Vulcan's Hammer

True Hearts and Sound Bottoms

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Privately pressed on the Brown label in 1973 in a limited edition of 250 copies, this English folk album was incredibly scarce before its 2006 CD reissue. Though that CD reissue appeared on a label, Radioactive, that usually targets rock collectors, this isn't a folk-rock record, though it has some of the elements of the more traditional wing of early-'70s British folk-rock. Instead, it's kind of like hearing a band such as Steeleye Span, but without any rock influences. The stern yet moving vocal harmonies are there, often in the male-female vocal blend typical of both folk-rock and traditional groups indebted to the U.K. folk tradition. The instrumentation is based around acoustic guitar and fiddle, the singing is sometimes a cappella, and the material is very traditional in nature. Unfortunately, the packaging on both the original LP and the CD reissue (assuming the CD reissue simply reproduces the original artwork) makes it not only impossible to ascertain if all the songs are traditional in origin, but doesn't even list the titles of the individual tracks. If you're willing to put up a certain level of mystery, however, it's a nicely done traditional folk album, though with the slightly ragged feel (in both performance and fidelity) typical of private releases. It's most effective when venturing into slightly downcast minor-keyed tunes, though the group doesn't have the sort of individual interpretive spark that would put them on the same footing as the best artists in the genre.

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