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Alan Rose of The Living Tradition

reviews 8 More Miles by Rattle on the Stovepipe

The band takes their name from a tune on their previous Wild Goose CD (Return Journey - WGS 313), where they were billed as 'Dave Arthur with Pete Cooper and Chris Moreton'. Like that last CD, the tracks on '8 More Miles' are traditional songs and tunes from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, sometimes consecutive, sometimes simultaneous, but always admirably explained in Dave's peerless insert notes.

As well as talking the talk, Dave also plays guitar, melodeon and five?string banjo and sings, most notably on the riveting eight-and-a-half minutes of 'Willie's Ghost'. Pete Cooper is rightly described in the press release as "one of the very few fiddle players who can play convincingly in different styles", an ability displayed in spades as the band transform the British 6/8 jig 'New Rigged Ship' into the staple Virginia reel 'Green Willis' (though Dave changing melodeon for banjo helps the process no end). Pete also sings 'The Lakes Of Pontchartrain', a prodigious Pond-crosser if ever there was one. Chris plays sensational guitar, and his solo song 'Footprints In The Snow' is another well-travelled gem.

They do the classic string-band line-up of guitar, fiddle, banjo and voices so well that I don't want them to do anything else, but I realise that my taste for "old, weird America" is a minority within a minority. Stovepipe's treatment of the British material is undoubtedly classy, and it makes a good wooden horse to advance the cause of Old?Time American music...