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VARIOUS ARTISTS - Songs Now And Then 

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Songs Now And Then 
Brown Label Recordings BLTH01 

Subtitled Singing From A Hampshire Pub, The Harrow Inn At Steep, this is a real gem. The pub has a long tradition of singing, as do others owned by the same family for generations (in this case nearly a century), and this recording was largely prompted by 50 years of pub singing by Davy Goodchild – obviously a memorable character, and no less remarkable for his singing. The nine tracks he sings here form a fitting memorial to a man who the listener will wish he’d met. There are also songs learned from members of the Dodd family (the licencees) and sung by locals, including Martyn Wyndham-Read.

The songs themselves are local versions of songs popular throughout Southern England in one form or another, and it’s the variations that fascinate me. We have many of these songs in Dorset and Somerset, but they’re not the same! There are some music hall numbers, as in so many traditional repertoires, and many of the 20 tracks are incomplete versions, but that’s the way they were sung in this venue. The quality of the singing is good, and the entire recording exudes good nature and bonhomie, as befits pub singing.

This recording’s being put out as a fundraiser, with 100% of the £10 sale price going to the hospice-at-home Rosemary Foundation. Copies are available from or from the Harrow Inn at Steep. If you enjoy traditional pub sing songs, this is a most enjoyable bargain.

John Waltham


This review appeared in Issue 135 of The Living Tradition magazine