The Albion Band – Stella Maris
Ashley Hutchings and the Albion Band, 1986 a new lineup was back to making solid albums. This lineup featured guitarist/singer Phil Beer (later of the duo Show of Hands), fiddler Martin Bell (later of The Wonder Stuff) and vocalist Cathy Lesurf (The Oysterband).
Lesurf's voice is a very full, piercing one, and she does make some wonderful contributions to this surprisingly strong recording, which is easily Hutchings' best of the eighties. Like other folkies, Hutchings embraced the new eighties sounds, so opener "Broomfield Hill" is a far cry from the seventies with its VERY current synth pads, hot lead guitar, gated thingies and riffery.
"Such a Paradise" is almost neo-psych, with exotic loud sounds and a rhythm that is definitely not UK folk-inspired. "Orion's Belt" finds Lesurf accompanied solely by an icy-sounding synth. And so it goes, a very slick-sounding collection of folk-influenced eighties rock, until we get to the massive suite that takes up most of side two, "The Task".
This is a long, linked set of songs and pieces about ? the Buckinghamshire lace-making trade! That's right. And yes, it's somehow compelling and even moving! I'm not sure how this album did at the time, but I actually think it should be considered an important advancement in integrating traditional influences into modern production styles and sounds, without sounding forced.
1. Broomfield Hill - 3.52 2. Such a Paradise - 4.53 3. a. Vive L'Amour / b. Masters of This Hall / c. Dirty Harry's Jig - 4.23 4. Orion's Belt - 3.19 5. The Ship - 4.08 6. The Rose and the Rock - 3.28 7. Till the Time We Meet Again - 3.29 8. The Task - a. Sunday in the Rain / b. Lace Tell / c. Lacemaker’s Song / d. The Call of the Corncrake / e. The Busy Gardener / f. Lady of the Manor’s Song / g. Bacchus' March / h. From the Alcove / i. All Those Lies- 12.28
Cathy Lesurf (vocals) , Phil Beer (guitars, mandolin, oud, vocals) , Martin Bell (synthesisers, fiddle, lead vocal) , Trevor Foster (drums, percussion) , Ashley Hutchings (bass guitar, vocals) , Dave Burland (vocals on 7) , Paul Downes (ocals on 8d, 8h) , Phil Pickett (recorder on 2, shawms on 3b, recorders, curtals and synthesiser on 8g) , Eric Hine (synthesiser 8f)
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