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Derek Gifford of Folk Northwest

reviews Wreck off Scilly by Andy Clarke and Steve Tyler

Andy Clarke is well known in his native Devon and has made a number of forays to us in the north west over the last few years. He is a fine singer and musician who plays bouzouki and guitar.

Steve Tyler is probably less well known to north western audiences but has a very good pedigree having played with the Jackie Oates band and having been featured on Radio 3's Early Music show. He plays hurdy gurdy and citterne on this album. Both Andy and Steve are virtuoso players.

All the songs bar one are from the tradition with Baring-Gould's collection featuring strongly. The exception is Rob Steven's Over the Hills which is a lovely song based on the story of Adam and Eve which is well sung by Andy and with a gentle accompaniment. The album opens with a version of the Coal Owner and the Pitman's Wife which drives along nicely setting the stage for the rest of the album. Andy has a good voice and his diction is excellent making his performances easy to listen to.

The six tracks featuring tunes are a wide mix of English, Spanish, Danish and French works and feature the hurdy-gurdy as the lead instrument on many of them. This might put some people off this album as I am well aware that for many the hurdy-gurdy is an 'acquired taste'. However, with exception of Steve's own tune The Wendigo which I did have difficulty with, I didn't find the esoteric sound of this instrument particularly distracting.

Nice to hear again the Bell Ringing song collected by Baring-Gould which I have not seen recorded since Tony Rose did a lovely unaccompanied version on his 'Young Hunting' LP (!). This one is sensitively accompanied and brings the CD to a satisfactory finish.

There are brief but adequate notes on the songs, tunes and the performers and some nice piccys of the pair in various staged poses with picturesque Devon scenes in the background making it a nicely presented album.

This is a finely produced album for the hard bitten 'traddys' I think and no the worse for that!