Here’s a perfect slice of classic folk-rock that is cheap as chips on vinyl although my copy is on CD snatched from my local library media sale for a quid. I have just witnessed this on Ebay for 99p on vinyl and is on buy it now for £4.00. My connection with the Albion band goes way back to 1978 when I think they were on the Reading Festival when I was just a wee boy and went on one of the other days.
The Albion Band was formed by Ashley Hutchings from Fairport and at this stage in their development contained such folk rock heroes as Dave Mattacks, John Tams and Graeme Taylor both of whom went on to from the equally excellent Home Service.
This is very possibly the second best folk-rock album ever made lying just behind (but not by much) Fairport’s Liege and Lief, in my opinion. However am way open to other opinions.
Its a quite unfashionable album in that it brings synthesisers into folk but it works a treat. There is a fair amount of quite fiddly electric guitar work as well but it is always nail sharp sounding
Afro Blue/Danse Royale, Ampleforth and a fair amount of Lay Me Low are largely instrumental and demonstrate the bands effectiveness as a folk unit. Phil Pickett’s Pipes and fiddle are particularly haunting until Lay Me Low becomes a proper folk rock anthem with Linda Thompson, Kate McGarrigle, Julie Covington all joining on the chorus. It pays to be Ashley Hutchings, you know everyone!
Kate McGarrigle also duets with Tams on a House in the Country proving that the band can so achieve gorgeous melodies among their tricks
Ashley as I’m sure you are aware is a great keen fan of Morris/English dance tunes which is how the next tune ‘The Primrose’ comes over. Hankies can be seen in the minds eye dangling from every waving arm.
Gresford Disaster is a sprawling 10 minute epic of a song that ends the original vinyl album and therefore my review as one cant be doing with songs that weren’t intended. Tams as always sings beautifully, having one of the best English folk voices of all. Drama is brought into the middle section with Taylors sinister guitar mimicking the rather grim nature of the story of a Welsh mining disaster continuing on towards a sad refrain at the end
If you are at all interested in folk and like a bargain please picks yourself a copy of this record as it will never be regretted. A true classic of the field.