Both Shine as One

by Ron Taylor & Jeff Gillett

The song comes first, the singer comes second and the accompaniment comes last. The accompaniment must be sympathetic so that it enhances and does not constrain the song - but that doesnt stop the accompanist from having a really good time and even showing off occasionally (as long as it doesnt get in the way of the song).



Ron Taylor: Lead vocals; harmony vocals (All Among the Barley, Kind Friends and Companions).

Jeff Gillett: Guitar, mandola, mandolin, English concertina, Appalachian dulcimer, harmony vocals (All Among the Barley), unison vocals (Kind Friends and Companions).

All vocal arrangements by Ron Taylor All instrumental arrangements by Jeff Gillett

1 Lisbon 
Trad 

Foreign wars provide the context for this song about the fickleness of one young man, which also features an extraordinarily accommodating young woman with voyeuristic tendencies. Collected by Cecil Sharp from Mrs. Lock, Muchelney Ham, Somerset in 1904. 

2 Seven Little Gypsies 
Trad 

A clash of cultures is enacted in the life and decisions of one woman. This is just one of the many fine versions of this ballad, in which a nobleman’s wife is lured away by one or more gypsies, most of whom subsequently pay for their temerity with their necks. It was collected by Peter Kennedy from Paddy Doran in Belfast in 1952. 

3 Adieu, John Barleycorn 
Public Domain 

Learned from Pete Burnham in Loughborough. Originally recorded by Willard’s Leap (Roy Enticknap, Peter Wray and Graham Walker) who found the poem in Eston Library and set a tune to it. Written in the 18th Century by Mathew Harman of Scarborough, apart from the third verse, which was added by Ron (and I didn’t even notice – Jeff). Possibly the most hypocritical song on the album. 

4 Ferryland Sealer 
Trad 

This sealing song comes from Volume 1 of Songs of the Newfoundland Outports, edited by Kenneth Peacock, and published by the National Museum of Canada. The account is brutal and stark, but no cute furry creatures were harmed in the making of this album. 

5 Jack Caundle 
Trad 

There are many criminals’ good night songs, offering either repentance or defiance from the gallows. In this one, the protagonist keeps up a running commentary beyond the point where this would normally be humanly possible. Collected by Cecil Sharp from William Stokes at Chew Stoke, Somerset in 1907 and kindly passed on to Ron by Eddie Upton. We particularly like the ideas on interior design in verse three. 

6 All Among the Barley 
Mike Gabriel 

A glorious evocation of harvest time, and one of several songs on this album documenting a love/hate relationship with this delightful and nutritious cereal. Tune by Mike Gabriel, who found the words in a book of poems but can’t now remember the book or the author. Fourth verse added by Ron. 

7 Green Bushes 
Trad 

A song about the fickleness of young women, not to mention the deviousness of young men. The interpretation of the concept of loyalty in this song seems to be somewhat elastic. Collected from Lementina Brazil of Over, near Gloucester, by Pete Shepheard. 

8 Edward 
Trad 

Sometimes known as ‘The Two Brothers’ or ‘My Son David’, this is a powerful ballad in which the violence of the action is matched by the tragic beauty of the imagery. It shares some verses with ‘Lucy Wan’. Learned by Ron from Chris Gladwyn in Cheltenham, this is largely the version as sung by the wonderful Paddy Tunney, under yet another title: ‘What put the blood?’ 

9 Rocking the Cradle 


Another fickle young woman, and a severe case of generalisation by an embittered man. Partly from a recording by Buffy Sainte-Marie; partly learned from Jill Smith, founder of the long deceased but fondly remembered Exmouth Arms folk club, in Cheltenham. 

10 The Soldiers Return From the Wars 
Trad 

A celebratory song, full of joy, anticipation (and wishful thinking) on the part of the soldiers. Learned from Dave Stephenson, although we didn’t know where he had found it. Roy Palmer was able to identify it as coming from Thomas D’Urfey’s Wit and Mirth or Pills to Purge Melancholy (1719/1720 edition). He is not aware of any version of the song having been discovered in the oral tradition. This version also features an instrumental digression into Brighton Camp or The Girl I Left Behind Me. 

