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Music Reviews

ASHLEY HUTCHINGS & FRIENDS/THE GUV’NOR’S BIG BIRTHDAY BASH (HTD CD 39)

As the cover proclaims this is “A never-to-be-forgotten jamboree of English folk-rock in celebration of Ashley Hutchings’ 50th birthday.” This disc was recorded live at a special concert for the occasion and includes performances by some nineteen current, former, and occasional members of the various versions of the Albion Band and Fairport Convention. The disc contains fifteen tracks and includes a spoken intro and outro by Ashley. This entire production is extremely well done. The recording and packaging are both excellent and deserve this special mention.

The performances are the gem of this one though! Chris While and Simon Nicol both do outstanding jobs on lead vocals. Instrumental-wise these are some of the most talented performers in the folk-rock world and the performances here are up to par with the best that each of these artists has ever recorded. The highlights include performances of “Albion Heart”,”Brief Encounters”,”Spyder Walk”,”Albion Sunrise”, and “To Ireland I Made My Way.” The climax is a reading of “Who Knows Where The Time Goes?” with Chris While, Diane Walmisley, Polly Bolton, Vicki Clayton, and Elaine Morgan combining on what amounts to a vocal tour de force. This disc isn’t easy to find, and is only available as an import, but is more than worth the effort you’ll expend finding a copy. If you're a folk-rock fan you definitely don’t want to miss this release. Get it while you can!