Sounding Now

by The Claque

Price: £4.99
WGS354CD

Distilled from the legendary groups of old, four voices of depth and maturity blended to give warmth and harmony to the English tradition.

Dave Lowry
Tom Addison
Sean O’Shea
Barry Lister 



Historical Background

The Claquer were an organized body of people who, either for hire or from other motives, banded together to applaud or deride a performance and thereby attempt to influence the audience, especially during competitions. As an institution they date back to ancient Greece. Under the Roman Empire claques were common in the law courts as well as the theatre. In the 16th-century a French poet, Jean Daurat would buy up a number of tickets for a performance of one of his plays and distributed them gratuitously to those who promised publicly to express their approval. In the 18th century they created an organisation of claque, and opened an office in Paris for the supply of Claquers. It became a regular institution. The manager of a theatre sends an order for any number of Claquers. They would usually work under an elected leader a chef de claque, whose duty was to start the demonstration of approval or disapproval, depending what they were hired to do. The Claquers had different roles - there were the Commissaires, those who learnt pieces of the play by heart, and drew the attention to the audience to its good points between the acts; The Rieurs who laughed loudly at the jokes; the Pleureurs or pleaders who feigned tears, and the Bisseurs who simply clapped their and shouted to secure encores.

1 The Devil’s Questions 
trad 

Sean wrote the tune we use for THE DEVIL’S QUESTIONS. It’s a typical shame-the-devil song where you can escape the clutches of evil by telling the truth. The boy in this case seems to have got away with murder when the devil forgets how many questions he’s asked and lets the boy off one-short. 



2 Devoran Smugglers 
trad 

DEVORAN SMUGGLERS is a great favourite of ours and we often start a set with it. It was noted from one John Gay in the early twentieth century. He was a former bargeman and it is suggested that he probably would have learned it in Falmouth. Dave has been singing this one for years and when we sang it together, we were delighted with the energy in its shanty idiom. 

3 The Mountains Adieu 
trad 

is from the Peninsular Wars and was learned from the singing of George Deacon. It questions the ideal of the righteous causes of war when even God’s protected hit the dust at the hands of the French. Al Murray would not approve! 

4 I went down to London 
trad 

I WENT DOWN TO LONDON is from the singing of Karl Peachey of Devon. It belongs to the family of swapping and lying songs where a singer would try to out-claim the fantastic declarations of the singer who sang the previous verse, often holding some token that would be passed around. Our great claim is that we, once, nearly got this completely right in performance. At Cheltenham, Tom’s phone went off just as he was about to sing his bit. We didn’t flinch! 

5 My Faithful Johnnie 
trad 

The song MY FAITHFUL JOHNNIE, as sung here was learned from Eileen Armstrong from Belfast in 1973. It has a strange mix of provenance including claims that the tune is by Beethoven. Jeannie Robertson is probably best responsible for a wider knowledge of it. 

6 The Goose and the Common 
trad 

The late Martin Bloomer took the well-known late medieval verse, added a chorus, tune and extra stanzas to make THE GOOSE AND THE COMMON, a song from the time of the early enclosures of common land to accommodate sheep. The last verse has a lesson for societies that accept their bad lot, blindly and advocates fighting back! 

7 Farewell, Farewell 


We have Dave Lowry to thank for teaching us the singing of FAREWELL, FAREWELL, from Padstow in Cornwall. It is a poignant song which was used to accompany the putting away of the peace ’oss at the end of Mayday, during the great war. 

8 The Trumpeter 
trad 

Sean’s father called this song “Trumpet Boy At Balaclava”, but it is rightly called THE TRUMPETER and written by J. Airley-Dix. Sean can trace this as being a family-sung song as far back as the end of the first world war. In places, the melody copies bugle calls from various times in a soldier’s day. 

9 The Soldiers Return from the Wars 
trad 

THE SOLDIERS RETURN FROM THE WARS is from the pen of Thomas D’Urfey in “Pills To Purge Melancholy”. What a girl will do for a man in uniform! 

