Tide of Change

by Tom and Barbara Brown

Tom and Barbara's songs are always entertaining, informative, humorous and highly musical their sense of fitting arrangement nothing short of inspired. The use of harmony is earthy and exciting, always full of power and punch! Keith Kendrick



This is our third CD and continues our tendency to perform a diverse range of material that people call folk song.

That is not deliberate per se, but all the material fits within The Tradition, as weve known it in the West Country. Friends have again been called on to enhance arrangements and fill choruses, but with a more minimalist approach! There is no theme, although the title comes from a modern song about change in the countryside and several others tracks collide with the same theme even if it is across several hundred years. Perhaps on balance, there are as many constants here as there are changes and thats no bad thing either. 

Every now and then a bit of fantasy does you good. So heres The Little Gypsy Girl away with the fairies for as long as her musing lasts and until another reality comes crashing in. The origin of this version lies in a recording of Louise Holmes, of Dinedor, Herefordshire, made by Peter Kennedy in the 1950s, but Barbara has been singing it for so long its probably revised itself.

Reality of a different kind crashes in on another heroine, in the ballad-soliloquy The Lowlands of Holland. Should we quote the Child number? the Laws or Roud? nah, look it up if need be! The Lowlands of Holland, of course, were the Dutch East Indies you dont get a very good crop of sugar-cane in the Netherlands! This version was published in Herbert Hughes Irish Country Songs (1915) with what appears to be one of the standard tunes except that on manuscript it staggers, with unpredictable irregularity, between 4/4 and 5/4. The tune became an intellectual challenge until it came alive again of itself, astonishing us with the resultant ethereal intensity and poignancy of the song. The version was collected in County Derry but, sadly, we dont know who from.

The second big ballad is Barbara Allen there seem to be several pairs of songs on this CD! The earliest record of Barbara Allen being sung is a note in Pepys diary for 2nd January 1666. Since then its popularity seems never to have faded. Its also widespread, with Bronson, in his Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, recording 200 melodies for it. It has recently become so often recorded within the folk revival that we seriously discussed not recording it but the version won in the end. This text, one of the fullest and certainly one that gives a whole perspective to the story that is often missing in other sets, comes from the extraordinary ballad singer Cyril Piggott. The tune used here was collected by Cecil Sharp from Jane Wheller of Langport in 1904.

There are also two West Country fair songs on the CD. Both fairs are ancient but of the songs, one is old and the other relatively new. Paul Wilson, in his Bampton Fair, is a writer who captures the essence there are universal truths about horse-fairs enshrined here. The fair in Bampton, older than its 1258 charter, is now primarily a pony fair when the Exmoor ponies are brought down from the moor in The Drift. The Romany word grai, a puff-less one of which the singer bought, means pony. While Bampton Fair is on the last Thursday in October, Bridgwater Fair (St. Matthews Fair) is held for four days in the last week of September, and has held its charter since 1249. Bridgwater Fair was collected by Cecil Sharp, from Bill Bailey of Cannington, Somerset in 1906, and from Henry Tidball of Wedmore, Somerset in 1907.

There is a class of song (probably more than one class in reality) that the folk revival dislikes acknowledging and yet which sits firmly within the tradition there are two of them here as well! These are the local, self-deprecating, dialect pieces which country singers readily adopted. Tom grew up with Bread & Cheese & Cider a tale of a country yokel who, having been stung by the bright lights, and taken for a fool, comes home to what really matters. It is here sung with the traditional variation in the words of the last chorus. Like many of his generation, Tom overlooked the song and never learnt it. Then you get older, less proscriptive and more cussed, and you begin to see how the song continued to be sung as a proud mark of identity!

Rather the same applies to When Mother And Me Joined In, which brings us to the Bix family guilty on all charges! It was Jerrys rendition of this song which persuaded us we ought to sing it. Its a reminder that country folk were determined to grow old disgracefully long before any poet thought of wearing purple. It was written by A.J. Coles (a.k.a. Jan Stewer) and was one of the pieces he used to perform on the village hall circuits decades before arts development managers created village hall circuits his other Mother song, of course, was Out Stepped Mother and Me. Our favourite rendition is by the Dartmoor farmer and singer Charlie Hill.

Jerrys better half, Hilary, is the lady to whom we owe our title track Tide of Change. Like Paul Wilson, she is a writer who can cut to the quick! Hilary was inspired to write the song after a conversation she had with her neighbour, Mrs. Tucker, in Frithelstock Stone, North Devon, back in the 1970s although the veracity of the song goes way beyond that in time and location. Mrs. Tucker was born around 1900, and she would be even more horrified by the situation now and they say the Countryside Alliance is only about hunting! Hilary is also otherwise involved in this album artwork, graphics and design too clever by half, that woman!

Hunting is now banned and Tom borrowed part of Exe, Barle and Bray from an Exmoor hunting song now lost except for its chorus which appeared in print in the 1920s in the series of books Echoes of Exmoor. Once again, the song is not just about hunting, but about all the old ways that are bulldozed out of existence by modern urbocentric ignorance and a neat reversal of Bob Dylans original admonition. The tune was nicked from Danny Dove who created it to carry his words to The Black Stag of Badgworthy (pronounced Badgery) which went into the tradition on Exmoor about 1973. Danny is also responsible for introducing us to The Sound of Singing a great starter of a song which Eric Bogle wrote for the 1993 Australia tour and which is recorded on I Wrote This Wee Song (Greentrax CDTRAX 082D).

Echoes of Exmoor was also the source for The Song Of The Flail which is set to a tune of Barbaras and so it goes round. The song was allegedly used to keep two men in time with each other when flailing. Pullets here, of course, means pellets (of grain) not small chickens, although the image of two men flailing a heap of chickens can influence the manner of singing!

Tom had Rusty Ol Knife (except for verse 2)from Charlie Bate, who himself had it from Jan Reveare who used to sing it at the Farmers Arms, in St. Merryn, in Charlies younger days. In other versions, its also known as Muddley Barracks, The Yorkshire Blinder, Bungay Roger etc. but always in strong locally accented versions most peculiar must be an M.A. in there somewhere! Charlie always sang it with the short first verse! It was sometimes known as St. Merryn Grinders but, when sung in St Issey, it was St. Issey Grinders. Charlie used to happily swap between titles and also called it Rusty Ol Knife. Weve taken the liberty of localising it to where we now live. Nigel Rowe, Charlies pupil and disciple, nagged Tom for years to learn and sing the song sad that he died before he could criticise this recording! It is obviously a song with more titles than versions and may originate in a broadside called The Awkward Recruit, although it feels more like a genuine army parody.
Like the boxing gym in many cities, the army has been the way out from boredom and the dole to risk, employment and the world for generations of youngsters from villages. And still is thats one bit that doesnt change.

We just couldnt do a CD without including the Hypothetical Band so

Rusty Ol Knife is followed by a Welsh tune called The March of the Men of Devon (!) which we had from Mick Tems whose recording of it can be heard on You Can Take A White Horse Anywhere (Callenig: Greenwich Village GVR224). Charlie Bate was always very fond of marches, partly from his time in the D.C.L.I. which is why he tended to play them fast, but not as fast as Mick!

The Cluster of Nuts is just one of those wonderfully exaggerated stories you sometimes get. The male hero is, of course, called Jack. The song was collected by the Hammonds from William Bartlett in Wimborne Union Workhouse. Bartletts text was corrupt and fragmentary and the song was published in the EFDS book The Wanton Seed with a text that came from a broadside in the Crampton collection in the British Museum. From the book, the song was learnt and performed by Tim Edwards from whom Tom learnt it it has evolved a little bit since. In the early days of the folk revival, it seemed that people made love once a night, and then blew the candle out. Then the frequency increased with the permissive society three times, six times, and even Nine Times a Night. The Cluster of Nuts suggests twelve (although there is some dispute about one of them) where do we go from here?

The last song on the CD neatly rounds off what was started by The Sound of Singing.

In Friendships Name is another song with a true sentiment but no sentimentality. What is more valuable than friendship especially when further enhanced by the social adjuncts recommended here?

In Friendships Name has been translated from the Border Scots we dont do other regions accents, even though Toms father was a Scot, and this song in its original state needs both dialect and accent. We first came across it at a festival in Crawfordjohn, Lanarkshire, sung in the bar by Kirsten Easdale from the magnificent Scottish group Calasaig. Subsequently we discovered it in the repertoire of Willie Scott its disconcerting how you miss things sometimes! Having said how much we loved it, we were persuaded by Kirsten, after some debate about texts and integrity, that as the song would suit us well we should translate it.Tom still gets nervous about it, although several choir friends in Cornwall want to sing it maybe something to do with the One and All in the chorus!

1 Sound of Singing 
Bogle 

2 The Little Gipsy Girl 
Trad 

3 Bampton Fair 
Wilson 

4 Cluster of Nuts 
Trad 

5 Barbara Allen 
Trad 

6 Bread & Cheese & Cider 
Trad 

7 Bridgwater Fair 
Trad 

8 Song of the Flail 
Trad/Brown 

9 When Mother & Me Joined In 
Coles 

10 Tide of Change 
Bix 

11 Exe, Barle and Bray 
Brown/Dove 

12 Lowlands of Holland 
Trad 

13 Rusty Ol’ Knife/March of the Men of Devon 
Trad/Trad 

14 In Friendship’s Name 
Trad 
Sound of Singing
Sample not available
The Little Gipsy Girl
Bampton Fair
Cluster of Nuts
Sample not available
Barbara Allen
Sample not available
Bread & Cheese & Cider
Bridgwater Fair
Sample not available
Song of the Flail
Sample not available
When Mother & Me Joined In
Sample not available
Tide of Change
Sample not available
Exe
Brown/Dove
Sample not available
Lowlands of Holland
Sample not available
Rusty Ol’ Knife/March of the Men of Devon
Sample not available
In Friendship’s Name
Sample not available

The Folk Mag

Mick Bramich

The latest offering from Tom and Barbara Brown, those traditional club favourites, was full of surprises for me. A mix of old and new songs and a set of tunes produces something for everyone, whatever their particular tastes. I did find the performance of the traditional songs more in my own style of listening and Barbara's lovely version of Barbara Allen was no exception being delivered with power and by a handsome tune.

Tom, not to be left out on the good old songs comes up with a fistful of delights both as lead and in harmony with Barbara: Bridgwater Fair, Bread and Cheese and Cider, and The Song of the Flail are striking examples. Of the modern songs, a firm favourite of mine is Bampton Fair by Paul Wilson. It is a strident fair day song following on admirably in a long tradition of such rural offerings. The dialect pieces of Jan Stewer always raise the spirits with their inbuilt humorous references to country life as When Mother and Me Joined In illustrates. Modern is perhaps not the right word for this particular 19th. century piece!

The rest of the package is also very listenable and a touch of present day rural politics is clearly expressed in Tide of Change, written by Hilary Bix who also produced the artwork for this beautifully packaged collection.

If you are a fan of the big sing, then you will not find fault in this CD and I hope that it brings Tom and Barbara the recognition that it deserves from the folk club and festival audiences of Britain.


Taplas

ROY HARRIS

Mr and Mrs Brown are true defenders of the faith when it comes to folk music. They love it, and they work hard for it. They tour the country, but also host local sessions, revitalize moribund traditions on their home patch, encourage fledgling musicians, and they make admirable albums such as this one.

Eric Bogles Sound of Singing opens, and its an appropriate choice as the Browns love of singing shines out.  Barbara hits all the spots with her Barbara Allen.  Tom brings out the gently bawdy humour in Cluster of Nuts, and plays excellent guitar backing.  To my delight they sing the Song of the Flail, a fine text along with Barbaras own melody, and a lively Bridgewater Fair, grand songs both. Strong and honest singing from two of the best. A quality album throughout.

Netrythms

David Kidman

I always really look forward to seeing and hearing Tom and Barbara, for their special brand of west-country warmth ensures a wholly personable welcome every time and their years of experience (and intense enjoyment) of singing folk music bring an immediacy and freshness to every performance they give. Theyre also two of the finest singers on the folk scene; each is blessed with a wonderfully strong, rich and earthy tone of voice and a definitive, innate grasp of harmony to complement their solidity of melodic line. Whats more, they have an unerring instinct for a good song, and - every bit as important - a great sense of which songs truly suit their voices and style of presentation.

Their richness of tone is mirrored in the rich diversity of material that they perform, all fitting comfortably within The Tradition (in its widest sense), and all grist to the mill of folk-song you might say. All of which is represented on this delectable release, from juicy chorus songs both traditional and newly-composed to ancient ballads, from West Country dialect pieces like Bread & Cheese & Cider to songs from the village-hall circuit (When Mother And Me Joined In). There are a couple of fair songs from the West Country (Bridgwater Fair, collected by Sharp in 1906/07, and Paul Wilsons relatively recent fun sketch of Bampton Fair).

In the aforementioned big ballad category we get sterling renditions (from Barbara in these instances) of The Lowlands Of Holland and Barbara Allen; the latter, all too often recorded in indifferent and/or unsatisfactory versions, here is sung unaccompanied, to a sensibly full text and utilises a tune variant thats intriguingly different and quite challenging. Theres also a fine example of a crafted, sensitive and inspirational modern song that so powerfully transcends easy nostalgia and cuts to the quick (the title track, which comes from the pen of the multi-talented Hilary Bix - who was also responsible for the albums wonderful artwork, graphics and design by the way). Not only the visual impact of the CD as a package is considered here, for the purely sequential design of the CD is thoughtful and attractive too - the running-order is neatly bookended, with a brilliant choice of opener thats a kind of modern calling-on/come-all-ye (Eric Bogles The Sound Of Singing) and a suitably emotional parting-song as closer (In Friendships Name, culled from the repertoire of shepherd Willie Scott and now newly translated by Tom and Barbara from the original Border Scots).

EFDSS EDS

Bonny Sartin

Purely by coincidence this CD arrived just a few days before Tom & Barbara were to be guests at our club in Sherborne so I had the bonus of hearing them live before writing this review. They are so very obviously at home in front of an audience after many years of touring that it seems their natural element and sometimes its very difficult to carry this ease of manner and professionalism over into the very different and sometimes stagnant atmosphere of a recording studio. However this is not the case and if you have enjoyed their music in the past you will be delighted with Tide of Change.

They have an impressive array of instrumentalists to augment their own talents and the tendency can be to over egg the pudding and bury the original when these are to hand but they have not fallen into this trap. Barbaras unaccompanied singing of Barbara Allen, a full 18 verses long, is as good as youll ever hear. We all know the story but she tells it so well, with such feeling, that it still pulls the heart strings. Also there is no affectation in her style, every word is as clear as a bell. You can tell that, to her, the song is the most important item on the agenda.      

In contrast there is the humour of A. J. Coles When Mother & Me Joined In which is carrying on in a fine tradition of country entertainment. My early reading was Yap, In Chimley Corner and A Parcel of Old Crams, books written by Mr. Coles under the pseudonym Jan Stewer, so perhaps Im a little biased but Jan, Im sure, would be delighted that his song still has the capacity to stir an audience to laughter.  

Here is a real mix of songs from the countryside old and new. Two great voices, some cracking harmonies and behind the finished product some thoughtful arrangements and behind the natural, easy-going performance many hours of hard practice.

The Living Tradition

Phil Thomas

Tom and Barbara Brown seem to have been around forever. Based in the delightful West Country village of Combe Martin they are two of the best traditional singers in Britain. For this recording they have enlisted the help of friends like Ralph Jordan and Paul Sartin but it remains essentially Tom and Barbara's work. I use the word 'work' advisedly because they have clearly put in some effort in assembling this collection of songs.

The CD comprises mostly traditional songs, though two of my favourite tracks are Eric Bogle's 'The Sound of Singing' and the

traditional 'Song of the Flail' from the 1920s 'Echoes of  Exmoor' collection, which has been set to a new tune by Barbara. I am also very partial to the title track which is written by Hilary Bix, who also provided some very tasteful artwork for the CD (This lady is a gem, Tom and Barbara... look after her).

I guess I have only one problem. The CD is well produced and engineered but, for me, nobody has yet been able to capture on CD the way Barbara's voice fills a room and you can't record the twinkle in Tom's eye as he performs. Live performance is when Tom and Barbara are really at their best. If you are already a fan you will love this CD. If you have not heard them before this is a good place to start.

Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews

Dai Woosnam

This is the third album from this fine duo based in Devon, England. And like the previous two, it contains a nice variety of songs and styles. And again it has the WildGoose elite crack team of SAS men lending their support.  These Superbly Adroit Session musicians are of course not really session musicians at all: but folk star names in their own right. Well known UK folk names like Paul Sartin, Anahata and Ralph Jordan, to name but three.    And vocal support from that sublime harmony singer Lynne Heraud.

