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Paul Burgess of The Living Tradition

reviews One Man Hand by Tony Hall

Tony Hall is one of the most amazing two-row melodeon players I've ever heard. A sort of melodeon Bix Beiderbecke, he taught himself the instrument at a time when it was almost unknown on the folk scene, and consequently learned ways of performing things that normally would be dismissed as "too difficult" or "not possible". He also has a wider view on music than many - music from the tradition, films and TV all feature in his repertoire, for no worse reason than that they are damn good tunes. He is a fantastic accompanist: I remember Will Atkinson playing a slow-air on the mouthorgan once, and Tony Hall accompanying him perfectly on two-row (and there's precious few could have managed that) whilst his contribution to Nic Jones's "Penguin Eggs" was a major element in the success of some of the songs.

This is his third solo album and possibly his best so far, with a super selection of varied material and beautiful playing. I was very pleased to see that several of his quirky humorous songs have been included, such as the wonderful Haddock Song, with a "middle 8" that Milligan would have been proud of. The only thing I would say is that the CD should come with a health warning - trying to imitate the deceptively beautiful and easy sounding performances here may lead to dislocated fingers!