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KR of Sing Out

reviews Toadstone by Random

While the likes of Eliza Carthy, Kate  Rusby, Jim Moray, Spiers and Boden, and the rest of the English folk scenes sparkly next generation are grabbing a lot of publicity and attention, steadily pottering away in the background is a slew of bands playing for barn dances or ceilidhs. On almost any evening somewhere in England revelers can be found jumping and hopping to the jolly sounds of accordion, melodeon and fiddle. While some of these dance bands survive happily just playing for live dancers, others want to see how theyd do in a recording studio.

Led by Saul Rose (melodeon), who has played with Eliza Carthy, the sextet Ran dom falls slightly on the progressive side of the English dance band continuum. Theyve got a double melodeon front line which handles all of the melody playing, electric guitar, electric bass guitar and drums. The trombone plays harmony parts with the bass or melodeons, or plays its own bass phrases. No fiddle!! But other than that, nothing particularly unusual.
Anyone familiar with the likes of Ashley Hutchings Albion Dance Band and Morris On recordings will recognize the basic sound.

Most of the tunes on Toadstone are traditional, but there are several compositions by co?melodeonist Paul Nye. These arent very different from the traditional pieces. The only piece that is a bit radical is the two?tune medley Captain Courageous/Ice House Schottische No. ?. Those pieces were written by Blowzabellas hurdy gurdy master Nigel Eaton and have more complicated melody lines. And the band gives that medley a slightly more modern rhythm groove. The only other surprise here is Horses Branle, a 16th century Breton tune which was first popularized in England by The Albion Dance Band.