Bob Taberner of Thefolkmag
reviews Swan-Upmanship by The Old Swan BandThis is the bands first recording for over 20 years and marks their 30th anniversary. The band today is very different from how they started out. When Rod and Danni Stradling left, there was a radical change of sound from a melodeon-led band to one with three fiddles and three brass instruments, plus keyboard and percussion. The brass section gives a tremendous lift to the tunes. Being an eight-strong line-up has limited their appearances over the years, but, of late, it seems weve seen them more often as festival and dance organisers realise their importance (and popularity).
Anyone looking for a source of new tunes might be a bit disappointed with this CD. The 16 tracks include some tunes that have appeared on previous recordings and even a few tunes (e.g. Winster Gallop, Soldiers Joy) that might be thought a bit passť in the average session. Digging up new tunes is not what the Old Swan Band are about. They take good tunes and make them eminently danceable. Even the the unlikely insertion of Redwing between the Irish session standards Church Street and St Marys is a triumph. The average session player can learn a lot here about how to play for dancing. In fact, more of them should do just that.