Etchingham Steam Band

Etchingham Steam Band

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While the Etchingham Steam Band, an acoustic traditional folk band formed by Ashley Hutchings and his then-wife, Shirley Collins, never released an album during their existence, this mix of live and studio tracks gives a good idea of what they must have sounded like. The acoustic outlook was a response to the power cuts that were part of England in 1974-1975. But there's enough here to make you wish they'd recorded properly. The concertina-dominated band offers many moods, from the seasonal quiet of "The Sussex Carol" to the dancing joy of "Bonny Kate," in a set that veers away from the tried and true of folk standards -- only "Hard Times of Old England" and "Horn Fair" are really known. Collins is in lovely voice, as always, one of the great singers of English folk music, and she performs with gusto throughout, while the band is always subtle but storming behind her. They might have been just a back-to-basics blip in the history of English folk music, but they were well worth commemorating.

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