Tom Brown has a voice that is redolent of all the best qualities of English singers: a voice free from affectation, a voice seemingly with an effortless range, and a voice that shows there has been clear THOUGHT at what the words he delivers actually MEAN. You might say that this last quality is universal. Is it heck! Far from it. Too many singers use their voices as musical instruments. They may just as well SCAT sing, when you consider all the meaning they lose from their songs. But as I say, Tom does not fall into this last category. And nor certainly does Barbara. Her singing  very redolent of Frankie Armstrong in her pomp  is a model in how to do it.

And so, preamble over, what of this album? Is it worth shelling out your hard-earned money on?

Well, do you want the HONEST answer? Two minutes into the CD, I would have put a wager on me saying no. Here is for why?

Theyd kicked-off the album with what must be the worst song the great Eric Bogle ever wrote, and my heart sank at the prospect of a total of over 11 minutes coming up of Barbara Allen and Lowlands of Holland. Surely I thought, the Geneva Convention had decreed a moratorium on the recording of both?

But guess what? At the end of the album I felt that it had more than overcome the hurdles it had imposed on itself.

I mean, they made a really good fist of the three abovementioned songs.  Take the Bogle. Perhaps my objection to it is the thought of HIM singing it at the start of the evening. A song with a chorus that includes the words sorrow, care or fear/tonight have no place here!  Eh? Eric is a master songwriter who has made a FORTUNE dealing in sorrow.  And the Browns too, as has just been illustrated, are no strangers to songs that break ones heart.

And, getting into the album now, lets actually deal with those two seminal traditional songs of the Folk Revival. And tell you now that they were triumphs, especially Barbaras Barbara Allen. I guess they can justify choosing them since both were not quite the usual variant. And then when tackling them they apply a real INTENSITY that surprised me. Veteran singers making the songs sound they were written just yesterday. Not an easy thing to do. Normally, a certain tiredness invades versions of both songs. Lowlands of Holland especially, normally bears Carthys imprint. Not here. Barbara sings it like she has never heard Martins version.

The real success of the album are the two music hall-type ballads. Bread & Cheese & Cider is a variation on Boiled Beef and Carrots (or probably the other way round) and When Mother & Me Joined In is from the writing of the now almost forgotten Devon dialect writer AJ Coles, who under the pen name of Jan Stewer was almost as famous in his day, as William Barnes was in the adjoining county of Dorset.

The liner notes, as you would expect from WildGoose, are a model in how things should be done.  One curiosity though. I see that the tune of Exe, Barle and Bray is said to be nicked from Danny Dove who created it in about 1973. Eh? Have I got my ears on wrong? I must have, because Id otherwise have sworn that Danny himself had nicked the tune for the chorus from Ewan MacColls Thirty Foot Trailer! And mentioning MacColl, makes me close this review with the one thing about this album that lifted my heart the most. With In Friendships Name, they end the CD by doing a version of a song from the singing of the great Borders shepherd, Willie Scott. But they refused to do a cod Scots Borders accent! They insisted it be translated out of dialect, and into RP English. I salute them both. And yes, I can hear you say, but what has that got to do with Ewan MacColl?  Easy. Jimmy Miller was a Salford lad who instead of singing in his boyhood Mancunian accent chose, when becoming a performer, to adopt the accent  and indeed DIALECT - of his dad. I never did understand how he managed to lecture people for so long on the importance of singing in their own voice  and still get away with it! That takes chutzpah. And genius. And MacColl was blest with an abundance of both.

Dai Woosnam

Grimsby, England

daigress@hotmail.com

Whats Afoot

Jacqueline Patten

After spending part of the Spring Bank Holiday weekend following the procession of The Hunting of the Earl of Rone, a North Devon tradition revived by them, Tom & Barbara Brown were very much in my mind when I turned to the North Devon Festival programme to find that on 6th June they were to give another presentation of This Farming Life. The pleasure of sitting down to write this review is, therefore, enhanced by the knowledge and first?hand experience that Tom and Barbara have taken the traditions of the region to so many people. Their enthusiasm inspires others in a way that few people manage.

