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Vic Smith of fRoots

reviews Echoes of Alfred by Bob and Gill Berry

If the English folk scene were a skeleton then the vertebrae would be those people, often couples, who take it on themselves to become the organising activists within their own area who carry out the tasks of mounting festivals, running clubs, promoting dances, trying to take the music out of its ghetto into the community and generally generating enthusiasm in their own area. A prime example would be Bob and Gill in Wiltshire. They deserve praise and thanks for all their achievements alone but we have to add to that the fact that they are engaging performers live and that they produce enjoyable albums.

This is their second on the Wildgoose label and the emphasis is on material from their own area of the Upper Thames. This makes their obvious major source the great work of Alfred Williams. Not discouraged by the fact that he only noted the words, they have borrowed, reconstructed or made the melodies to carry the traditional words with consistently pleasing results. This makes their songs sound slightly different from the standard versions and it is these differences that enable the listener to appreciate the songs with fresh ears.

They have some talented musicians among their guest musicians including Gill Redmond and Lewis Wood but accompaniments are kept straightforward and unobtrusive; they are also joined on some choruses by other members of their long running band, Tinkers' Bag.