On their second (2006) album of Contemporary English Roots Fiddle Music and Songs (Big Chain 103) Pete Cooper and Richard Bolton are joined by Dave Townsend (English concertina) and piano accordionists Sue Lee and Ann Sloboda.
'Their strongest release yet, full of melodic richness and ingenuity'
- Andrew Cronshaw, fRoots magazine
'From the heady rhythms of 'Roadrage' to the eerie harmonies of 'Wilbye's Lament' this album is lively and accomplished... Cooper and Bolton bring fresh ideas to old tunes and mix these with several creations of their own, all played with drive.'
- Alice Little, Fiddle On magazine, 2006
1 Roadrage/ Berserk
2 Persian Ricardo
3 Maiden Lane/ The World Turned Upside Down
4 Synapse/ Hod the Lass
5 The Cuckoo's Nest
6 Ashley's/ Savage Hornpipe
7 The Sleeper
8 Snicket/ Gnosall
9 Acton Township
10 The Lover's Ghost
12 Ironlegs/ Sportsman's
13 Salisbury Plain¢
14 Wilbye's Lament
'In its pre-Victorian golden age,' says Pete, 'English fiddle music was a mongrel tradition. It evolved in a constant shuttle between town and country, 'high' culture and 'low'. Clare's manuscripts, for example, where we found The Savage Hornpipe, are an amazing rag-bag of English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, American, French and German dance tunes, along with song airs, and music for the theatre and opera house. Clare's is just one of numerous country fiddlers' collections which, taken together, reveal the breadth and vitality of English fiddle music in its heyday.'
'Some of the tunes here are from the manuscripts and notebooks of Midlands fiddler and poet John Clare, but there are also original compositions and, while some of the tunes may be familiar, the use of Richard Bolton's cello ensures that the arrangements are not. Have a listen to the percussive (sometimes literally) playing on The Sleeper, then to the almost classical feel of Katya a couple of tracks later. Pete's no mean singer either, showing excellent comic timing on a delightfully risqué version of The Cuckoo's Nest. Then, towards the end, when you think you've got them nailed, they hit you with the smokey, French-sounding (to my ear) jazz arrangement of Wilbye's Lament featuring some really tasty guitar work from Richard. Very listenable indeed and a good showcase of some fine talent.'
- Phil Thomas, The Living Tradition, Issue 73
" 'Acton Town' is named for Richard Bolton's nearest tube station and as homage to the cello playing of Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim) the South African jazz pianist. 'The Sleeper' is described as a collision between the styles of Donegal and the Balkans. 'Maiden Lane/ The World Upside Down' joins up a 1651 Playford dance tune with Leon Rosselson's classic song about the hopes and ultimate fate of the Diggers. 'Wilbye's Lament' is a lovely elegaic piece by Richard Bolton in the style of John Wilbye (1574 - 1638) on the early death of a musician friend. There is not a dud track on this CD, and for anyone who loves our tradition it is well worth keeping on the CD player for a long time."
- TF, Folk London Oct-Nov 2006
'One particularly interesting set is Cooper's 'Synapse' combined with the eighteenth century Lake District version of 'Hod the Lass'. Beginning in the rather un-English metre of eleven (3+3+2+3), it segues marvellously into the wildly-syncopated traditional reel… A couple of newish tunes in traditional style, such as 'Snicket' by Sue Lee and Cooper's 'G for Gnosall' could easily slip into a session… A couple of songs round out the selection. Cooper and Bolton's version of 'The Cuckoo's Nest' is based on a major tune from John Clare's collection, and is recorded here with a slight smirk, and hint of ska in the rhythm section. Good fun. The dark and spooky 'Salisbury Plain' was collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Cooper and Bolton use drones and dissonances to heighten the effect of the mournful melody… Enjoy!'
- Elaine Bradtke, English Dance & Song
Tunes in mp3 format:
Persian Ricardo; Cuckoos Nest; Ashleys Hornpipe and the Savage Hornpipe, are from the manuscript notebooks of east Midlands fiddle player and poet John Clare (1793 - 1864), who in the 1820s collected over two hundred and fifty tunes, some of them ‘pricked down' from the playing of gypsy fiddlers he knew, others copied from printed sources. Jigs, marches, hornpipes, reels and waltzes are crowded into their pages with not a precious space wasted, a characteristic rag-bag of English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, American, French and German dance tunes, along with song airs, and music for the theatre and opera house.