The Albion Band – A Christmas Present From The Albion Band
Bass player Ashley Hutchings, who had previously founded and left both Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, is the driving force behind The Albion Band. The members use acoustic and electric instruments to create a folk-rock sound something like Fairport Convention's, but usually more typically English in character.
1. In The Bleak Midwinter - 2. Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day 3. Extract from Philip Stubbes' "Anatomie Of Abuses", 1583 4. The Official Branle (Dind Dong Merrily On High) - 5. Worcester - 6. Christmas Must Be Tonight / Bells Of Paradise / I Sing Of A Maid - 7. Extract from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" - 8. Welch Rabbit - 9. Shepherds Arise - 10. Personent Hodie - 11. Extract from Thomas Hardy's "Under The Greenwood Tree" - 12. On Christmas Night All Christians Sing - 13. While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks - 14. Keep The Home Fires Burning / Extracts from Parnell's "History Of The First World War" / Es Ist Ein Ros - 15. Somerset Wassail –
Cathy Lesurf (lead vocals, spoken word) , Ashley Hutchings (bass, vocals, spoken word) , Phil Beer (fiddle, mandolin, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals, spoken word) , Doug Morter (guitar, vocals, spoken word) , Trevor Foster (drums, percussion) , Max Clifford (keyboards) , John O'Connor (additional vocals)
1. Amazon. Com - Top Customer Reviews
- 4.0 out of 5 stars - Ashleys Albions deliver Yuletide Delight - Parsley - 10 Dec. 2004
This Album appeared shortly after the Albion's first series of Christmas shows, back in the mid eighties, and is a greatly condensed version of those shows. Nevertheless, it still delights , with its mixture of Carols, both trad. and modern, and also a number of readings from seasonal material. I especially like the extracts from Dickens' "Christmas Carol ", and Hardy's "Under the Greenwood Tree".
The band consists of the maestro, Ashley Hutchings, of course, Cathy Lesurf on vocals (so, so much better than Fiddlers Dram) Phil Beer (now of Show of Hands, etc) on vocals,guitar, fiddle and mandolin, Doug Morter on guitar and vocals, and Trevor Foster on drums.
The album opens with a lovely instumental version of "In The Bleak Midwinter", with some excellent improvising by Doug Morter (I think). A highlight for me is the instrumental "Ding Dong merrily on High", with this time Phil Beer taking the lead on electric guitar. I recall this was the number used to open the shows. Its impressive.
Doug Morter sings the Robbie Robertson composition "Christmas Must be Tonight". A soulful rendition.
The Dickens extract is read with conviction, and this leads into a lusty jig "Welch Rabbit"
Other highlights are "Shepherds Arise" , and "On Christmas night all Christians Sing", both with Cathy taking the lead vocal.
"While Shepherds Watched" is close harmony and sung accappella, but is a little dry for my liking ,sounds hard work to sing, too.
Steeleye would have made it sound richer, I feel.
Lesurf sings accapella on "Es ist ein ros", which follows a reading from Parnells history of the First world war". Moving stuff, to remind us that life at Christmas hasn't always been comfortable.
A rousing version of "Somerset Wassail" concludes this offering.
I like this album because it conjures the spirit of Christmas past by using modern methods which are both entertaining and at tmes stirring. It has a very rustic feel at times. The musicianship is great, there's no doubt about that, with four good vocalists, and the abilty to really rock when they want to. I do feel the production sounds a little hollow and flat at times. It could perhaps do with enrichment .It doesn't have a very "Live" feel. But its a perennial for me. If you ever saw their Christmas shows in the eighties, this should recall the good time you had.
I recommend it to Albion Band fans, and lovers of traditional seasonal music. Happy Albion Chrismas!!
- 5.0 out of 5 stars - Yule love this! - ExiledTownFan - 21 Dec. 2015
I love this album and it is always the first one to be played every December 1st. I think a previous reviewer is correct when he states that it was released soon after the first few Christmas Shows, one of which I was very fortunate to catch (in Newark, I believe), and thoroughly enjoy. I seem to recall Cathy leSurf with a broom, apron, hair up in a headscarf and drawing on a ciggie hanging from the corner of her mouth in that show, but can't for the life of me imagine what song that would have been! Anyway, this is most definitely a studio album - if you want the 'live' version you need 'Another Christmas Present ...' - and it covers the main ingredients. I too really enjoy the readings as they give a real Dickensian flavour to the proceedings and in regard to the music I love the accapella 'Shepherds' and 'Worcester' as well as the rousing dance tunes.
All in all an excellent purchase and a worthy addition to anybody's Christmas collection!
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