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Until as recent as five years ago, ask anyone to name a Lincolnshire folk performer, and the instant answer would be "John Conolly".

Today his name would still be the first one to trip off the tongue, but it would be closely followed by the names of this duo, whose fourth album - "Fit For Reclining" - this is. Gosh, I almost caught myself typing "Fit For RECYCLING" there! And that has got me wondering. I fancy that Bill & Dave almost chose their CD title deliberately, with the impish intention of getting their reviewers to make an embarrassing Freudian slip. And they nearly succeeded in my case.

But had I come a cropper on that linguistic banana skin, it would not have mattered too much. For the album is indeed fit for recycling : by that I mean there are no impurities in it that would bar it from the recycling process. For it is a wholesome and thoroughly pleasing CD: one that shows the duo in the best light possible, given the confines of the recording studio. And this last point is my way of saying that one hopes that this duo's fifth album will be a DVD of a live performance. For only then will we have present that vital ingredient of a Bill & Dave concert, viz their lovely, gentle banter. They remind me a lot of the Steptoes. Dave is Harold, to Bill's Albert. And this comparison does not end at their humour.

It is there also in Bill's marvellously effective harmonies. He sings his harmonic line in a curiously rasping voice, a bit akin to cousin Ron Copper, but also somehow redolent of Wilfred Bramble. But let's get it clear: whereas Dave's glorious tenor voice is worthy of being able to represent ENGLAND in a song competition, Bill too has a fine bass-baritone voice that is at least worthy of representing LINCOLNSHIRE. If you needed proof of his fine solo qualities, just listen to track 8 here, and his singing of the Charles Kingsley poem "Young and Old".

But no, it's his HARMONIES that fascinate me. They are so charming, and this pleasure results from him adopting a sort of a Chesney Allen drone to Dave's lyrical Bud Flanagan. But with a massive added bonus: Chesney Allen could not play a dazzling array of concertinas! Let alone play them with the aplomb of Bill. And here his playing is on top-form. To match their singing. And indeed to match their song selection, which never strays from the path of sheer quality.

Nice to see songs by Mick Ryan here. His songs deserve wider recognition. And nice to see two masterpieces. The first is from the singing of Beth Nielsen Chapman, a song she co-wrote, 'I Find Your Love'. It is a song I have long loved, and I can understand why it means that much MORE to Dave following the recent sad loss of his dear wife. And he uses it to wrap around a song called 'Crossing Over' from the singing of Tommy Fleming.

And here lies my only beef with the whole album. Let me explain.

Now there is nothing remotely wrong with this latter song, and juxtaposing the two, does work to a degree. But that said, 'I Find Your Love' is a song of such searing brilliance that it should not be used to top-and-tail anything! If ever a song can stand alone, then this is it. And the fact it is a SHORT song is no reason to NOT let it stand in its majestic, independent enclosure.

And the second masterpiece? Easy. From the shortest song on the CD, to the longest: Dave Evardson's brilliant 'North Wall'.

And to think that this song did not win the BBC Write A Folk Song For Lincolnshire competition of its year! The hunt is on to find who it was who slipped the judges a Mickey Finn.

Dai Woosnam
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This album was reviewed in Issue 69 of The Living Tradition magazine.