Dave Sutherland of Tatters (newsletter of Traditions at the Tiger)
reviews Beyond the quay by Tom & Barbara BrownTom and Barbara Brown, no strangers to Traditions at the Tiger (T.A.T.T.), are these days as well known around the Village Halls of Great Britain, where they perform their popular themed evenings, as they are in the country’s folk clubs. Therefore it is fitting that their latest album, their fourth, is also a themed collection and, as the title suggests, the theme is a nautical one.
Beyond the Quay is made up of sixteen tracks and not a shanty among them as the liner notes affirm; some songs like The Bold Princess Royal, Tarry Trousers, The Ship in Distress and The Death of Nelson are well enough known around the clubs but there are others such as The Watchet Sailor, The Spirits of George’s Bank, Bonnie Sailor Laddie and Young Susan which may not be so familiar.
It is doubtful that The Browns could put an album of this type together without including a number of pieces from their native West Country and here we have a local version of The Herring’s Head, a set of salty parodies and comic rhymes and a cracking working of Tom’s own Padstow Bar To Lundy Light coupled with his arrangement of Wreck of the Montagu. Barbara’s rendition of the former is the song of the album for me, and a must for anyone who has spent time in Cornwall, for if this does not evoke memories then nothing will.
There is a freshness about all the songs contained on the album, never more so than on The Bold Princess Royal, a song that I have heard countless times, but on this hearing I am forced to re-assess this tale for the second time in forty odd years as more enlightenment emerges.
This is a worthy effort from Tom and Barbara Brown who are ably assisted by Emily and Hazel Askew, and our own Keith Kendrick and hopefully it will receive the widespread hearing that it deserves.
One final note on the songs, there is the glorious chorus song Firing the Mauritania from the pen of the late Redd Sullivan and written from personal experience. Not the sort of thing that you’ll find on your average CD.