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Reviews
The Duck Race JOHN KIRKPATRICK
The Duck Race
Fledg'ling FLED 3043





Subtitled 'Morris Dance tunes from Shropshire', this CD follows up 1988's Sheepskins and features tunes used by Shropshire Bedlams and Martha Rhoden's Tuppenny Dish - the two Bishops Castle-based sides with which JK has been associated for the best part of a generation. Some are Trad. Arr., some are written by members of the two teams which of course include John and Sally Kirkpatrick. Capering, shouting and general chaos are the order of the day and in fact the title track is a dance which John invented in 1998 as a finishing off-piece. This sees both teams dodgem each other, generally completing the hurly-burly of frantic, noisy activity which has brought mayhem to your peaceful existence over the preceding 30 minutes. A raised blood pressure will have additionally left you with beaming-smile-on-face!

The Border Morris which both teams interpret was/is a boisterous, energetic form of the dance largely overlooked or worse, ignored, by the early collectors. Cecil Sharp considered it a degenerate form of the Morris and hardly worth noting as compared with the stately Cotswold variant which he held so dear. With their blackened faces, rags and tatters garb and generally riotous behaviour, (if contemporary reports are to be believed) the original teams would have given binge drinking a bad name! The Welsh border counties of Shropshire, Hereford and Worcestershire were the focus for this anarchy and John has been largely instrumental (pun intended!) in the revival of the activity. Performed, arranged and produced by him, this is necessarily a specialist release but that doesn't make it any the less enjoyable.

Being a Kirkpatrick record, it's all push n' pull on Anglo concertinas and melodeons of various persuasions and it goes without saying that the playing is exemplary. The tray insert notes give all the technical gen plus notes on the tunes which John himself describes as "pretty basic." They're all that's needed though as dance accompaniment - they pulse and propel. Polkas, hornpipes, country dances - all are brought into use and whilst this CD will have appeal for the muso or dancer, there's plenty of vim and vigour to ensure that, in the home environment, your hoovering will become more sprightly!

Clive Pownceby - July 2004

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