Derek Gifford of Folk Northwest
reviews The Food of Love by Belshazzar's FeastPaul Sartin and Paul Hutchinson are well known on the folk circuit in their 'other lives' with Bellowhead and Faustus respectively. When they get together as a duo even more sparks fly!
Looking at the sumptuous cover photos (taken at The White Hart, Whitchurch - which looks a really nice place!) and sleeve notes of this double CD offering from these two gentlemen one might be forgiven if you detect a little pretentiousness; arrogance even.... 'Sit back, relax and let your taste buds be aroused by this gourmet menu brought to you by Head Chef Paul Sartin (violin, oboe and vocals) and Sous Chef Paul Hutchinson (accordion)'...... but, of course, it's all done with the tongue firmly in the cheek!
So, to the main course where you'll find much to whet your appetite (yes, I'm continuing the gourmet theme!) including songs like Twenty, Eighteen and the salutory warning Be Careful in Choosing A Wife and, wait for it, Mark Knofler's theme music and song from the film Cal! The song is sympathetically performed and the combination of oboe and accordion make this one of the most atmospheric and memorable tracks. Delicious!
The combination of mixing a song and a tune on many of the tracks works well throughout but especially with the Begging Song and Bacca Pipes Jig which flow seemlessly from one to the other. The tunes are all well performed, of course, but I felt they let themselves down with Music for a Found Harmonium the arrangement of which I found unappetising probably because I've been spoiled by the version from our own local lad Chris Harvey!
Now on to the 2nd disc, the 'Complimentary Appetiser' which is a live album recorded at the White Lion, Wherwell. After the witty introduction they kick off with two waltzes followed by two lively jigs which are 'interrupted' by a misunderstanding as to which tune came next! Their sheer professionalism comes across here as they sort out the problem in milliseconds and then carry on playing as if nothing had happened!
The varied nature of their repertoire is well illustrated when the Swanee whistle turns up on Ebenezer. Doug Bailey's first ever recording of a Swanee whistle I might add!
Add the riduculous Goliath of Gath, a couple of Welsh tunes and the unlikely (on a folk album!) Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Vivaldi's Spring from The Four Seasons and you get the picture.. these two are remarkable cooks... er.. I mean, performers!
All in all a veritable feast of good music - tuck in!