Rees Wesson of Shreds and Patches
reviews Return Journey by Dave Arthur with Pete Cooper & Chris MoretonA fascinating exploration of tunes and songs which have traveled back and forth between Britain and America. Many of the items will be familiar in one form or another, as at some point in history they were all smash hits on at least one side of the Atlantic.
Dave Arthurs sleeve notes are a joy to read, being full of interesting stuff about the music and the people who played and listened to it.
Featuring Dave Arthur on banjo, melodeon and guitar with Pete Cooper on fiddle and Chris Moreton on guitar the performances are top notch. The CD opens with a full blown version of the Cotswold Morris tune Shepherds Hey with Pete Cooper sounding like the very Walter Bulwer himself. This segues neatly into Old Molly Hare which is an American Old Time version of the same tune. Refer to the sleeve notes and Dave tells us that both appear to have a common ancestry in Neil Gows Fairy Dance published around 1802. Betcha didnt know that?
And theres more ? When He Cometh written in the late 19th century is still a popular American hymn. It shares the same tune as Michael Turners Waltz which is probably the most popular waltz tune at English tune sessions here in the 21st century. Michael Turner was parish clerk and choir leader at Warnham in Sussex also in the late 19th century and latest research shows that the original tune was in fact written by Mozart. Betcha didnt know that either?
And theres more, loads more. All your favourite old songs and tunes given a new lease of life and imbued with new sentiment and tradition.
There are sixteen tracks here and the editor is on the red telephone warning of impending copy date, so Ill be brief. Child ballads feature ghastly murder in The Two Sisters, the supernatural in Little Margaret and a Gypsy lover in Harrison Brady. Theres a great version of Oh Death (a song which turned up recently in the Coen brothers film Oh. Brother, Where art thou) and lots of great fiddle and banjo tunes played in a relaxed and friendly style.