Reissued on CD almost 30 years after its original LP release, Spencer the Rover Is Alive and Well will be welcomed heartily by all lovers of traditional English song. The selections come from a variety of traditions: the title track was learned from the singing of the Copper Family, whose practice of harmony singing significantly predates the general use of elaborate vocal harmonies in British folksong; "What a Mouth!" and "Dahn the Plughole" are both relatively crude examples of Cockney music hall singing, while "Silicosis" is both a dialect song and an example of songs bemoaning exploitative working conditions that proliferated around the turn of the century. The strangest inclusion is also one of the most lovely: an early American hymn called "Babylon Is Fallen." Most of the songs are sung a cappella, though a few are accompanied by guitar, and in all cases the combination of Tony Barrand's clear tenor and John Roberts' vinegary baritone is an absolute delight. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson