Colin Andrews of Whats Afoot
reviews Generosity by Various Artists - Folk for MSThis album, featuring 20 tracks donated by a wealth of talented and prominent folk artists, celebrated twenty years of Folk for M.S. All the profits from this album will go to this charity support of Multiple Sclerosis.
The problem with any composite album offering only one track from different performers is that one may already have the full album of those artists one particularly enjoys, be uninterested in those one dislikes and perhaps unwilling to sample the few singers that one may not have come across. I would urge folk club followers, however, to take a wider view and sample the rich variety of material offered on this CD.
Variety there certainly is, and the selection of tracks is taken from releases probably spanning at least the full twenty years of the charity's existence. Veteran (in the kindest sense of the word) performers such as Dave Burland and Barry Dransfield rub shoulders with the talented young Askew Sisters. Actually selecting a representative and appropriate track from the huge choice available must in itself have been a difficult task, since the disc doesn't appear to have a specific theme, but still achieves a good balance of serious versus light-hearted subject matter, traditional versus contemporary sources. In the latter category, the opening track, Taking On Men, is an excellent example of Jez Lowe's craft, with good lyrics and imaginative tune to match. For the traditionalists, Pete Coe gives an unusual version of An Acre of Land, with haunting melodic accompaniment. Tom & Barbara Brown, with Soap Starch Candles, and Cosmotheka's Proper Cup of Coffee raise a smile, while Jarrow Song, from Cockersdale, and New Frontier from Roy Bailey & John Kirkpatrick give more food for thought.
The Wilsons, with appropriately the final track, Parting Glass, were the only group with which I was totally unfamiliar, but it was good to listen to William Pint & Felicia Dale, and Dave Webber & Anni Fentiman who lived up to their reputation of which I'd heard. Harvey Andrews, Johnny Coppin, Huw & Tony Williams are all artists I can't recall having seen live, but they too all come over well with modern material. I'd reviewed Mike Nicholson's album, Stone by Stone, the title song of which he offers here, some time ago, and Gilliver is on the new album by Roger Watson reviewed elsewhere in this issue.
Who have I not yet mentioned? Only Vin Garbutt, another veteran of the folk scene, Tanglefoot, who have appeared at many festivals, and Artisan whose close harmony is a delight whether on traditional material, or as here, with What's The Use of Wings.
Have your own mini-folk festival and support a most worthy cause by purchasing a copy of this album. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.