10 Drink, Puppy Drink 
trad 

We had thought DRINK, PUPPY DRINK to be a traditional song. It’s not. It was written by CJ Melville-Whyte in 1874. It was purported to be the bully, Flashman’s favourite galloping song during which he would bestride himself of a convenient junior for a steed and whip him around the room. As you would. 

11 Once a Farmer 
trad 

Dave Robbins is also the source for the song of another family disagreement sorted out in ONCE A FARMER. It’s the story of the ardour of youth cooling down to an eventual acceptance of the passing of the years. From Herefordshire, we are given to believe. 

12 Tom of Bedlam 
trad 

TOM OF BEDLAM is a grand and image laden song in which the hero declares his fantastic experiences along the way of life and wonders why he’s incarcerated in such a place. A diagnosis of bi-polarity in a big way! From the singing of the great Dave Stephenson of The Songwainers. 

13 Joyful May 
trad 

JOYFUL MAY has a well-embraced theme and here the song is assembled from several texts. Barry and Sean sing this as a duet and they learned it in the late seventies from they know not where, they declare. 

14 Salt Horse 
trad 

SALT HORSE celebrates the practice of selling clapped-out old horses to ship’s captains to be salted down for meat on a long voyage. An interesting and sympathetic song that suggests that sailors were reluctant to eat horse for esoteric reasons. Probably not so. Also gleaned from Dave Stephenson. 

15 The Miller and His Three Sons 
trad 

Dave Robbins sang at The Jolly Porter Folk Club in Exeter in the sixties and early seventies and it’s from him that we take THE MILLER AND HIS THREE SONS. It reinforces the well trodden theme of Jack, the youngest and least valued son, turning up trumps, surprisingly, in an intellectually illuminated way. The song is from Devon, we believe. 
The Devil’s Questions
Sean wrote the tune we use for THE DEVIL’S QUESTIONS. It’s a typical shame-the-devil song where you can escape the clutches of evil by telling the truth. The boy in this case seems to have got away with murder when the devil forgets how many questions he’s asked and lets the boy off one-short. <br> <br>
Devoran Smugglers
DEVORAN SMUGGLERS is a great favourite of ours and we often start a set with it. It was noted from one John Gay in the early twentieth century. He was a former bargeman and it is suggested that he probably would have learned it in Falmouth. Dave has been singing this one for years and when we sang it together
Sample not available
The Mountains Adieu
is from the Peninsular Wars and was learned from the singing of George Deacon. It questions the ideal of the righteous causes of war when even God’s protected hit the dust at the hands of the French. Al Murray would not approve!
Sample not available
I went down to London
I WENT DOWN TO LONDON is from the singing of Karl Peachey of Devon. It belongs to the family of swapping and lying songs where a singer would try to out-claim the fantastic declarations of the singer who sang the previous verse
My Faithful Johnnie
The song MY FAITHFUL JOHNNIE
Sample not available
The Goose and the Common
The late Martin Bloomer took the well-known late medieval verse
Sample not available
Farewell
Sample not available
The Trumpeter
Sean’s father called this song “Trumpet Boy At Balaclava”
Sample not available
The Soldiers Return from the Wars
THE SOLDIERS RETURN FROM THE WARS is from the pen of Thomas D’Urfey in “Pills To Purge Melancholy”. What a girl will do for a man in uniform!
Sample not available
Drink
trad
Sample not available
Once a Farmer
Dave Robbins is also the source for the song of another family disagreement sorted out in ONCE A FARMER. It’s the story of the ardour of youth cooling down to an eventual acceptance of the passing of the years. From Herefordshire
Sample not available
Tom of Bedlam
TOM OF BEDLAM is a grand and image laden song in which the hero declares his fantastic experiences along the way of life and wonders why he’s incarcerated in such a place. A diagnosis of bi-polarity in a big way! From the singing of the great Dave Stephenson of The Songwainers.
Sample not available
Joyful May
JOYFUL MAY has a well-embraced theme and here the song is assembled from several texts. Barry and Sean sing this as a duet and they learned it in the late seventies from they know not where
Sample not available
Salt Horse
SALT HORSE celebrates the practice of selling clapped-out old horses to ship’s captains to be salted down for meat on a long voyage. An interesting and sympathetic song that suggests that sailors were reluctant to eat horse for esoteric reasons. Probably not so. Also gleaned from Dave Stephenson.
Sample not available
The Miller and His Three Sons
Dave Robbins sang at The Jolly Porter Folk Club in Exeter in the sixties and early seventies and it’s from him that we take THE MILLER AND HIS THREE SONS. It reinforces the well trodden theme of Jack

