Val Huzzard of EDS
reviews Swan-Upmanship by The Old Swan BandA brand new CD from a band that?in one form or another? have been around a good long time.
This CD does what Old Swan do best ? make you want to get up and dance your socks off!
By the time I had heard as far as track 3 (An unusual version of the Steamboat followed by one of my favourites ?Gloucester Hornpipe) I was close to calling on the neighbours to get up a set for The Nottingham swing.
The 3 to 4 fiddles of Fi Fraser, Paul Burgess, John Adams and Flos Headford really drive this music and create a truly wild and exciting sound.
Im a great fan of gutsy brass in dance bands, but I was a little disappointed with the mixing here. The saxophones of Jo Freya and Neil Gledhill seemed to be mixed well back and hard to distinguish at times. The trombone of
John Adams came into its own at times, but again I felt was underplayed.
There are some absolutely cracking tunes on this CD. Its interesting to read in the sleeve notes just how many were collected from melodeon players when there isnt a melodeon between them any more. A lot of this material is (possibly over) familiar?what I would call standard ceilidh tunes played in a very traditional way. The Winster Gallop/Flowers of Edinburgh sets contain tunes heard in sessions and ceilidhs up and down the land. However Old Swan give these tunes a very special magic. They are all brilliant musicians, and are all obviously having the time of their lives playing this.
In contrast, the two waltzes Wenlock Edge/Summer Waltz are less well known, but make a good pair. Well Done Old Swan for including the latter by Ale Muller. Its a superb Swedish waltz, and deserves more airing here.
So, if you are a fan of good solid ceilidh band music, enjoy listening to real feel good sounds and want to hear some great musicianship. Buy this and get your mates round to dance all night. By the way Old Swan, Ive already started learning some of these great tunes on the melodeon to introduce into Sheffield sessions.