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Ken Hinchliffe of Whats Afoot

reviews Past and Present by Roger Watson

I personally, have considerable regard for Roger Watson, both as a singer and a musician of great originality. And this CD `Past and Present' is a perfect example of why I admire his creative ability.

I thoroughly enjoyed this CD from the first note to the last. There are fourteen tracks on the CD, comprising eleven tunes and six songs. And every one a good'un. Though on reflection, I did have initial reservations regarding the tempo of the concluding song `Seafarers'. Nevertheless, after a couple of hearings I accepted that perhaps the tempo was in keeping with the subject matter, i.e. sombre.

Of the eleven tunes, my favourites are, Linnen Hall / The Fanocini, The Gobby O, and Fred Pigeon's Polka / Donkey Riding, all of which are played as relaxed and free flowing as you're ever likely to hear, with ornamentation/improvisation of the highest quality ? beautiful, almost therapeutic. For sure, this is a CD to inspire both budding and experienced melodeon players.

The lyrics to the songs, Gilliver Lovely Joan, Peg of Derby, Lowlands, and The Manager 's Daughter, are all the creation of Roger Watson. In particular respect of Lovely Joan and Peg of Derby, here the imaginative rewriting and revisiting of a traditional song into a modem setting gives authenticity to a traditional theme. And interestingly, has made me reconsider the words of the traditional versions of the songs.

It would be extremely remiss of me not to make a point of mentioning the very important input into the recording by the two supporting artists, Jackie Oates, (Voice and 5?stringed Viola) and Tim Walker ( Flugelhorn, Cornet, Voice, and Side drum). The inclusion of the flugelhorns warm, pastel tonal colour into the arrangements is inspirational. Both Jackie and Tim bring a wider, fuller dimension to the whole recording. I suppose their presence and contribution, is the proverbial `cherry on the cake'.

I highly recommend this CD to all traditionalists and others.