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Paul Davis of The Folk Mag

reviews Toadstone by Random

When I was given the CD by Random to review which had the tag ‘electric ceilidh music with guts’, I had serious doubts about the concept of trying to bottle such a vibrant band as Random and maintain a steady interest without being bored. Why would I want a CD to which I’d really want to leap around, but which requires a live band to give atmosphere? I was certainly sceptical! However, what they have here is a good blend between various well known dance tunes, some virtuosity, and plenty of sustained interest.
Random comprise Paul Nye (melodeon& harmonica), Roger Smith (drums), Ian Woledge (guitar), Keith Holloway (bass guitar), Glynn Burch (trombone) and Saul Rose (melodeon and guitar cameo). Certainly a few well known names in the mix, and a number can often be found out with Chiltern Hundreds so they know how to drive a beat.
The CD starts off with Mount Hills followed by Stingo and there’s lots of notes in there as Eric Morecambe once said, track 2 Mopping the Cedar seemed to drag towards the end and perhaps would have been a case of more is less.  Track 3 had a discordant harmonica appearing realistically like a train, while Waiting for a partner/ Twin sisters is one for fans of raspberry blowing trombonists. I heard the second tune and the worm in my head kept nagging me until I worked out it was the Upton upon Severn stick dance - but not quite as you know it. A really great ceilidh rhthym.
Tracks 6 and 7 showed off the virtuosity of Saul Rose and Paul Nye doing solo pieces - on Paul’s I thought “what a lot of notes” - I enjoyed Cruel Wars more than Tubeless and it really lifted off and made sense when the rest of the band kicked in. With that backing, all the twiddly bits came into their own and made sense.
Woodland Revels is very Flowers and Frolics influenced and suggested for Willow Tree which would be a great combination. Horses Branle is a well known trad tune which I’ve always thought of as being Belgium/French (maybe the title) but Random seem to take it away somewhere closer to Turkey and include a drum and trombone break.
The CD finishes off with a couple of Nigel Eaton tunes which would be great for soothing listening in a traffic jam. Then the CD kept going, and a bonus track kicked in after about 4 more minutes. I’m not sure if that was intended, but on my PC it shows the last track as being 13:34 comparison to the 5:37 quoted on the cover.
Overall, a very well balanced CD which gives plenty of happy listening, background music, leaping around, and generally one to lift you up. I’m a convert.