Jez Lowe & Jake Walton,
Two a Roue
(Lowe Life, 1986;
Tantobie, 2001)

This CD is the re-issue of material from an original vinyl release of 1986 and it is a welcome addition to the list. The odd title is said to come from the French word for the "hurdy gurdy," an instrument featured on a number of tracks.

The CD features some beautiful original songs that are steeped in the folk tradition. So steeped in fact that it is often necessary to remind ourselves that these are new songs penned by the performers.

"Patrik's Song/Dance" is a fabulous tune and lyrics recounting the gypsy life followed by a short dance tune in the same vein.

"Brockie Lads" is one of those songs that sounds ancient and redolent of fireside sessions but is in fact a tale penned in recent times as the subject matter attests. Not that there is no nostalgic content; this is a tale of roustabouts in the carnivals of northern England, another "trade" now depleted. It reminds us of classics like "Raggle Taggle Gypsy" but set in the 1960s with lines such as "The Brockie Lads are black with the ways of the Devil, they're just tinkers and hawkers at heart."

"Japs and English" we are told is a song about children's games such as "cowboys and Indians." Here the games are given a twist and a prick of conscience -- "when the fighting was all over, we all lived to fight again." "The Bergen" tells the tale of a ship that sank in the 19th century. Once more the troubadours of 1986 recreated the wealth of the folk tradition with a song that could be passed off as written when Bergen sank.

Social conscience is the lifeblood of good folk music and "The Ballad of John Collier" brings us Lowe and Walton with a tale of Thatcher's Britain.

While bright new talent and an ever-increasing range of CDs from singer songwriters surround us, we would be very foolish to ignore the heritage already there. Albums such as this, resurrecting great music and lyrics from the vaults of vinyl are essential if we are to avoid losing irreplaceable songs.

This CD is well recommended and will complement any collection.

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 26 January 2002

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