Folk Northwest

Derek Gifford

The Claque comprise of Dave Lowry, Barry Lister (both sang with Isca Fair over 30 years ago!), Tom Addison (ex Songwainer member 30 years ago!) and Sean O'Shea (who sang with Barry in Hollinmor 30 years ago!) As you can see from my remarks in parenthesis they're all 'mature' seasoned performers! Their maturity and experience comes through too in this excellent recording by Doug Bailey at Wild Goose.

All the songs are a cappella and arranged with some splendid four part harmonies. Although they only finally got together as a group a couple of years ago their voices blend very well both in terms of timing and harmony.

The list of songs contains versions of some well known ones  including The Devil's Questions, to a tune written by Sean, Drink, Puppy Drink, Tom of Bedlam and The Miller and His Three Sons.

Less well known are Devoran Smugglers, a Devonian song as the title implies, Once a Farmer learned from Dave Robbins and The Goose and the Common which the late Martin Bloomer put together from original verse. The song I found most interesting however was Salt Horse (yes it's a sea song, of course!) which tells of the practice of selling horse meat to sailors.

If you like unaccompanied four part harmony singing of interesting songs then I strongly recommend this CD; if you are a little reluctant then I would still suggest you push the boat out and get it as you will be hard pushed to find a better sound.

'And where did the name of the group come from?', I hear you ask. Well, Claque (prononunced 'Klak') is 'an institution for securing the success of a public performance by bestowing upon it preconcerted applause' ... no I didn't look it up, it's in the sleeve notes!

So that explains the tumultuous applause at the end of this recording! Available from Wild Goose or through Proper Music Distribution.

EDS

Clive Pownceby

These are enlivening times for 'our' music.  With fresh performers emerging, fully formed, seemingly before they can vote or legally buy alcohol, it's equally pleasing that persons of a certain age can also make their presence felt.  Sometimes old-fashioned virtues are no bad thing.

Tom Addison, Barry Lister, Dave Lowry and Sean O'Shea (Claque: 'securing the success of a public performance by bestowing upon it preconcerted applause' � Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary) have known one another since the early days of the 1960s revival as members of various groups � Tom, a Songwainer of noted fame, Dave and Barry with Isca Fayre (whose Candle Records vinyl Then Around Me Young And Old is still treasured by this reviewer), and Sean with Barry in Hollinmoor.

Only in 2006 did the light bulb moment of 'we should maybe sing together' shine. This is a satisfying album of totally a cappella English traditional (for the most part) song, of the old school without bells and whistles, in a nononsense fashion. As such it is to be cherished.

Whether extolling life's course ('Joyful May') illegal importing ('Devoran Smugglers') or the contravention of Trades Descriptions ('Salt Horse') the tight, dignified four-part harmonies and committed delivery display a thorough and sturdy grounding that only comes from 'singing in' source material over many years. Always tuneful, always precise, by turns reflective and rousing and with voices as deep, rich, and warming as port and brandy �this is why we liked folk song in the first place.  No revelations then, but all one would expect from singers with such pedigrees, and solid quality as standard. An absence of clever-cloggery might leave fans of the-nextbig-thing cold but will delight those who value substance and style.

A special pleasure.

Around Kent Folk

Four voices, Dave Lowry, Tom Addison, Sean O'Shea and Barry Lister combined in powerful harmony and pure a'cappella singing. They delight in the energy of the 'shanty idiom' in former bargeman John Gay's 'Devoran Smugglers'. 'The Goose and the Common' about the early enclosures of common land for sheep. 'Farewell, Farewell from Padstow' ? a poignant song to put away the peace 'oss at the end of Mayday during the great war. 'Tom of Bedlam' sung to a slower tune. Good to hear of 'The Soldier's Return from the Wars' and then there's Flashman's galloping song 'Drink Puppy Drink'. Sometimes ribald but never distasteful, often heartbreaking and joyful. Four voices blending to bring warmth and harmony to the English tradition.

fRoots

David Kidman

The Claque blends together four voices of depth and maturity, all with serious folk credentials. Dave Lowry and Sean O'Shea conjure up memories of '70s acts Isca Fayre and Hollinmor, while Tom Addison is fondly remembered from the Songwainers (whose iconic Argo album must surely be a candidate for reissue), in whose recently re?formed line?up we also find Barry Lister (whose fine Ghosts And Greasepaint album gave me much pleasure).

Here, with refreshingly no?frills performances and excellently judged recording, The Claque give us 15 traditional (orthereabouts) songs in warm and considered a cappella harmony: nothing over?cosy or tediously safe but plenty to fascinate the eager or more adventurous ear. The group's repertoire is well chosen: off the beaten track it may be, but it's a connoisseur's selection with some really fine songs from a variety of sources. Two?including the grand, epic Tom Of Bedlam?come from the singing of the Songwainers' Dave Stephenson; the poignant Farewell, Farewell comes from Padstow in the time of the Great War; Drink, Puppy, Drink is a vigorous galloping?song; whereas My Faithful Johnnie, gleaned from the singing of Jeannie Robertson, is possibly the most well?known item on the disc.

If harmony singing is your bag then you'll find much to admire and enjoy in these performances, for there's much that's exciting going on, in the lower parts in particular. For those less used to this manner of delivery, however, closer listening is required in order to get the most out of the arrangements but that's no less than they deserve, to be fair. The full ensemble can occasionally seem mildly underpowered or undersung, but that's a minor issue considering the superb quality of the actual singing on both an individual and combined basis.

Whats Afoot

Isca Fayre, Hollinmor, The Songwainers - all the members of The Claque, which, officially, only came into being as a group in 2006,belonged to one or more of these lusty groups that reach back over the past forty something years. Barry Lister, Dave Lowry, Sean O'Shea and Tom Addison continue the tradition of powerful unaccompanied, close harmony singing-occasionally not so close, for they're not afraid to throw in the odd deliberate discord or unconventional concadence, to great effect.

Their material is drawn from the British Isles and almost all is traditional. Though I've associated songs like DRINK PUPPY DRINK and the scary TOM OF BEDLAM with the group members for a long time, several of the offerings, I had not heard until relatively recently when they were trying them out at their club at The Globe in Exeter. There're also a few well-known songs from their repertoire that I might have expected on this album. Never mind, for I defy anyone to be disappointed by the songs they have selected, or not to appreciate the quality of their vocal arrangements.

In MY FAITHFUL JOHNNIE and the Padstow  song, FAREWELL, FAREWELL, their close harmony is perhaps at its best, gentle in nature, as befits the character of the songs. In stark contrast, THE TRUMPETER and THE GOOSE AND THE COMMON are powerful in subject and delivery. One wouldn't expect this quartet to omit a suitable nonsense song and I WENT DOWN TO LONDON, from the singing of the late Karl Peachey fits the bill admirably.

A brilliant CD-well worth waiting for!