11 Thomas the Rhymer 
Trad 

Thomas Rymour apparently lived in Ercildoune in the 13th Century, although the historicity of the journey described in this song is surely open to question. Published in ‘Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border’. This version was collated from various sources and Anglicised. 

12 John Barleycorn 
Trad 

Probably the most violent song on the album, but it’s all metaphorical (so that’s all right!) Words as sung by ‘Shepherd’ Haden of Bampton in Oxfordshire, collected by Cecil Sharp in 1909; tune learned by Ron from Dave Swarbrick in Sidmouth, 1969 (although it may have changed slightly since!) 

13 Kind Friends and Companions 


A farewell song with a particularly fine chorus. From Sue Burgess, who learned it from Taffy Thomas while he was getting his hair cut. 
Lisbon
Foreign wars provide the context for this song about the fickleness of one young man
Seven Little Gypsies
A clash of cultures is enacted in the life and decisions of one woman. This is just one of the many fine versions of this ballad
Sample not available
Adieu
Public Domain
Ferryland Sealer
This sealing song comes from Volume 1 of Songs of the Newfoundland Outports
Sample not available
Jack Caundle
There are many criminals’ good night songs
Sample not available
All Among the Barley
A glorious evocation of harvest time
Sample not available
Green Bushes
A song about the fickleness of young women
Sample not available
Edward
Sometimes known as ‘The Two Brothers’ or ‘My Son David’
Sample not available
Rocking the Cradle
Another fickle young woman
Sample not available
The Soldiers Return From the Wars
A celebratory song
Sample not available
Thomas the Rhymer
Thomas Rymour apparently lived in Ercildoune in the 13th Century
Sample not available
John Barleycorn
Probably the most violent song on the album
Sample not available
Kind Friends and Companions
A farewell song with a particularly fine chorus. From Sue Burgess
Sample not available

Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews

Dai Woosnam

Ron and Jeff are two well-established names on the English Folk scene, especially in the Cotswolds area of Gloucestershire.This is their third album together, but their first for the prestigious WildGoose label. It is an album that makes few concessions to the M.O.R. Folkie. It contains about it, more than a whiff of the library at Cecil Sharp House.  

That is to say that the album exudes earnestness and quality.

Early on in the album, whilst not delivering any song I was totally unfamiliar with, it is fair to say that there seems a (sub?)conscious attempt to avoid the Hundred Greatest Hits From The Folk Tradition! Oh sure Seven Little Gypsies, Adieu, John Barleycorn and Jack Caundle are hardly from Folks deleted back catalogue! But by the same token, they are not those songs that the person who attends a folk club a handful of times a year, would be word-perfect on.

By track 9 however, I think that perhaps the duo had decided that maybe the potential CD buyer  when scanning the track list on the back cover  had better recognise some of the tracks pronto! And then goes into greatest hits mode, and comes up with Rocking The Cradle, Thomas The Rhymer, John Barleycorn (if I hear that song just ONCE again, it will turn me to drink!) and Kind Friends and Companions (a version nearer melodically to Vin Garbutts than The Voice Squads).

They do a very good version of absolutely everything (yes, even my bte noire of a song, just mentioned!) and Rons vocals never fail to persuade: mind you, with a talented multi-instrumentalist the quality of Jeff Gillett, I reckon that it would not even be beyond even ME to embark on a solo album. How I just LOVED his consummate work throughout, especially his truly sublime guitar accompaniment on Ferryland Sealer. And his vocal harmony on All Among The Barley. And lead vocalist Ron is every bit his match. No duff notes. This man Taylor never meets a duff note, not even by appointment.

Together, they deliver. And now, one special final word on the liner notes. When I opened the booklet, I could not believe my EYES when I read the opening section. It is headed Our Approach to the Songs.They then set out their raison d tre when it comes to choosing the songs they do, and then follow by describing their modus operandi. Gentlemen, I salute you both! This should be absolutely COMPULSORY with all CDs. Lets have no more cop-outs in printing out lyrics.  And anyway, when a singer sings with such magnificent diction as Taylor does here, then the printing of such lyrics is a superfluous act.

