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DaiJeffries of R2

reviews Past and Present by Roger Watson

It's been more than twenty years since Roger Watson's name last appeared on an LP sleeve and nearly thirty since he made a solo album. Not that he's been idle, of course, but as he hovers around retirement age he's back on the frontline.

First comes 'Gilliver', co-written with Coin Cater In 1965 and a long-time staple of his live set. If you have heard it before, you're probably a folk historian but Past And Present is far from being an exercise in nostalgia. Roger's work as a teacher has been based on bringing traditional songs to a new generation, often by rewriting them in modern language or giving them a contemporary setting.

Thus, the thwarted lothario of 'Lovely Joan' drives an XR?3 and the broken-hearted hero of the exquisitely sensitive 'Peg Of Derby' used to work in the Rolls-Royce factory. 'Lowlands' doesn't quite work for me although I understand the inspiration and, to demonstrate that songwriters have always weaved together old and new, here's Bob Pegg's 'Rip Van Winkle'.

In between the songs are tune sets from a variety of sources, including a splendid pair of polkas, and Roger is supported unobtrusively by the voice and viola of Jackie Oates, and Tim Walker's brass, voice and drum.