Folk News Kernow

Chris Ridley

Some of the most rewarding versions of traditional songs of all time have been by unaccompanied male quartets-Isca Fayre, Songwainers, Hollinmor, Crows, Ramsbottom-and this four continues this fine practice.

Dave Lowry, Tom Addison, Sean O'Shea and Barry Lister have terrific folk histories. Fully harmonised, these fifteen superb tracks are as good as a feast.

Folk London

Peter Crabb-Wyke

The Claque are Dave Lowry, Sean O'Shea, Tom Addison and Barry Lister and are noted for their powerful harmonies.

These fifteen tracks are a fine introduction to their repertoire and taken individually there isn't a bad one among them. Flashman fans will be especially delighted to hear his favourite drinking song, Melville-Whyte's DRINK PUPPY DRINK.

However,a studio recording will always lack some of the spark that makes acapella music so exciting when heard live.If you are accustomed to strong choruses in a folk club, then you will probably start to feel the lack of that "spark" when playing this from end to end.

A wonderful CD to dip into or to mix with other material on your MP3 player.

Rock n Reel

Dai Jeffries

3 Star Rating

Lovers of unaccompanied harmony singing with long memories will revere the names of The Songwainers, Isca Fayre and Hollinmor, whose personnel included Dave Lowry, Sean O' Shea, Tom Addison and Barry Lister �now together as The Claque.

The voices are older and deeper now but little else has changed and the record sounds rather quaint as a result. Some of the songs � 'The Devil's Questions', 'The Miller And His Sons', 'Drink, Puppy Drink' and 'Tom Of Bedlam' - will be familiar, albeit in different forms. The latter is The Songwainers' version taken at a slower pace than usual and with words I've not heard anywhere else. Other highlights are 'The Goose And The Common', part written by the late Martin Bloomer, and 'Devoran Smugglers'.

Sounding Now won't change the world but if it sends you into the loft to dig out those long-banished albums, it will have done a valuable job.

Shreds & Patches

Chris �Yorkie� Bartram

Tom Addison, Barry Lister, Dave Lowry, Sean O'Shea, The Songwainers, Isca Fayre, Hollinmor - if you know anything about great singers of the south and west of England you will know at least one of these names. Dave and Barry were half of Isca Fayre in the 1960s; Tom and Barry have both been in the Songwainers; Sean and Barry sang together in Hollinmor in the 1970s. Sean sang harmony vocals on the critically acclaimed CD by Jackie Oates recently.

They've all been singing for very many years in various guises - solos, duets, trios - and now, at last, as a quartet. And what a splendid quartet they are sounding now!

And what a splendid collection of songs they have put together. Starting with a rousing version of The Devil's Questions where a boy has to answer nine silly questions to save his soul. (In this version, he gets away with only eight but the Devil doesn't notice!) There are songs about smuggling in the best Devoran tradition; joyful songs about the return of spring or drinking; love songs and a wry comment about the stealing of the common lands based on the well-known rhyme, �The law locks up the man or woman who steals the goose from off the common but turns the bigger robber loose who steals the common from the goose�. There are interesting variants of fairly widely-known pieces such as My Faithful Johnnie; Tom of Bedlam and The Miller's Three Sons. There's a few others that I've never heard before, including The Mountains Adieu; The Trumpeter and Salt Horse (a sailor's protest about being fed on horse-meat).

I'm no expert in recording techniques but I must comment on the way the four voices can all be identified clearly and separately all the way through. Every note and nuance of each singer can be heard (which might be very useful if you want to learn how to sing harmonies) It doesn't really surprise me, however, as the voices are all so wonderfully rich and individual and they were recorded by an engineer who knows his stuff - Doug Bailey at WildGoose Studios.

I've only one minor criticism of this CD and that is the inclusion of a track of �claque� applause at the end. Claque refers to the planting of cheer-leaders in an audience to trigger applause at the end of a performance. It implies that such applause is not really deserved - which is definitely not the case here. If they recorded a live performance I'm sure it would end with a much louder amd longer track of genuine applause.