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HOME SERVICE - Live 1986

HOME SERVICE - Live 1986
Fledg’ling Records  FLED3085

I know there’s some of you out there too young to remember this outfit, who burst out of early 1980s Albion Band roots with a flourish, provided many of us with a soundtrack to the miners’ strike, made us sit up and take notice, then promptly went their separate ways when on the cusp of success. They produced three fine studio albums, provided the music for the National’s ‘Mysteries’ (which was memorably televised), and trolleyed around the festivals for a couple of memorable years.

The essence of this band were John Tams and Graeme Taylor on rhythm and lead guitars with the tightest of rhythm sections and assorted horns – and before you begin to think of a Commitments style band, they played traditional English rural fare, with a few new Tams offerings included for a contemporary thrust (mind you, I bet they could have been a fab soul band if they’d set their minds to it). The politics of the time meant that if they hadn’t already been planned, Home Service would have had to have been invented. Always at their best in a live situation (but how on earth they managed to tour such a size of band profitably is un-fathomable – but possibly a factor in their early lamented demise). Therefore, it is for some a finding of the mother lode for the ¼” tape found in the sound engineer’s wardrobe of a gig at Cambridge Festival in 1986. That Graeme Taylor has been able to salvage this gem is remarkable.

The quality throughout is outstanding – Home Service’s finest hour – captured live. All the classic HS songs are here – Walk My Way and Alright Jack are easily as exciting as their studio counterparts. Peat Bog Soldiers is just sublime. An unclaimed treasure – dash out and capture your own personal trove. Well packaged, but sadly with a dearth of songwriting credits, though you don’t need many forensic skills to identify they were mostly trad or Tams in origin. These guys were most definitely the business.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 90 of The Living Tradition magazine.