Shuffleathon 2007. Part 1.

 I thought I would write a bit about my choices for the Swiss Toni’s Shuffleathon cd I prepared for Joe in Vegas.

 Track 1 Bellowhead – Jordan

I love Bellowhead. They are possibly one of the best live acts I have ever seen. When I saw them as the headlining act on a festival Sunday night in the late summer this year they created an atmosphere which came the closest to approaching the incredible communal  high of a Blackburn warehouse rave circa 1990 in 15 years. I tell you I was buzzing. It was permanent hairs on the back of the neck time and the whole experience just resonated. And it wasn’t down to inebriation as I had only had three or four pints of fine English ale thank you very much.  Bellowhead did this by creating a loud layer of bastardised traditional English folk music using large chunks of music hall, disco, world music and an expansive horn section as well as the usual traditional instruments. Obviously one of the reasons why it was so good was the enthusiasm of the crowd who were completely up for it. I don’t go to many gigs these days but the front of the crowd at your most feverish loud indie rock gig had nothing on this lot. They were loving it. Mad for it. Pogoing like there was no tomorrow. It looked well sweaty. And Benji Kirkpatrick is the bounciest bouzouki player I have ever seen. He makes Tigger look like a total amateur. He plays his instruments like a thing possessed as well. And (it sort of goes without saying) the whole band are clearly excellent musicians.  In short, go and see them in a large venue when they are headlining, where there will be a large contingent of Bellowhead followers and you will have a good night out.

Their first ep from 2005 was great but doesn’t approach the wonderful 2006 album Burlesque which was a mix of different styles, turning traditional tunes into high octane horn clad morris tunes, orchestral ballads, music hall melodrama, shouty singalongs and Middle Eastern influenced song stories. Its a great great album. It may upset some folk purists (and the people I attended the above gig with were far from impressed – “Too much going on” was their verdict ) but I think it works wonderfully and it does take traditional folk in new and interesting directions. They seem to function on two levels – their recorded output is definitely good for listening to – clearly demostrates the musicianship and allows full appreciation of the arrangements, but live is the real deal – ultimately they are a dance band and they DO make you want to dance. Madly.

Jordan is one of the aforementioned shouty singalongs and originates from the American minstrel movement. One reviewer describes it as a “thunderous, apocalyptic marvel” which is fairly spot on. Try seeing them play it live and not singing along.  Here they are on Jools Holland doing it.

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2 Responses to “Shuffleathon 2007. Part 1.”

  1. sarah Says:

    I like it…

    Look what you’ve done – you’re converting me to the diddley-dee side 😉

  2. thegreatgrapeape Says:

    !!! A reader !!!

    Hello Sarah and welcome to the Apehouse.

    Good god woman – what have I done ? – you will be asking to borrow my Fred Jordan vinyl next.

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