Salut! Reviews

For Bill read Belinda and listen to her Wonderful Fairytale: 'not very trad, but very me'

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Some years ago, I acclaimed the first album from Bill Jones - sorry to be namist about this but she signs messages with the much more appealing Belinda - and later criticised another.

I have felt rotten about it ever since; it was an honest judgement in each case but perhaps reviewers who actually like the art form they are considering should generally be happiest when able to praise, though it would be fair to wonder how many are. Now comes another album and I fell in love with it on first hearing.

Bill/Belinda and I have never met but we get along quite well electronically. Though she hails from Staffordshire, she has lived in Sunderland for most of her adult life - in itself a plus in my eyes, though I grew up 20 miles away - and has three sons, of whom one, (Dom) is, as he should be, Sunderland AFC-mad. Like me, he will be at Wembley for the League One playoff final on Sunday (May 26), when I should really be in France and he should be at his mum's gig in Chippenham.

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Dipping into the Past: Eddi Reader and Burns, bawdiness and romance

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November 2017 update: as I browse the extensive Salut! Live archive for gems from the past to share with a (slightly) expanding audience, live reviews are not obvious choices. I make an exception for Eddi Reader and this corker of a review, by my great friend Pete Sixsmith, of the night he saw her in Durham. Eddi is one of many outstanding artists who were initally and inexcusably omitted from my recent spot of fun with Best Females Singers.

Eddi herself tweeted various names to me: Annie Briggs, Sandy Denny, "the lassies Unthank", Liz Fraser, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Anita O’Day, Siobhan Miller, Amy Winehouse. "Joanna Carlin, also known as Melanie Harold, my personal folk hero", Rachel Sermanni, Bonnie Raitt, Judee Sill and Linda Ronstadt ("Stone Poneys era"). Sandy Denny and one of "the lassies Unthank", Rachel, did head my two main lists and I have also found room for Amy Winehouse (and, belatedly, Eddi). When I told Eddi I had fond memories of her appearance at the Union Chapel in North London - "one of the best gigs I have ever attended" - some years ago, her reply was a classic: "I'm better now."


So here, from Easter 2011, is Pete Sixsmith's review. It passes the test of time with flying colours ...


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The Waterboys' Steve Wickham: from legendary fiddling to dark French sisters of love

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Let me credit the CD's sleeve painting: Georgia Cox from Bath: visit her site

Steve Wickham: Beekeeper

After an utterly grim stream of news from home - from the London Bridge terrorist attack to the death of Vin Garbutt and now the appalling loss of life in the Grenfell Tower fire - it was as much a soothing relief as a joy to drive along the French Mediterranean coast and listen to Steve Wickham's album, Beekeeper.

This coastline knows its own trauma, of course. Nowhere is really safe from the threat of natural or unnatural disaster. Just for now, it feels peaceful and serene ahead of next month's invasion, one that transforms the population of my own little town from 6,000 to much more than 100,000.

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Geoff Lakeman: when folk rises above the dross of corporate pop

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Photo: Matt Austin

Geoff Lakeman entered my life 44 years ago. Newly moved down to London from the North East, I attended for the first time the excellent Herga folk club that John Heydon ran at the Royal Oak in Wealdstone.

At some stage once we became acquainted, I mentioned to Geoff that I was chief reporter of the local rag, the Harrow Observer, only for him to knock any misplaced pride out of me with his reply: "I'm in Fleet Street, at PA (the Press Association, the national news agency)."

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Cats on Trees, Sirens and une exception française


Every now and then,
I allow myself to stray from the tightly drawn waters of folk and folk offshoots and draw attention to something else that deserves a listen.

Since returning to France after London hibernation, I have found myself stopping to appreciate one song that keeps cropping up on the radio. Lots of changes in tempo, adorable female voice, great tune ... in short, a bloody good pop record.

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Cloé, Maya and the two sisters (Hilary James and Janet Giraudo): just saying this

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The car is a great vehicle
of parental indoctrination. Play your own music a few times without comment on long journeys and, soon, routine-loving children - if small enough - will ask for it again.

I remember my daughters wanting me to play a wonderful Box Fox and Stu Luckley album, Nowt So Good'll Pass, probably in cassette form, and especially liking (and getting the regional dialect) in A Begging I Will Go.

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