There is nothing REMOTELY superfluous here. Not even track 12 (which as I say, they do very well indeed, and hey, there may be a 13 year old out there who has never heard it and is about to embark on his first can of cider in the alley behind the Spar shop, so I must not knock it!) Re the two John Barleycorns: one little trick they may have missed though, was in not placing them next to each other. Juxtaposing them. Indeed, perhaps letting them segue into each other. Ah! But we can ALL pick our own batting order for the England cricket team!

This album is definitely worth a buy, but that said, do not spend money on it that you have earmarked for spending on food.

Shreds and Patches

Baz Parkes

Ron began his singing career with the much acclaimed and highly influential Songwainers, then moved through Regal Slip (a joke I only recently worked out!) After over 20 years singing mostly unaccompanied, he teamed up with Jeff, a fine multi-instrumentalist whose playing history seems to take in most musical styles. He's played in various ceilidh bands including Rough Music, which, if my memory serves me well, included our esteemed Assistant Ed. amongst its ranks.

Given such a history, the playing and singing are, as you would expect, exemplary, and the production up to Wildgoose's usual faultless standard. There are some unusual variants on well-known songs; Rocking the Cradle (9) and Thomas the Rhymer (11) being particularly effective. All Among the Barley (6) is excellent, and shows that not all great harvest songs have to be traditional. Ron's voice is strong; mature, yet mellow (sounds like an advert for some supermarket cheese. Sorry, Ron!) and ,Jeff's accompaniments work well. But it all sounds very much the same; I'd have liked a bit more variety in pace and style. The closing track hind Friends and Companions gives us that, with some lovely English concertina playing working in absolute harmony with the vocals. But that's probably being picky.

If you are a lover of good songs well sung and accompanied, this is for you. And I can think of a few people working the festivals who could do with giving it a listen as an example of how to do it right.

Folk NorthWest

Derek Gifford

Both Ron and Jeff have long pedigrees in the folk world and this experience shows through throughout the recording. Ron sings while Jeff provides the accompaniments on a variety of instruments which include guitar, mandola, mandolin, English concertina and Appalachian dulcimer; and if that wasnt enough he also adds the occasional harmony line!

The songs are an eclectic mix from mainly traditional sources including well known ones such as Seven Little Gypsies, Green Bushes, John Barleycorn and Rocking the Cradle.

I particularly liked the version of Jack Caundle and the Ferryland Sealer, new to me and which is a fine no holds barred rendition of that despicable trade.

Another new discovery on my part was the opening track, Lisbon, an atypical war time parting song with many original twists in the lyrics!

All Among the Barley, with tune written by Mike Gabriel, is one of my favourite harvest songs so I listened with extra care to this performance - I wasnt disappointed.

Kind Friends and Companions nicely rounds off the collection of 13 songs not all of which Ive commented on, of course..

Apart from the usual comprehensive notes on the singers and the songs (with some amusing asides!) that one comes to expect from Wild Goose inserts there is also a rather intriguing piece entitled Our Approach to the Songs. Im not quite sure why they felt it necessary to explain this because what they say is plainly what they do over the duration of the album!

This is more than just a collection of traditional songs well sung and superbly accompanied. This is an album of carefully crafted arrangements where both singer and accompanist are obviously familiar and confident with their material. Pure joy that doesnt pall!

Folk Mag

Des Redwood

It was a pleasure to be asked to review this CD. I've enjoyed watching Jeff

in the past and marvelling at the range of instruments that he plays so

superbly and to be able to hear him accompany Ron added to that enjoyment.

Jeff and Ron, who is a former member of The Songwainers and Regal Slip, have

created a duo that delights in performing old favourites, often with a

pleasant variation on the tune that you may be expecting from the song

title. The sources of the songs are very varied and that adds to the

satisfaction this CD brings to the listener. Together this creates a fine

selection of tracks, some with additional verses penned by Ron

The CD opens with some lovely instrumental that eases you into Lisbon, a

tale of two lovers, following a very common theme as they are parted by war.