'Tide of Change' is their third album. As before guests support them instrumentally and vocally, the arrangements, however, ensure that the song, the story and the tune are of paramount importance rather than the performers' prowess. The balance is maintained while the talents of Anahata on cello, Joan Holloway on bones, Keith Holloway on melodeon, Ralph Jordan on concertina, bouzouki and mandolin, Barry Lister on tuba and Paul Sartin on fiddle with Lynne Heraud and Barrv Lister on chorus vocals, give subtle backing to Tom and Barbara's renditions. It is worth listing the guests as an indication of the quality of the album. In order not to let a perfect opportunity pass, in the sleeve notes they confess that they could not do a CD without including the Hypothetical Band', so on the penultimate track, Rusty ol' Knife followed by The March of the Men of Devon, this fine array of musicians give their listeners licence to tap their feet, dance and laugh, the enthusiasm of the 'band' is infectious.

As referred to above, the versatility of Tom and Barbara is far-reaching. The tracks on this CD are similarly diverse. The material is drawn from a variety of sources with songs taken from the collecting of Cecil Sharp and Peter Kennedy complemented by recent compositions by Eric Bogle, Paul Wilson and Hilary Bix as well as traditional ones like Barbara Allen.

The attention to repertoire and presentation is evident. The opening song Sound of Singing is an apt beginning and one of the strongest tracks. The traditional ballad Barbara Allen is sung unaccompanied by Barbara; as it is preceded by Cluster of Nuts and followed by Bread & Cheese & Cider, the audience is not in a melancholy mood for too long. In a similar way When Mother & Me Joined In follows the haunting Song of the Flail. Tide of Change a recent composition from Hilary Bix, summarises the underlying theme of the album, while the regional songs, Bampton Fair (Paul Wilson) and Bridgwater Fair (collected by Sharp) provide a 'tour' of the West Country.

Listening to the album for the first time I warmed to it, listening to it a number of times that initial appreciation has grown and will continue to do so, I am sure.

Tradition

Lawrence Long

If you're a fan of Tom and Barbara Brown's well-crafted folk song, don't think the title means they've gone heavy metal (not that anything in the packaging - nicely drawn by Hilary Bix - suggests this). It's a somewhat perverse title - this is a traditional sounding folk album with those old-fashioned virtues of thoughtful words, melodic tunes and good singing. As satisfying as a well-made piece of oak furniture.

Tom and Barbara Brown, based in Devon, met at the Mayday Festival in Padstow in 1969 and were married in 1970 so, still singing together, it's no surprise that they sound good and relaxed in each other's company. Tom and Barbara mainly alternate on lead vocals. The collection of fourteen songs (eight traditional, five written and one shared) is wide-ranging but there's nothing here it would surprise you to hear in a folk club or at Sidmouth Folk Festival where the duo are regulars. On this third CD, the accompanying musicians and vocals are apparently sparser than before, but you can tell the quality from some of the people involved - Lynne Heraud, Ralph Jordan and the Holloways among them. Without exception, these discreet touches add to the effect and never intrude on the songs. There are extensive sleevenotes (though they occasionally assume too much knowledge of folk people). You may well be hearing Tom and Barbara Brown at a folk club near you soon (if Barbara's exemplary diligence in chasing folk-club organisers for bookings is still as formidable - I had the experience and succumbed pleasurably (aspiring musicians take note). There's nothing here to frighten the horses, apart perhaps from a 'country' word in Bread, Cheese and Cider.

The song that gives the CD its title laments rather than welcomes what we amusingly know as progress. This is the default position of folk music when it comes to change. Where are our modern songs of management consultants, the Millennium Dome and congestion charges? If Ewan MacColl were alive today he'd be appalled. Tide of Change, by Hilary Bix, sung movingly mainly by Barbara, addresses passing ways with regret. Tom's own following lyric Exe, Barle and Braye addresses them with vitriol, based on the chorus of an Exmoor hunting song. There may be other reasons than 'urbocentric ignorance' for the foxhunting ban (as a Londoner, I'm not on either side, though we see more foxes in the city than ever) but the song leaves no doubt as to the depth of anger out there.

