Richard Grainger Flossie Malavialle,Ron Angel,Steve Dawes, Helen Pitt, Joy Rennie,Moira Clarke,Tricia Lucas
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DataReleased June 2004
N of discs 1
Edition date June 2004
ReviewThe Album of the Month, November, takes us right back to North Yorkshire and Teesside roots. This area, notable for music coming out of rock, R&B, and blues (Chris Rea, Dave Coverdale, Ron Aspery, Paul Rogers etc) has always had a strong tradition in "folk" music, consolidated over centuries. The Watersons, Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy, Vin Garbutt have achieved considerable international reputations - Richard Grainger's new album is one to add to the 'essential' collection.
"On Heather & Clarty Moor" mixes Richard's own work with his arrangements of traditional tunes, and one from Middlesbrough's Graeme Miles, writer, since the early 50's, of literally hundreds of songs documenting and celebrating life in Cleveland. Apart from strong vocal and guitar performances from Richard there's a load of musicians and singers taking part including John and Joy Rennie (Vocal and keyboard), Moira Clarke (Melodeon), Flossie Mallaviale (Vocal) Steve Dawes (Mandolin& Vocal) Ron Angel (Vocal,Whistle and Harmonica) Andy Monaghan (Vocal) Rachel Thompson (Vocal) Tricia Lucas (Fiddle) and The Wilson Family (Vocals).
Of the traditional songs, Richard's arrangement of 'The Lyke Wake Dirge', perhaps the oldest example of Cleveland dialect verse in existence, is one of the most effective. Chilling in it's execution and finality. The Wake is the watch over the corpse, the Lyke is the corpse itself. (It's after this song that Bill Cowley named the famous 'Lyke Wake Walk' a forty mile trek over the breadth of the North York Moors which passes through many of the ancient burial grounds clearly evident on the moor tops and alongside pathways - evidence that the North York Moors were amongst the first areas to be settled in the British Isles). In contrast is 'Willie went to Westerdale' - a humorous call and response song typical of those handed down through fireside and moorland inn celebrations over generations. "We have made certain amendments to the words so as not to offend the more tender listener" (sleeve notes). These songs are both presented acapella, as are some of the others on this album.
The standard of musicianship throughout is high level, from Richard's excellent open-tuned guitar treatment of the currently resonant 'Foxhunting Song' to the ensemble sword dance tune 'Lass O'Dalogill'. (It's great to hear Ron Angel of the famed Teesside Fettlers in such good form - Ron gave me and Dave Pope - blues duo - our first gig: at Stockton Folk Club around 1963). Of Richard's own songs the brooding 'Darklands' uses minimal instrumentation and atmospheric choral work to great effect. 'Come along By' (written originally for Middlesbrough Museums project 'Town inTime' - late nineties) and 'The Iron Miner's Testimonial' (written during the making of this album) both document rural and industrial change, 'Teesside and Yorkshire' is a personal and heartfelt celebration of the region. Though the album is a sincere evocation of affection, Richard's work is not bogged down by clarty over-seriousness. There's easy light and shade here - a feel of uplifting celebration and a significant contribution to the music (all styles) currently being created in this neck of the woods. "Heather & Clarty Moor" is no po-faced eulogy to times gone by - it's part of a continuum.
The accompanying booklet is exceptionally well presented and informative, providing background details to the 14 songs on the album, describing their history and their making. And there's a very good photograph of Rosedale on the cover!
This album is available from record shops in the area and mail order (£14.99) from Klondike Records, The Old Post Office, Commondale, Whitby, YO21 2HG Further details: www.richardgrainger.co.uk e-mail: ri