The pace quickens as Ron leads into Seven Little Gypsies, collected in

Ireland. I really got into Jack Caundle, track 5, and will soon hope to sing

this myself as I like its links with the lyrics of Sam Hall. It flows along

nicely with some great words. If you like your barley then you can choose

from three songs that all include the word in their title - Adieu , John

Barleycorn, All Among the Barley and John Barleycorn. Of course this gives

you a choice of which one suits your mood at the time - drown your sorrow or

celebrate! Green Bushes has a very restful delivery reminding me of music

from medieval times. Two other well-known songs that I particularly liked

were Rocking the Cradle and Thomas the Rhymer, the latter being a track in

which both Ron and Jeff blended voice and instrument together very softly

and with feeling, bringing to it along a very appropriate pace that fitted

the lyrics well. Appropriately the CD concludes with a lovely rendition of

Kind Friends and Companions, which I was soon singing with them.

A noticeable feature of this CD is the time allocated to many of the tracks.

Lisbon is the longest at nearly 7 minutes, with Thomas the Rhymer not far

behind at just under 7 minutes while others are a good length, being over 5

minutes. This allows Jeff to show his consummate skills with the many

instruments featured including mandola, mandolin, English concertina,

Appalachian dulcimer and, of course, guitar.

So, with a total of thirteen tracks for your money, is it worth adding to

your collection? It certainly is! This is very nicely crafted CD, well sung

and played by two fine musicians. I look forward to their next album.

Netrythms

David Kidman

Yes, this is the self-same Ron Taylor who first cut his singing teeth with the Songwainers down in Cheltenham, then with Sue Burgess and Graham & Eileen Pratt formed the mighty Regal Slip. What a lineage  two of the finest (and most inventive) vocal harmony ensembles in folk history, yet each so different in character. Probably no wonder, then, that Rons glorious vocal tones are the principal focus of this fine new CD. His voice has such a memorable timbre, incorporating within its ornamentations a distinctive warbling tremolo that gives the line a definitive strength and purpose; theres also a quality of forthrightness of attack in some of the upward leaps which (and I hope neither singer will object to this observation!) much recalls a similar trait in the singing of Brian Peters.

But lets not go too far: Jeffs instrumental contributions should not be underestimated either. As the duos right-on manifesto states regarding their approach to the songs theyve recorded: When it comes to the interpretation and arrangement, the song comes first, the singer comes second and the accompaniment comes last. The accompaniment must be sympathetic so that it enhances and does not constrain the song  but that doesnt stop the accompanist from having a really good time and even showing off occasionally (as long as it doesnt get in the way of the song). One thing that we find particularly helpful for the creation of sympathetic accompaniment is when the accompanist knows the words as well as the singer does And Ron and Jeff clearly practise what they preach, for Jeffs accompaniments  equally proficient whether on guitar, mandola, mandolin, English concertina or Appalachian dulcimer!  are the model of taste and intelligent restraint yet able to revel in the tunes (which have to be worth singing too, of course) while proudly displaying a complementary personality all their own. These abundantly lithe accompaniments, even the more delicately phrased of them, really do enhance the power of the voice singing the songs, making a significant contribution to bringing the words (and importantly, also their tunes) alive.

The opening track, Lisbon, being a case in point: a very compelling reading indeed with a weight that belies the apparent gentleness of the accompaniment.

Throughout the disc, the balance between voice and accompanist is ideal, with all due resonances fully exploited in the clear, crisp yet full-toned recording. Thus proving the CDs title: both performers shining as one indeed.

