All Fired Up
Firebird Records FBR 005
1.Five very experienced and talented musicians play music suitable for English social dancing. No gimmicks, nothing flashy, just straight ahead dance music played by people who have been around, know their business and play with an empathy developed over years of playing together and sounding really happy.
Ruardean Sword Bearer's Tune / Getting Upstairs / 29th of May (24 bar polkas); 2. Shepherd Boy's March / Sheffield Hornpipe / The High Tea (hornpipes) ; 3. Blue Morning / Madeleine's Waltz / Larry's Waltz (waltzes); 4. Reunion Jig / Sarah's Jig / Fox & Geese (jigs); 5. Alexandra Park / Mount Hills / Ganglåt från Mockförd (hornpipes); 6. Nantwich Fair / Enfield Wash / Spirit of the Dance (jigs); 7. Pearl O'Shaughnessy's Barndance (banrndance); 8. Neil Taylor's Jig / Ann and Albert's Silver Wedding / Gallowglass Rant (jigs); 9. Tanner Man / Kentish Cricketers / Tip Top Hornpipe (polkas); 10. Lang Johnny Moir / Old Man Quinn / Horse Keane's Hornpipe (hornpipes); 11. Success to the Campaign / The Squall / Royal Burlesque (reels); 12. Snowy Monday / Giga Ferrarese / My Darling Asleep (jigs); 13. Laddie wi' the Plaidie / Will Atkinson's Schottische (24 bar schottisches); 14. King Columb's Sword / The Little Diamond / Hunt the Squirrel (polkas); 15. Mike's (Untitled) Barndance / Dances at Kinvarra (barndances).
The approach of four varied melody instruments playing in unison with one in an accompanying role used to be the norm with dance bands, but this has changed in recent years towards bands trying to be more adventurous, sometimes too clever for their own good and forgetting that they have a primary function. This makes the approach by Phoenix sound all the more refreshing.
This second album still features two fiddles, harmonica and melodeon with piano accompaniment though there has been one change since the previous album with Steve Harrison replacing Martin Brinsford. Steve is based in West Yorkshire as is one of the fiddlers, Mike Pinder, with the other three based in Gloucestershire – Rod Stradling, Fran Wade and Kevin Bown – giving the band bases in both north and south.
They say that they are playing 'a few less-than-well-known tunes' and these include some neglected tunes rescued from old manuscript sources. Many of these deserve to be better known and it may be because it is played by this band that Spirit Of The Dance from the Hardy manuscripts seems to be enjoying a renewed popularity as a session tune. Other tunes come from America, Belgium, Ireland, Scotland and Italy, but like traditional players from all over the world do, they take the tunes and adapt them to make them serviceable for their own purposes.
I’ve worked as caller with them at a festival and can report that they are a delight to work with and their exhilarating playing really got the dancers on their feet. www.firebirdrecords.co.uk
Vic Smith - 7.9.16