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Julian Goodacre and Friends [Mainly English bagpipes but also some Scottish & Leicestershire smallpipes]

Being a 'folkie' person and a concertina player myself, I was delighted to find so many Morris tunes      although some

interpretations were not quite what I was used to. The interpretations were imaginative and as a non-piper myself I enjoyed the mixture of pipes and other instruments. I especially liked the mixture of tunes - Monck's March and Black Jack.

I was rather taken aback by a spoken statement on track 6 about employing a 'reference drone', and also the sudden conversation during 'The Star Melody', although once I had read the notes it all became clear. As it was a live recording we can forgive the one or two 'unscheduled' notes - it must have been wonderful to be playing this with the moonlight on Vermont      I wish I'd been there.

I was also somewhat surprised by the strength of the bass drone on some of the tracks - 'The Blue Eyed Stranger' for one (which I know as 'The Mill, the Mill O'). Knowing the tune was also a disadvantage when the time differentials came out. I am happy with changes in tempo, and often welcome them, but a tune well known also seems out of balance when 'tampered' with in this fashion. This was also true for me of 'The Quaker's Wife' - sorry, a lovely tune, but I kept counting the bars and felt that the resolution was long.

I was delighted with 'The Winster Gallop' trio - as a concertina player myself, these were tunes I know well - and I loved the introduction of the Sousaphone; this made it, for me, a real 'session' track, reinforced by the "well done" shouted at the end.

If I had a real quibble about this CD it would be the track 'Over the Hills and Far Away'. I wasn't alone in feeling the penetrating pitch of a particular note - my budgerigar also vented his feelings on this one. I'm not sure what it was, but it was pervasive and made my ears ring. Thankfully it eased up for 'My Wife' which was a lovely bouncy tune but, as Julian himself stated, was '..generous with the bars'.

'Enrico' and 'Michael Turner's Waltz' are tunes I know well (although played on other instruments) and it was a real pleasure to hear a new and innovative interpretation of them both.

A couple of tunes were played more than once on this album which made me think the CD had slipped, but when I realised that they were different variations (indeed '..peerless duets') of the earlier versions and were tunes I loved anyway, it really didn't matter.

With a few minor irritations (who doesn't have them when a tune you know well is played slightly differently?) I can heartily commend this CD. Who else but

Julian could close his magnificent effort with the sound of a freight train? I loved this CD and it will be one that I'll play often, but for those not familiar with the English bagpipe do read the CD notes first

Available from:              Julian

Goodacre, 4 Elcho St, Peebles, EH45 8LQ priced £12

Sam Allen