I’m always on the lookout for some good music and a good friend of mine introduced me to Oysterband many moons ago.
They had just released their album Shouting End Of Life and this album was a compilation of the best moments of the albums they had released up to the release of Shouting..
The Oysterband had taken a few incarnations up to the point of the Holy Bandits album in 1993 but now had a settled line up of John Jones on vocals, Ian Telfer on fiddle, Alan Prosser on Guitars, Lee Partis on drums and Ray ‘Chopper’ Copper on bass.
They had built their following by releasing albums with a mix of traditional and self-penned songs which portrayed a keen eye on the political scene and a unique ability to switch from rousing anthems to quiet and contemplative observations.
The album kicks off with the old English song Hal An Tow.
Take no scorn to wear the horn
It was the crest when you was born
Your father's father wore it
And your father wore it too
Chorus (after each verse):
Hal-an-tow, jolly rumbalow
We were up long before the day-O
To welcome in the summer,
To welcome in the May-O
The summer is a-coming in
And winter's gone away-O
What happened to the Spaniards
That made so great a boast-O?
Why they shall eat the feathered goose
And we shall eat the roast-O
Robin Hood and Little John
Have both gone to the fair-O
And we will to the merry green wood
To hunt the buck and hare-O
God bless Aunt Mary Moyses
And all her power and might-O
And send us peace to England
Send peace by day and night-O
Not all of the songs are this old though. Oysterband had written some great songs up to the album including Oxford Girl.
It is quite a varied album and showcases the band’s excellent musicianship. Their live performances around this time were the stuff of legend. They went on for ages and had the crowd bouncing around.
The song Blood wedding is the Wedding song to end all Wedding songs J
They’ve calmed down a bit since then.
Following Trawler, they went on to produce some fine albums including Rise Above, Here I Stand and Meet You There.
In 2011, the band teamed up once again with June Tabor to release an album called Ragged Kingdom. This was a huge hit in folk circles and led to them receiving several awards including Folk Album of The Year.
This year saw Ray Cooper decide to leave the band. I was lucky enough to be at his last gig with the band in Treorci and get to meet him after and shake his hand and wish him farewell. With one album under his belt, he is now working on his second.
With a new album Diamonds On The Water due out in February 2014 and a new tour to support it, the Oysterband story continues. If you get a chance to see them live, just go. You'll be seeing one of the best live acts in the UK.
Twitter - @oysterband1