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Swarbrick roundup

Speaking of Dave Swarbrick, I have got meself some more of his solo records in the past few months! After writing about Swarbrick Plays Swarbrick, I realised that I didn't know nearly as much about his career as I did about other Fairporters like Sandy Denny or Richard Thompson, so I set out to remedy that. I'll keep it brief:

Rags, Reels and Airs from 1967 is still a very cautious record. Although Joe Boyd's sleeve notes make much of the influence of Stephane Grapelli on Swarb's playing, and Swarb's style clearly isn't purely traditional folk, it doesn't take experimentation nearly as far as Swarb's Fairport work or his later solo records. It's all acoustic, backed excellently by guitarist Martin Carthy on most of the tracks and by Diz Disley on the two rags. Very listenable, although the instrumental tunes start sounding a bit samey towards the end of the record.

Smiddyburn/Flittin' is a combination of two albums Swarb cut in the early 1980s. Both albums were recorded simultaneously and are very similar in style. Noticeably, half the tracks feature the classic "Full House" line-up of Fairport Convention. The other half feature pianist Beryl Marriot and are done in strict-tempo ceilidh style. At first listening, the ceilidh tracks are more appealing, because the folk-rock tracks seem to lack energy compared to how the same line-up sounded 12 years earlier. But upon repeated listening, the folk-rock tracks turn out to be real growers! Even if they played a bit slower than before, the magic and the power were still there, and the arrangements give Richard Thompson and Dave Mattacks a lot of space to build up the dynamics.

It Suits Me Well is a compilation of the folk-rock stuff from Smiddyburn/Flittin', plus some tracks from Swarb's earlier solo albums featuring Martin Carthy and Simon Nicol on guitar. Strangely, the compilation is more cohesive than Smiddyburn/Flittin' and is a good substitute if strict-tempo ceilidh isn't your thing. Also included is a bonus CD with live recordings from two folk festival gigs: 4 tracks from Dave Swarbrick and Friends and 4 from the band Whippersnapper which Swarb formed in the 1980s. Highly recommended!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 30, 2004 9:54 PM.

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