Some would ask: Why call an album Tide of Change then include a very traditional version of Barbara Allen, surely a song that everyone knows by heart from school? Er, no, they don't. It's perhaps embarrassing to say this but despite having a few hundred folk recordings from the past 30 years - this is the first time it's appeared on any recording I own. And if you (unlike me) did the complete, unaccompanied, unexpurgated full seven-minute version given here, you must have been at a school for sorrow. It's sung by Barbara (in English rather than the 'original' Scots) and it's magnificent. They tell us the song goes back at least to 1666 when Pepys mentions it. There are a couple of fair songs -Bampton Fair (of the three Bamptons, this is the Devon one) and Bridgwater Fair. Sources and writers are credited. Also of note is the concluding In Friendship's Name, a great singing song from a Scots original which bookends the album with Eric Bogle's opener Sound of Singing. In between there's the whole range of folk: comic, sad, protest, ballad, chorus, music hall. You couldn't really want more.

Folk Northwest

Derek Gifford

There are some CDs that come up for review which you know from the very first track that you are going to enjoy. This is one such. Ive known Tom and Barbara for over 25 years having met them at an early Song & Ale in Wiltshire. Eric Bogles opening song, Sound of Singing, illustrated exactly what they are about and what their long running Song & Ales were about (they still go on in Northamptonshire but under new management!) which is enjoyment of and participation in our wonderful folk song heritage.

This is their 3rd CD and is as diverse in material as their previous ones. We have everything from grand chorus songs like the first track and In Friendships Name through to classic ballads such as Barbara Allen and Lowlands of Holland including also humorous ditties like Cluster of Nuts and Rusty Ol Knife.

There are also songs of controversy including the title track Tide of Change a realistic and poignant work basically about rural de-population written by Hilary Bix and Toms own Ex [sic], Barle and Bray which he developed from the chorus of an Exmoor hunting song. This latters pro-hunting stance is one that I have to disagree with but it still makes a good song! The more obscure material includes Song of the Flail which is obviously a rhythmic work song.

All are sung with the usual professionalism and enthusiasm from these two with close harmonies, intelligent arrangements, lots of accompaniments from Toms wide repertoire of instruments and occasional help from Joan and Keith Holloway, Anahata, Lynne Heraud, Ralph Jordan, Barry Lister and Paul Sartin - in fact a large percentage of the Wild Goose mafia!

Erudite, attractively illustrated and sometimes highly amusing sleeve notes give a full account of the songs rounding off another superb album in good style.

O.K. I know the sceptics among you will say, Well of course its a good review theyre Giffs mates, and indeed that is true but when you are reviewing an album like this anything other than overall praise would not be justified. Yes, there are blemishes like a couple of the songs feel oer long and there are a few occurrences when Barbaras voice sounds a little strained but to dwell on these would be petty and pernickety. So there!

If youre already a fan of the Browns then Im sure it wont be long before this CD is on your shelf and if you arent then go and see them when they are in our area again and by the end of another good night youll want to take one home with you!

Folk London

Toby Freeman

This is a fine CD from Tom and Barbara, who are, of course, well known to all of us who love traditional English folk singing. Most of their repertoire comes from their native West Country tradition. I particularly like the a capella harmonies on Eric Bogles song "The Sound of Singing" but there is much fine stuff on this CD. The comic songs "Bread and Cheese and Cider" and "When Mother and Me Joined In" are very good and their final song "In Friendships Name" is a great one to end an evening or a CD with.

Mardles

Mike Everett

This album reminds you of one of those wonderful evenings you spend in a folk club. Eric Bogle's song, The Sound of Singing opens the album, as it will many a set in a club and it closes with a fine Anglicised version of In Friendship's Name, a song of the border shepherd, Willie Scott, that I know from the magnificent singing of Gordeanna McCulloch. Here Tom, Barbara are joined in chorus by Lynne Heraud and Barry Lister to leave you singing along and wanting more.

Between these tracks is a feast of songs, mostly traditional and including versions of familiar favourites like Lowlands of Holland and Barbara Allen, a few light-hearted songs such as Bread & Cheese & Cider and When Mother and Me Joined In, and more from the West country.

As well as writing the thought-provoking title track lamenting the relentless Tide of Change that we call progress, Hilary Bix also provides stunning artwork to accompany Tom and Barbara's song notes. You can't have Tom and Barbara at your local folk club every week so listen to them on this CD.