Oh no! Not another folky Christmas album I hear you say, but when the band in question is the Albion Christmas Band, it couldn’t really be anything else!
Folk scene stalwarts Simon Nicol (acoustic guitar and vocals), Ashley Hutchings (bass guitar and vocals),Simon Care (melodeons) and Kellie While (acoustic guitar, vocals and percussion) tour annually with their unique take on seasonal favourites and other festive items. Of course, the best way to enjoy a band is to see them perform live, but a live album is the next best thing. Here you have the introductions to many of the songs and interaction with the audience.
Among the old favourites you would expect to find on an album of this type are bouncy numbers like the Sans Day Carol, Past Three O’Clock and the Seven Joys of Mary. However, alongside the fun and frivolity there are also poignant moments, with Kellie While bringing touching versions of Mad World (originally a hit for Tears for Fears in the 80s and a surprise Christmas hit for Michael Andrews and Gary Jules in 2003), Dave Goulder’s January Man and Lindisfarne’s beautiful Winter Song.
Other more contemporary carols were written by the 20th Century composer Sidney Carter (of Lord of the Dance fame) - Julian of Norwich tells us about the 14th Century mystic, again sung beautifully by Kellie, and including her famous quote “All shall be well”, while Come Love Carolling is more lively, with Simon Nicol taking the lead and Kellie joining in the rousing chorus.
It is always a pleasure to hear Ashley Hutchings reading, be it poetry or prose - he really should consider branching out into audio books. Particularly enjoyable here is the poem Advent by Christina Rossetti and his explanation of what inspired Mr Trill’s Song.
One for the Road is a treasure-trove of delights and would be a worthy addition to anyone’s Christmas music collection.Shelley Rainey
Released on Rooksmere Records, 8th December 2014
1, Sans Day Carol
2. The King
3. Intro to Mr Trill’s Song
4. Mr Trill’s Song/Gloucester Hornpipe
5. The January Man
6. Calling On/Hogmany
7. Julian of Norwich
8. Come Love Carolling
9. Advent (Reading)
10. In the Bleak Mid Winter
11. Intro to Past Three O’Clock
12.Past Three O’Clock
13. Herod and the Cock
15. Winter Song
16. How the Internet Started
17. Mad World
18. Sweet Chiming Bells/Hark the Herald Angels Sing/The First Nowell
19. Seven Joys of Mary