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MAY 03 - Tykes News (Yorkshire) "The Silverlode"

Tom Napper plays mandolins, tenor banjo and guitar. Tom Bliss plays mandocello, guitar and 5 string tenor fiddle. Extra accompaniment is by Tom McConville on The Violin (sic). The CD was produced by Phil SneII (who probably lied about his first name). TB & TN both sing lead on various tracks, TN having the darker voice and TB inhabiting the lower tenor regions. Tom N sings lead on one of the six Bliss compositions here ... no egos then. They have chosen to record in a ‘live' manner. I take it that this means no separate tracks, one take, all or nothing sort of thing. It seems to have worked. There is an immediacy and an intimate feel to this CD.

The Silverlode Of Sark is the eponymous and first track, a great shop window for the writing/singing talents of Tom Bliss and the singing/instrumental talents of Tom Napper. Talent is here in abundance but more importantly the voices and styles do meld well and this is their first CD together. Good omens. Newry Town is the first trad song on the album and is of the Adieu, Adieu/A Wild and a Wicked Youth type of Broadside. Played in a sprightly manner that belies its dark subject it has been one of my favourite songs since I first heard it in the early sixties sung by a duo called (I think) Celtic Fringe. This is a nicely sung version with a feeling of sympathy for the unfortunate felon. 'The Blue Cockade?’ Well, OK then, as a chap brought up with the white variety I was keen to find out the difference. It turns out there isn't one really Apart from the price. When I were a lad it cost the Army a shilling 'from the Crown' to condemn you to a gory death. In this colour way it costs ‘two guineas and a crown' for the WD to own you. And I thought Blair's Boys had inflation under control.

It must be a fine thing to start your life accompanied by a song written only for you. To have a songwriter spend time and talent on only you. ‘Turn and Face the Wind' is one just so. Written by Tom Bliss for Sacha Fu Fen Quayle's naming ceremony on Alderney. Wonderful sentiments to hang onto as your life's journey begins, I'm very jealous. ‘Miss Hamilton' has affected me like no other tune has recently. Maybe I'm so jaded by the proliferation of perfectly rendered Celtic music that I needed something extra in the emotional stakes to move me. It is the only tune accredited to Cornelius Lyons, Harper to the Earl of Antrim and friend of Turlough O'Carolan, and is one of those stately tunes of deceptive simplicity that can tear into one's protective shell of cynicism and end up dominating an album. As I play this CD over again I'll know, deep down. that it's for this track and no other. Your mileage may differ but it's worth the journey.

Jim Ellison Tykes News

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