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Dai Woosnam of Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews

reviews Both Shine as One by Ron Taylor & Jeff Gillett

Ron and Jeff are two well-established names on the English Folk scene, especially in the Cotswolds area of Gloucestershire.This is their third album together, but their first for the prestigious WildGoose label. It is an album that makes few concessions to the M.O.R. Folkie. It contains about it, more than a whiff of the library at Cecil Sharp House.  

That is to say that the album exudes earnestness and quality.

Early on in the album, whilst not delivering any song I was totally unfamiliar with, it is fair to say that there seems a (sub?)conscious attempt to avoid the Hundred Greatest Hits From The Folk Tradition! Oh sure Seven Little Gypsies, Adieu, John Barleycorn and Jack Caundle are hardly from Folks deleted back catalogue! But by the same token, they are not those songs that the person who attends a folk club a handful of times a year, would be word-perfect on.

By track 9 however, I think that perhaps the duo had decided that maybe the potential CD buyer  when scanning the track list on the back cover  had better recognise some of the tracks pronto! And then goes into greatest hits mode, and comes up with Rocking The Cradle, Thomas The Rhymer, John Barleycorn (if I hear that song just ONCE again, it will turn me to drink!) and Kind Friends and Companions (a version nearer melodically to Vin Garbutts than The Voice Squads).

They do a very good version of absolutely everything (yes, even my bte noire of a song, just mentioned!) and Rons vocals never fail to persuade: mind you, with a talented multi-instrumentalist the quality of Jeff Gillett, I reckon that it would not even be beyond even ME to embark on a solo album. How I just LOVED his consummate work throughout, especially his truly sublime guitar accompaniment on Ferryland Sealer. And his vocal harmony on All Among The Barley. And lead vocalist Ron is every bit his match. No duff notes. This man Taylor never meets a duff note, not even by appointment.

Together, they deliver. And now, one special final word on the liner notes. When I opened the booklet, I could not believe my EYES when I read the opening section. It is headed Our Approach to the Songs.They then set out their raison d tre when it comes to choosing the songs they do, and then follow by describing their modus operandi. Gentlemen, I salute you both! This should be absolutely COMPULSORY with all CDs. Lets have no more cop-outs in printing out lyrics.  And anyway, when a singer sings with such magnificent diction as Taylor does here, then the printing of such lyrics is a superfluous act.

There is nothing REMOTELY superfluous here. Not even track 12 (which as I say, they do very well indeed, and hey, there may be a 13 year old out there who has never heard it and is about to embark on his first can of cider in the alley behind the Spar shop, so I must not knock it!) Re the two John Barleycorns: one little trick they may have missed though, was in not placing them next to each other. Juxtaposing them. Indeed, perhaps letting them segue into each other. Ah! But we can ALL pick our own batting order for the England cricket team!

This album is definitely worth a buy, but that said, do not spend money on it that you have earmarked for spending on food.