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JG of Stirrings

reviews Time to Rise by Crows

Crows were a popular presence on the UK folk scene for around a decade 1977 87, during which time they produced two LP records, Crows in 1981 followed by 1986’s No Bones Or Grease.This new compilation combines tracks from those vinyl releases with eight songs recorded live for radio, and re¬mastered by Doug Bailey for the present release.

The band’s line up underwent several changes during its lifespan, featuring at various stages such luminaries as Mick Ryan, James Patterson, John Burge, Ralph Jordan, Dave Bordewey, Jim Younger and Steve Faux. For the most part, no more than four of these gentlemen feature at any given point!
So a trip down memory lane for the senior folk fan? Well, yes, in a way though the good news is that the music here has not dated in any way, coming across fresh, vibrant and lively. Crows’ blend of strong male voices in harmony is notably mainstream in style, in that the lines and delivery reflect very much a style heard in festival singarounds and shanty week¬ends across the nation. It’s a plaintive, stirring sound which serves songs such as Bold Wolfe (mostly acapella here) and Coast Of Peru well indeed. The story is the thing here, and Crows engage the listener’s attention and keep it throughout.

An expressively picked acoustic guitar introduces The Factory Girl a touching and powerful lead vocal from Mick here, moving up the register to build the tension as the tale unfolds, driven on by plaintive fiddle and those brass bound harmonies from James, Ralph and Dave. Grand. When This Old Hat Was New is vocally led by Dave in a wistful, relaxed style.

Instrumentals? Gavotte En Rondeau, arranged for duet con¬certina by Ralph, is played by him and Dave with many a nimble grace note and neat counterpoint. Mention must be made of the high quality of both production and performance on the tracks rescued from local radio archives and included here: Factory Girl, Time To Rise and the other six such serve well to remind us of the impeccable standard of music produced by Crows in a live, unadorned setting.

The album’s “encore” is a funky, Bo Diddley beat rendition of Laura Nyro’s And When I Die, which takes the song in a notably different direction from the single hit by American jazz rock band Blood Sweat and Tears!

One hopes that this CD will gain much airplay, and prompt the band to consider putting it back together, if only for a few farewell tours. A rich and varied delight, and a great memento of Crows, a real force to be reckoned with during some golden days of the UK folk scene.