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Chris Parkinson on accordion and piano, and
BRIAN PETERS
So, how about the album? Well, it’s a corker.
Richard Curran’s excellent strings, the general
Not just for the terrific choice of songs and the
feel is that of classic Tilston, acoustic, laid back
Songs of Trial and Triumph spot-on vocals, but the thought that has gone
and original.
Pugwash PUGCD007
into finding fresh versions and the varied and
immaculately played backings. It contains
The opening track, The Road When I Was
the best Lord Randal I’ve ever heard, the best
Young, is a nostalgic revisit of his early Folk
Georgie (a gorgeous tune), the best Lucy (aka
Club days, and will ring peels of bells with
Lucy or Lizzie Wan), and Three Ravens with the
many, and our thoughts also drift to absent
backing of “screaming feedback from an over-
friends. The Devil May Care is an elegy to an
amplified electric guitar”, plus the astounding
old kindred spirit, who is terminally ill, and in it
Sir Aldingar, the Horton Barker version of The
ST contemplates not reuniting with them before
Farmers Curst Wife, and an update of the
the inevitable – surely written from the heart
Six Nights Drunk theme involving a Harley
and more than competently delivered. He even
Davidson wherein “A wheelbarrow with twin
writes a song, Madame Muse, which analyses
exhausts I never did see before”
his lean writing period, and demonstrates that
he’s now back at the helm, with gusto.
Not so long ago I watched Brian Peters
entrance a folk club audience with a
I reckon that it’s a cracker – over an hour of
programme that included several of
Tilston charm. And, it’s almost certainly the
these ballads. His emotional but not OTT
only place that you’ll hear the classic line: ‘You
performance brought home every nuance of
just zapped a ziggurat’ (in an insightful, almost
the stories he sang, whether Grand Guignol
cynical, analysis of the current situation in Iraq).
or cheeky humour. The audience Got It
Honest – it does make sense when you hear it
because he Gave It to them via his passionate
in context!
‘Child Ballads’ is the name given to the
and totally engaged delivery, qualities he has
collection of the 305 texts published by Prof.
transferred successfully on to this brilliant CD.
Grem Devlin
Francis J Child, of Harvard, in the late 19th
century, and generally considered to be top
Roy Harris
line in ballad scholarship. Much as I like the
CHRIS FOSTER
ballads I’ve often found myself gritting my teeth
when a singer announces that he or she is
STEVE TILSTON
Outsiders
going to sing one. Why? Because I have sat
Ziggurat
Green Man GMCD003
through countless performances of them so
Hubris Records HUB004
grimly boring as to make the word ‘Tedious’
You probably don’t need me to remind you that
seem like warm praise.
Chris Foster is one of Britain’s best interpreters
of traditional song. In particular I have always
Folk club audiences being the polite people
admired the way in which he always allows the
they are usually give these efforts a decent
narrative to retain pride of place and keeps any
hand, but I still treasure the memory of a bloke
accompaniment simple and sparing. Since
who was so moved by one of my big ballad
relocating to Reykjavik in Iceland and working
efforts that he stood up halfway through, yelled
regularly with his partner Bara Grimsdottir
‘That’s a load of crap’, meaning my singing,
he has seemingly opened himself up to new
and marched out of the room slamming the
influences and this new CD is evidence of that.
door behind him. He was right, which is why I
Still mostly traditional songs (Lord Bateman,
left the ranks of the ballad killers long ago.
The Cruel Mother etc., but with the occasional
foray into the contemporary with songs from
To be fair I have been thrilled at times by the
Leon Rosselson (Song of the Olive Tree about
great results some singers can get with the
the Palestinian troubles), and the exceptionally
ballads, but my opening paragraph is still only
talented Sally Goldsmith (Trespassers Will Be
slightly tongue-in-cheek. Now though, I have
Celebrated, from a show which celebrated the
a new ballad hero - Brian Peters: a man who
anniversary of the Kinder Mass Trespass).
sings these vivid tales as though he read them
Some five years since his last album of original
in this morning’s headlines. A man who loves
material, and following a self-confessed spate
This time, Chris seems to have revelled in the
the ballads and sings with passion, contrary
of writer’s block, we have here the triumphant
string accompaniment provided by the likes of
to the opinion of those who think that ballad
return of the songsmith’s songsmith. Twelve
Val Regan, Ruth Angell and others, which adds
singing requires an unemotional delivery, an
homespun songs, with two obscure traditional
an atmosphere varying from the Eastern (Lord
opinion that always baffled me. How can
ballads, collectively give an overall impression
Bateman) to something bordering on Chamber
anyone think that, when faced with texts full of
of a man at peace. Recently moved to a
music (The False Bride). Where else would you
stuff that the Sunday Screws or Hammer Horror
Yorkshire that is obviously inspirational to
get a cracking a capella version of Sir Aldingar
would pay small fortunes for? Making an
him, he tells musical stories unlike any of his
side by side with versions of Woody Guthrie’s
album of nothing but Child ballads is a decision
contemporaries.
Deportee and Brother Can You Spare A Dime
that most singers would quail at. Not Brian.
(which features some blistering harmonica
Such an album seemed like a good idea to
More than ably assisted by a select few
playing from Fraser Spiers and a double bass
him. So he went ahead, and here it is.
musicians, including tasteful contributions from
to die for from Trevor Lines)?
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Issue80.indd 38 14/7/08 14:54:20
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