So what of the songs (which according to the manifesto are the most important part of the package)? Well at first quick glance the tracklisting appears distinctly unpromising, with some overly well-trodden titles (John Barleycorn, Green Bushes, Rocking The Cradle, Thomas The Rhymer, Seven Little Gypsies)  but stifle that yawn, for these all turn out to be truly refreshing renditions of interestingly selected and compiled versions (sources for which, both documentary and sung, are properly itemised in the duos concise yet informed booklet notes). Boring they aint! Jack Caundle turns out to be a delightful variant on Sam Hall, while the two selections with John Barleycorn in the title are completely different in character. Having mentioned the above titles, Id point out that the CD does have its share of more obscure songs too, such as Ferryland Sealer (a Newfoundland sealing song) and The Soldiers Return From The Wars. The duos accomplished vocal harmonising on All Among The Barley demonstrates a ready ease to their craft and Id liked to have heard more of them singing together. Their hearty unison singing on the finale Kind Friends And Companions then provides a perfect, warm end to the disc. I was intrigued and amused to read, incidentally, that this fine example of the farewell song genre was acquired from Sue Burgess, who learned it from Taffy Thomas while he was getting his hair cut! (so does that mean he was being treated most barberously, I wonder?!)

RocknReel

Sean McGhee



Ron Taylor and Jeff Gillett area folk duo based in Gloucestershire with a considerable pedigree within the UK folk scene. With two previous albums available only on cassette, Both Shine As One is their first venture into the world of CD. Taylor handles vocals, displaying a penchant for colourful phrasing that occasionally brings to mind Peter Bellamy. Gillett is a subtle, yet sympathetic player with guitar, mandola, mandolin, concertina and dulcimer adding much flesh to the solid bones of Taylor's delivery. Full marks for a rounded collection of traditional songs - 'Seven Little Gypsies', 'Adieu,John Barleycorn', 'Green Bushes', 'Edward', 'Thomas The Rhymer', John Barleycorn' amongst them that continue to surprise thanks to the duo's original take on the popularised versions.

The Living Tradition

Paul Burgess

Well this is fairly easy - one of the finest singers you can currently hear "on the scene", with one of the finest accompanists partnering him.

With a voice like Ron Taylor's, it's astonishing that there have not been a string of successful CDs from him over the last thirty years; as it is we have only had his contribution on the Songwainers" LP (about time that was re-issued, surely, anyone know who owns the Argo rights?); the excellent Regal Slip line-up and two tapes on Dave Howard's Redwood label - but the last of those was eleven years ago.

Listen to the second track 'Seven Yellow Gypsies' - I would be amazed if you could find anyone, anywhere who could sing it better that this. There is a nice choice of material, a couple of gripping ballads, with some classic English songs as well as a few more unusual items to spice the mix.

All of these are accompanied by Jeff Gillett whose inspired accompaniments display complete empathy with the song - here embroidering a phrase, there pointing up the rhythmic drive. As well as some stunning guitar work, he also uses mandola, mandolin, Appalachian dulcimer and a spot of concertina, which means the CD has quite a nice range of changes in the tonal palette. I should have perhaps liked another quicker number of two - but that just for the selfish reason that no-one does it better than these two.

Buy it and enjoy!

EDS

Joan Crump

Ron Taylor and Jeff Gillett have been collaborating musically for more than a decade, and it shows. Though Ron was first and foremost an unaccompanied singer. his rich voice is enhanced and uplifted by Jeff's sympathetic accompaniments and harmonies.

The track listing is, to be honest, unlikely to set your world on fire; there are a fair number of standards (or variations on standards) here. For instance. 'Seven Little Gypsies', Edward' and Jack Caundle' are all songs with which you're likely to be familiar, and the arrangements are understated arid un-showy (the liner notes give some insight into Ron and Jeff's philosophy of letting the songs speak for themselves). But this leaves plenty of room for Ron's lovely voice to convey the emotion, passion or humour that the song requires, This is especially evident on the jaunty 'The Soldiers' Return from the Wars', and the subtly haunting `Rocking the Cradle',

Now and again a song or tune enjoys an almost ubiquitous popularity. As it happens, I'm currently holding my own competition for `Best version of John Barleycorn 2006' (winner to be announced later this year, in my sitting room). Recent interpretations have been remarkable in both their diversity and frequency, and I'm rather hoping the category might be included in the next BBC Folk Awards. I only mention this because the Noble Grain features in not one, but three different tracks here. In addition to the obligatory version of the classic song, we have a less-than-convincing farewell to drink in 'Adieu, John Barleycorn' and a hymn to the seasons in 'All Among the Barley' All are enjoyable and provide an interesting kind of thematic thread, but the latter track is one of the most enjoyable on the CD, and one that I keep returning to again and again. It encapsulates the best that this recording has to offer: subtle instrumentation, shimmering harmonies and accomplished vocal interpretation.

