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THE ALBION BAND Castle Music America 518 Acousticity ● CD $11.98
Now available as a significantly lower priced domestic release. 1995 album from the ever changing Albion Band is an all acoustic set. This incarnation of the band features Simon Nicol/ vocals & guitar, Ashley Reed/ violin & vocals, Chris While/ lead vocals & guitar and the one constant Ashley Hutchings on acoustic bass guitar & vocals.

THE ALBION BAND Castle Music America 541 Demi Paradise ● CD $11.98
This is a collection of mostly original songs from Ashley and Julie Matthews.

THE ALBION BAND Mooncrest 028 Along The Pilgrim's Way ● CD $15.98

THE ALBION BAND Multimedia 6004 Albion Heart ● CD $10.98
12 tracks, 48 mins., recommended. Score one for love. The current Albion lineup of Chris While, Julie Matthews, Ashley Hutchings, and Simon Nicol dish up an even dozen original new love songs, serving mostly as singer/songwriter showcases for While and Matthews. The ladies are in good voice and the mostly spare, unfancy arrangements show them off well. The mood runs largely to the slower ballad and dark underside of love motif, though things start off with a totally happy story in the title track, followed by Hutchings slightly contrived Appalachian Front-Porch Game, which turns out to be about Cecil Sharp collecting American folk songs. The best of the smoky love songs is Matthews' The Devil In Me, which, given drums and a Nashville studio production, might be a hit for Mary Chapin Carpenter. Another song where I missed a full-blown rock delivery is While's Gypsy, which she puts across with Grace Slick power. Still, it's all acoustic and all Albion. Fans should love it. (DC)

THE ALBION BAND Road Goes On Forever RGFCD 006 Songs From The Shows, Vol. 1 ● CD $19.98
20 tracks, 50 mins., good. Here's a pastiche of concert and studio recordings from the Albion's words-and-music presentations from 1977 to 1989. Various band lineups (all including leader Ashley Hutchings) include John Tams, Simon Nicol, Ric Sanders, Cathy Lesurf, Phil Beer, Greame Taylor, June Tabor, and more. True to Hutchings vision, the opening selections are formal, literate, and historically rich, from Here We Come A-Wassailing to a reading from Dickens. And equally true to the shizo nature of an Albion show, they then kick into Chuck Berry's Run Run Rudolph before settling back into another reading from Under the Greenwood Tree. It's a nicely-crafted program, pleasantly strung together. As soon as things get too polite, they toss in appropriate silliness. Only the stadium-rock arranged Dominion of the Sword seems a bit out of place. Still, it's fine for a family evening around a roaring fire. (DC)

THE ALBION BAND Road Goes On Forever RGFCD 007 Songs From The Shows, Vol. 2 ● CD $19.98
22 tracks, 57 min., recommended More live and studio rarities including a the spine chilling vocals of June Tabor on The Sheep Shearing Song and Twickenham Ferry.

THE ALBION BAND Transatlantic 300 Happy Accident ● CD $12.98

THE ALBION BAND Windsong 041 BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert ● CD $22.98
11 tracks, 57 mins, good. Two live sessions recorded for the BBC by Ashley Hutchings ever changing band of merry minstrels. There are 7 tracks from 1977 from between The Prospect Before Us and Rise Up Like The Sun albums and features musicians that appeared on both albums. The sessions are a bit disappointing compared to the albums lacking the spirit of the album recordings - the tempos often seem rushed and Ric Sanders occasional wild fidle excursions are a bit over the top. The other 4 tracks are from 1982 with a totally different line up including Cathy LeSurf, Dave Whetstone, Simon Nicol, Jean-Pierre Rasle and John Maxwell. The performances are enjoyable enough but nothing really stands out. (FS)

ALBION COUNTRY BAND BGO BGOCD 354 Battle of the Field ● CD $16.98
9 tracks, highly recommended. This is the first album by the ever changing group led by Ashley Hutchings under the general name of The Albion Band. This album was originally recorded in 1973 but not issued until 1976 and was then not available for very long. The band includes Martin Carthy, Sue Harris, John Kirkpatrick, Ashley Hutchings, Simon Nicol and Roger Swallow. Most of the material is traditional with the exception of the brilliant opening song Albion Sunrise by Richard Thompson on which Martin, John & Simon alternate verses. Other great vocals include I Was A Young Man and Gallant Poacher and there are some great instrumental tracks including a wonderful suite of Morris dances. (FS)

FRANKIE ARMSTRONG Fellside FECD 116 Till The Grass O'ergrew The Corn ● CD $16.98
A collection of 12 classic traditional Child ballads - occasional accompaniment by John Kirkpatrick or second vocal by Maddy Prior - The Broomfield Hill/ Hares On The Mountain/ Young Orphy/ The Lover's Ghost/ John Blunt/ The Well Below The Valley, etc.

FRANKIE ARMSTRONG Fellside FECD 144 The Garden Of Love ● CD $16.98
17 tracks, 67 mins, recommended. Excellent new album by this fine singer is mostly traditional songs along with a few more recent compositions. In the past Frankie sometimes had a tendency to bellow but her vocals these days show a much greater understanding of dynamics and is a pleasure to listen to. Frankie is joined by Joan Mills on vocal, the brilliant John Kirkpatrick on accordion and vocal and Leon Rosselson on guitar and vocal. The fine title song which opens the album is a William Blake poem set to music by Leon Rosselson which then segues into Leon's composition All That Is Different. Other fine contemporary songs includes Brian Pearsons' mystical The Ride and Frankie's own Leap Year. On the traditional side there are fine performances of Barbara Allen (sung acapella), the whimsical Devil & The Farmers Wife, the lovely The False Lover Won Back with exquisite accordion from John K. and a Welsh version of Willie Of Winsbury called Thomas Of Welshbury. There are also a couple of shape note hymns from the American tradition. Good stuff! (FS)


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