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Mike Greenwood of Taplas

reviews One Man Hand by Tony Hall

"THAT CD players making a funny noise," said my partner, when this album started playing.

She doesn't know Tony Hall. Some years ago, he was toting a bright, dry?tuned Italian melodeon that never suited his downhome East Anglian ethos, so it's pleasing that he's returned to the two?row Hohner. But along with the warmer sound, you do get a liberal dose of "funny noise" in the form of percussive fingerboard click?clacks and the occasional bellows wheeze. Clearly producer Doug Bailey was instructed to leave everything in and the sleeve notes exclaim pride in every track being a one?off and completely undoctored.

Coming hard on the heels of Free Reed's reissue of his 1977 debut, this is, I think, the follow?up to his 1995 second release Mr Universe. So we're not dealing with the most prolific recorder, but you do get over an hour's worth of song and tune sets to make the wait worthwhile.

The Abbotts Bromley Horn Dance, greatly suited to Tony's style, opens a true miscellany, ranging from traditional English jigs, Texan rags with a dash of Hollywood musical and a handful of his own songs. Among these, Down on the Hard and Binder Twyne exude a peculiar homespun charm that's hard to ignore.