Derek Gifford of Folk Northwest
reviews One Man Hand by Tony HallMention the word melodeon to most people and you will get a whole spectrum of reactions from abject horror to comfortable familiarity. In the case of Tony Hall you are quite likely to raise a knowing smile for Tony is one of our finest and foremost exponents of that much maligned instrument. This album is an eclectic collection of tunes and songs which defies the supposed limitations of two-row Hohner melodeons which, incidentally, is also the only type of melodeon that Tony has played for the last 50 odd years.
There is no over dubbing on this recording so you get all the clicks of the buttons reflecting the age of the instruments played and, quite rightly in my opinion, a more authentic sound. However, some folk might not agree and find the clicks a distraction.
Among the tunes there are some classics like The Abbott's Bromley Horn Dance, The Flowers of Manchester (that's the Morris tune - nothing to do with Geoff Higginbottom's classic) and Jimmy Shand's Rocky Mountain Tune which is followed by the tune of the song from the film 7 Brides for 7 Brothers called Bless Your Beautiful Hide! Like I said earlier this is an eclectic collection!
Tony hails from Norfolk and his gentle, laid back approach to his singing is evidence of his pedigree and experience.
The songs are equally esoteric and include four written by Tony the most unusual of which is Binder Twyne; who else could write about this subject I wonder? According to Tony the most boring song he's ever written is The Enigma of the Southwold Tide which reminds me of the description of English cricket (you know the one about one side being 'in' and the other 'out' then the sides that's 'out' goes 'in' etc., etc.) and leaves you in no doubt that the Southwold tide goes in and out! Funny it is, boring it's not Tony!
Equally amusing is The Haddock Song a tribute to the Norfolk's smoke houses. Well the title says it all really! Don't be misled either by the title of the Irish Kitty the Handsome Cat which is a love song about a woman not a cat.. well... I think so anyway! He also bravely tackles David Margolick's Strange Fruit immortalised by Billy Holiday and given an original slant through Tony's Norfolk accent. As he says 'A Norfolk bloke shouldn't do it - but I did.' 'And why not?' I say too!
So why not treat yourself to this unique and entertaining album available from Wild Goose or through Proper Music Distribution - see their web sites.