1. Greencastle / Rosalie, My Prairie Flower;  2. Walter Bulwer's March No. 1;  3. Harry's Waltz;  4. Butter / Dogger / Dolphin;  5. Moneymusk / Harry Cox's Jig;  6. Ladies' Triumph / Gypsies in the Wood;  7. Herbert Smith's Polka/Heel & Toe Polka;  8. Robert Mallinson's Jig;  9. George Watson's Country Dance;  10. Walter Bulwer's March No. 2;  11. Harry Cox's Schottisches;  12. Elegant Motor Car / Two Black Eyes/See-saw;  13. Whistling Rufus / Cromarty Polka March;  14. Uncle Walter's Polka / 4th of March;  15. Trip to the Cottage / Low-Backed Car;  16. Egbert Thorn's Jig / Ward the Pirate;  17. Walter Bulwer's Polkas 4 & 3;  18. Uncle Walter's March / In & Out Windows;  19. Perfect Cure / Herbert Mallett's Jig No. 2;  20. Winter's Night Schottische;  21. Cliff Hornpipe / Yarmouth Hornpipe.
Two very different products of the Revival dropped through my letter-box within the past four days.  One lasts for 37 minutes, the other for 77.  One offers twice the music for the same price.  Do you want the good news or the bad news?  Well, given the dire state of society at present, let's start with the good.

Hushwing are a seven-piece band from Norfolk, who have made a record of 36 tunes from Norfolk that have been found hidden in various corners of the published media, and seem never to have escaped into the wider world.  A secondary purpose of the CD is to pay homage to that bedrock of the English dance music genre, Record No.1 English Country Dance Music - or, rather, to the musical style found thereon.  Or, more particularly, to the group of traditional musicians that Reg Hall and Mervyn Plunkett gathered together in Walter Bulwer's house in 1962.  Reg wrote that they played all day, and then selected those performances with 'the best starts and finishes, and the fewest mistakes'.

Hushwing have followed the same principles here.  That's not to imply any criticism to their work - quite the reverse, in fact - there are no highly polished, perfect performances here, just 21 tunes or sets of tunes sounding as if they're played for enjoyment, on two fiddles, mandolin, melodeon, dulcimer, banjo, whistle and piano.

The other 'purpose' of this CD is to make available 36 tunes, or versions of tunes, you will probably never have heard before - and who would want to forgo that pleasure?  (My last band, Phoenix, tried to do the same thing with a couple of CDs).  Anyway, let's have a listen to a couple of tracks you may not know: here's Moneymusk/Harry Cox's Jig and how about Walter Bulwer's Polkas 4 & 3.  Nice, eh?  Not necessarily the best tracks, but ones I like.  Danny just came in, and said "Sounds like the real thing.  Lovely".

The CD Quanting 20.03 is available from, from the 'Launched' page therein.  Price is £10 + £2 p&p and PayPal is available.

Findlay Napier & Gillian Frame with Mike Vass

The Ledger
Traditional Scottish folk songs

Cheery Groove Records CHEERY 008

1 Bonnie George Campbell;  2 Burnie Bushel;  3 Baloo Baleery;  4 Van Dieman's Land;  5 Barbara Allen;  6 Walking All Alane;  7 Jamie Raeburn;  8 Twa Recuitin' Sergeants;  9 Mormond Braes;  10 The Road To Dundee.
And now for the other offering.  The sub-title is 'Traditional Scottish folk songs' - and so all but one might be - but traditional Scottish singing is what they're not.  'Cheery Groove' they may be.  I couldn't say.

This CD's title may need a little explanation.  In the late-'50s and early-'60s, The Scotsman newspaper published songs and articles by Norman Buchan most weeks.  It seems that Findlay Napier's grandfather, Findlay Cumming, cut them out and pasted them into an old ledger.  The CD's booklet is made up almost entirely of what may be scans of this ledger.  Whether this reflects the performers' total connection with traditional singing, I couldn't say - but the Press Release is studded with names, in bold, of famous people they've worked with, none of whom are Scottish traditional singers.

The sound quality, singing and playing are all of high quality - but as to the 'communication' ... there is rarely any indication in the singing that he or she actually feels anything for the words, or the story, of the song.  This might be a result of Norman Buchan's warning, reproduced in the CD's booklet, that 'Good folk songs are ruined by an attempt at over-interpetation - leading to false dramatics'.  I wonder if he would have included Jock Duncan's stylistic performances in this criticism?  Whatever, there's no attempt at interpretation of any sort here - every song is accompanied, and in strict tempo - making a lovely noise seems to be all that the three performers are interested in.

Rod Stradling - 28.3.20

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