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RUSS CHANDLER - Last Night In Babylon

RUSS CHANDLER - Last Night In Babylon

I’ll be absolutely honest in saying that I know almost nothing about Russ Chandler. I’ll also be honest by stating that, when I read in the sleeve notes that he could never settle on one style or direction, I really wasn’t looking forward to listening and had made my mind up not to like Last Night In Babylon.

I found out Russ is based in Essex and London and is a driving force behind the Walthamstow Folk Club. When I read he was a banjo player things had started to get worse. But you have to have an open mind I told myself and began to listen.

To say that the genres covered are diverse is an understatement. After four tracks we had experienced a medley of minstrel songs, a Ewan MacColl song, one of the more monotonous Lou Reed tracks about someone who had blue eyes but actually had hazel ones, and a humorous song about wishing you were dead!! The CD even finishes with a Bob Marley song!!

But, I have to say, reluctantly, that because of the care taken by Russ and those guests playing alongside him, IT WORKS.  I presume Russ Chandler has, over the years, tried and tested the material on many audiences and taken his time to create Last Night In Babylon, if only others would do the same.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this and each time it is played something new is found. Perhaps it’s a good argument not to pigeonhole music and that different styles can sit side by side quite comfortably.

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 92 of The Living Tradition magazine.