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Dai Woosnam of Dai Woosnam

reviews Flat Earth by Patterson Jordan Dipper

I’d been told about this CD by a couple of friends. Somehow I had not got around to hearing it until this review copy belatedly found its way into my hands. And am I glad it did.

Every so often an album hits you right between the eyes with a startling intensity. This emphatically is one such. I am enthusing about it to all and sundry.

Let’s begin at the beginning, for all you non-Brits reading this. My hunch is that unless you are a real aficionado of English Traditional Music, these names may be new to you. Indeed, they are not exactly household names in their own land.

But James Patterson and Ralph Jordan have made their mark on the British scene, first as the little-known duo Silas and later, as part of the better-known Crows. Plus, they have made other ventures: for instance, the only time I ever spoke to Ralph, he was part of the Fraser Sisters stage act. But, fiddler John Dipper is a new name to me, and I guess, to most of the regulars in Britain’s folk clubs.

And these three have formed the most glorious trio, where their multi instrumentalism and Patterson’s solid vocal delivery (indicative of a wysiwyg persona if ever there was one!) address a selection of some of the strongest songs this side of Paradise.

You know, whenever I review an album, I always look for the positive. But here, so much WAS positive, that I looked very hard for a negative: just to give my review some necessary verisimilitude. And I am clutching at straws a bit, but I think I have found ONE track not to my satisfaction.    
Not that they delivered it badly  they did a solid job on it  but I figure there really MUST be a moratorium on recording “William Taylor”! If I hear it again before I depart this Vale, then I swear it will be too soon. It has been flogged to death.

But the REST! What gems! There were about five I would particularly go to the barricades for: John Tams’s wonderful re-working of Jimmy Miller’s “The Manchester Rambler”, Pete Morton’s best song “Maybe Nothing Spoken”, Bill Caddick’s “Flat Earth”…and then two sensational cuts.

First that great nostalgic hankering for a pre-Dr. Beeching Britain of rural railway stations: “Slow Train”. Donald Swann’s dreamy tune fits the words like a glove: and Patterson’s vocals are of Michael Flanders’ standard.      
Hearing this made me realise how Flanders & Swann are neglected in the folk clubs: and that is a crying shame. Some of their songs are first rate.

But the real masterpiece is Mike Waterson’s magnificent song “Working Chap (What A Crime)”. I recall when I first heard Mike sing this song: it was at a National Folk Festival a decade or so back. The force of the song virtually knocked me over. I couldn’t get it out of my head for weeks. Indeed, even now, I get frissons just thinking of Mike’s delivery that day.

And how well Patterson Jordan Dipper present it. They prove the song as relevant today as when first I heard it.

A quite outstanding album. My only regret is that I did not review it when it came out: had I done so, there is every possibility it would have made my Top Five albums for that year.