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Derek Gifford of Folk Northwest

reviews Tanks for the Memory by Fieldwork

This album features the songs and music from the latest folk musical written by Mick Ryan. As I have intimated in previous reviews of Mick’s albums he already has a series of successful shows behind him and there is no reason, on listening to this current offering, why he should not continue with that success.
This show tells the story of the village of Tyneham in Dorset which was controversially acquired  by the military in 1943 for army training. It is a tragic tale of a community deprived permanently of its houses and facilities. In spite of various vigorous campaigns the villagers have never been allowed to return. Ironically the village is now a tourist attraction!
The story is told with a mixture of songs, poems and speech commentaries all of which feature on the album. Doug Bailey at Wild Goose tells me that the mix is deliberately arranged to provide the basis for a radio programme (please note Nick Dow!) and therefore the performances aren’t in the same order as the actual show. However, this does not detract in any way  from the continuity of the story line as produced in the live show.
As in previous productions there are a number of Mick’s fine songs that will stand on their own and will, no doubt, be absorbed into the repertoires of other singers. Of these I particularly enjoyed ‘Whose Is This Land?’, ‘Promises, Promises’ (a song that applies just as much to the present) and ’What Does It Mean to be English?’ the latter, quite rightly in my opinion, having a go at ‘theme park’ England.
Apart from the awful pun of the title there is also a wonderful parody of the well known song  ‘Country  Gardens’ . Not all the songs are Mick’s as in the case of the excellent song written by his sister Joanna  entitled ‘Shadows’ and  a moving poem by Lillian Bond.  Mick has also used traditional tunes for some of his  songs.
Mick is assisted by his regular musical partner Pete Harris and also by Sarah Mallinson  who plays keyboard and accordion on some tracks. There are readings from Nancy Scott and vocals from John and Nicola Bond and Sophie Bond.
As would be expected from a Wild Goose production the whole album is well presented with comprehensive sleeve notes on the story of Tyneham and the songs and readings.
Some of you may have already seen the show at Cleethorpes, Warwick or Sidmouth festivals this year and no doubt  already have the album if not I strongly recommend you try to see it or at least buy the CD. I hope to catch up with the show when I’m performing at Broadstairs Festival in August. Unfortunately there are no dates listed for the north on the current  information sheet . Let’s hope they can bring it up here - soon!