This is a gentle, well-crafted offering from two confident performers.

Whats Afoot

Jacqueline Patten

Prior to forming a duo Ron Taylor and Jeff Gillett had performed with Regal Slip and The Downfielders, respectively, so it is little wonder that they perform together to such a high standard. Ron has a fine tenor voice that lends itself to the traditional English style to which he aspires, to tell the story, while Jeff Gillett plays a selection of stringed instruments and English concertina in a sympathetic and understated manner; he also sings harmonies.

The sleeve notes explain that when they select and arrange songs, the song comes first, the singer comes second and the accompaniment last. This process is apparent throughout. There are 13 tracks and every one tells a story: eleven of them are traditional; the other two were written as poems to which a tune has been added. On occasion Ron has added a verse. Three of the songs come from the Sharp canon, two are Child ballads, one came from Peter Kennedy while the others are drawn from a variety of sources.


It is hard to select a few tracks to mention as the CD is very much a whole entity: that is one of the many talents of Ron Taylor and Jeff Gillett. If your taste is for fine songs, sung in a traditional English style, to a high standard, then this CD will give endless pleasure. Once again WildGoose have produced an outstanding album.

Mardles

Mike Everett

One of the things I do when I receive a CD for review is to look at the track listing. This often gives useful information when the album is by an artist whose name I don't instantly recognise. Looking at the songs on thus album, I immediately wanted to play it and wasn't disappointed.

Ron Taylor has a remarkable voice and, on reading the sleeve notes, I realised that I should have recognised him at once from when he was a member of that wonderful vocal harmony group, Regal Slip. To complement Ron's voice is some beautifully empathic accompaniment by Jeff Gillett on guitar, mandola, mandolin, English concertina and Appalachian dulcimer.

The material will appeal to all lovers of traditional song including a good selection of ballads such as Lisbon and Edward and one particular favourite of mine, Thomas the Rhymer, that doesn't seem to be sung or recorded very much. Three of the songs are in praise of barley (or its best known product), John Barleycorn, All Among The Barley and Adieu, John Barleycorn.

I can think of no better way of reviewing this album than by quoting from the introduction to the liner notes which explain Ron and Jeff's approach to their choice of songs. "The words have to have substance and value in their own right. There needs to be something interesting, striking or unusual to make the song worth singing. The words matter. However, the tune has to be worth singing too. When it comes to the interpretation and arrangement, the song comes first, the singer comes second and the accompaniment comes last. The accompaniment must be sympathetic so that it enhances and does not constrain the song - but that doesn't stop the accompanist from having a really good time and even showing off occasionally (as long as it doesn't get in the way of the song)".

These songs are worth singing and worth listening to. Although most of the songs will be familiar to most folk song enthusiasts, you will be hard pressed to find better versions anywhere. And you won't find better value for money either with this CD lasting over an hour.

Around Kent Folk

Kathy & Bob Drage

Ron & Jeff believe that the words of a song has to have substance and value in their own right. The song first, the singer second and the accompaniment last - which must be sympathetic and not constrain the song. Ron takes lead vocal with a strong fulsome voice that has a delighfful timbre. Jeff plays guitar, mandola, mandolin, English concertina, Appalachian dulcimer and takes lead on a couple of songs. Opening with the fine ballad 'Lisbon' going on to 'Ferryland Sealer' (lovely timing), 'Green Bushes', 'Jack Caundle' (version of Sam Hall) and 'All Among the Barley' (Ron added the 4th verse). Concludes with 'Kind Friends & Companions' which has very pleasant sentiments.

We could listen to Ron & Jeff for hours.