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PHIL BEER - Plays Guitar And Fiddle. Sings A Bit

PHIL BEER - Plays Guitar And Fiddle. Sings A Bit
Talking Elephant TECD272

The 15 tracks here are all taken from live performances over a three year period, on occasions when PB was not on Show Of Hands duty, although some previous SOH material is here (Mary From Dungloe, The Blind Fiddler and Willin’ notably). The former segues into an impressive Varso Vianna. Other material is drawn from the likes of Jackson Brown (The Rebel Jesus), Steve Earle (Devils Right Hand) and Steve Ashley (Fire And Wine). Despite the title, Phil Beer sings on most tracks, and is much more competent than he gives himself credit for. His vocal delivery on Nic Jones’ arrangement of The Warlike Lads Of Russia is one of the album’s highlights for me. The real stars, though, are his expertise on fiddle and guitar, which are captured well here. Despite being a record of exclusively solo performances, there’s enough atmosphere created to hold my attention throughout.

Sadly, PB doesn’t tour solo North of the border (and Show Of Hands haven’t been here for a while either), but we live in hope. In addition to his SOH and solo appearances, he also performs with his own band, as a duo with his original partner Paul Downes, and afloat on Folk Boat sailing experiences (again all South coast based, but worth seeking out if you have the sea legs - I have, but live too far away). Here, though, he’s on his tod but brilliant throughout. Top quality entertainment, and produced to the highest standard by Mark Tucker – only lacking Phil’s introductory patter, which is always great and would have given this an extra star from me.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 105 of The Living Tradition magazine.