The main thing about this collection of John Kirkpatrick's works isn't that it shows his already well-known prowess as the best accordion player in English folk music. It's that he's a remarkable singer of songs, whether on the well-known "Oakham Poachers" or Bill Caddick's excellent "Old Man Jones," about a street person. On the surface his voice might not seem immediately appealing, but it was a winning power, and he can get to the heart of a song -- especially those that have a more jovial, music hall edge to the tunes, like "The Watercress Girl." Still, he's equally adept on "Jim Jones," a tale of Australian convicts, and his own "Black Deer." In fact, he's undervalued as a writer and arranger. "George's Son," written for a theater production, shows great ingenuity in its combination of instruments, as does his arrangement of the traditional "Waterman's Dance." But that's what you'd expect from one of those in Brass Monkey, a group that flouted folk convention with its use of brass, and made splendid music in a very English tradition. And, make no mistake, tradition runs right through everything Kirkpatrick does. For many, many years he's been involved in Morris' music, and that side comes out often, not just in big Morris tunes like "Maid of the Hill/Cuckoo's Nest/William & Nancy," but also dances like "The Buffoon/The Fool's Jig." Drawn from eight albums Kirkpatrick was involved in that appeared on the Topic label (just a fraction of the more than 100 records he's appeared on since 1969), it might not exactly qualify as A Short History, but it's certainly a representative selection of the broad range of Kirkpatrick's talents, both instrumental and vocal.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson