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reviews Parallel Strands by Martin Graebe & Shan Cowan

This CD from the leading expert on Sabine Baring?Gould features a mixture of songs from the B.G, collection and some of Graebes own songs, two of which have already become classics. (`Jack in the Green and `From Severn, by the Somme). Mostly he is in duet with Shan Cowan and their voices blend beautifully, as is evident from the very first song, `Lavender Green. Instrumental colour is provided by the mandola of Jeff Gillett, Keith Kendrick on anglo?concertina, Paul Burgess on fiddle and Paul Wilson on accordion. In his own songs, like Stonecracker John, Graebe performs with the passion and conviction one would expect of someone putting his own work over but a lot of the interest of this CD lies in the fact that many of the B?G songs are recorded here for the first time. These feature some currently unfashionable encomiums e.g. In praise of `Tobacco, returned as close to the 17th century original as possible, and `Sir Reynard (hunt, anyone?). One interesting oddity is a very strange and unresolved version of Randal collected from a Miss Adams of Plymouth and called Jacky my Son ? Graebe hints delicately in the notes that B?G might just have written the tune down wrong since his version differs so radically from Sharps. Cheer is provided by a joyous massed version of the Cornish carol `Rouse, rouse and the annotation to `I had two ships, which, according to John Woodrich was sung by a woman...she was so drunk that she couldnt sing more than these two verses (I think most of us have been there... ) in sum, a fascinating and accomplished CD worthy of a place on any serious collectors shelf.