The thread binding it all together is Ashley Hutchings himself… and the difficulty of getting lyrics for any of their works.
It is possible to see two phases in the career of the band however, broadly when Ashley had money to work with musicians established as the best, and after he finally ran out! Broadly in the first category from 1971 to 1979 there are No Roses, Morris On, Battle of the Field, The Compleat Dancing Master, Son of Morris On, Kickin’ up the Sawdust, The Prospect Before Us, and Rise Up Like the Sun, Lark Rise to Candleford: a Country Tapestry. And then everything else!
And of these, No Roses, Battle of the Field and Lark Rise are those where everything best comes together, as portraits of a vanished world, specifically English, without the Irish and Scots elements that Fairport cheerfully incorporated but with elements of the modern world too in the electric guitars and fiddle. The Prospect Before Us, and Rise Up Like the Sun are perhaps however the most accomplished as folk rock, although the arrangements may sometimes verge on the overblown to some tastes.
Rattlebone and Ploughjack also deserves honourable mention, in a third category, as probably the least commercially minded release ever by a major label! Find it (if you can) and wonder!
Band members supporting Ashley are too many to list, but in the early years among the most notable are Mike and Lal Waterson, Tim Renwick, Maddy Prior, Shirley Collins, who headlined No Roses, Dolly Collins, Richard Thompson, John Kirkpatrick, Barry Dransfield, Simon Nicol, Martin Carthy, Peter Knight, and later John Tams, Phil Pickett, Graeme Taylor, Eddie Upton, Phil Beer and Rick Sanders.
In July of 2011 Hutchings announced that the Albion Band would be forming again, and for the first time he himself would not be a member. Instead he passed the baton to his son - the guitarist and singer Blair Dunlop. This new line up also features a number of other current folk performers from a range of backgrounds reflecting earlier versions of the Albion Band. These members include Folk Award nominee katriona gilmore (Tiny Tin Lady, Gilmore/Roberts) on fiddle and vocals, vocalist, concertina player and guitarist Gavin Davenport (Crucible, Glorystrokes, Hekety), drummer Tom Wright (Eliza Carthy projects/Glorystrokes), and Tim Yates (Blackbeard’s Tea Party/The QP) on bass - only the second bass player in the band’s history, and lead guitarist and relative newcomer Benjamin Trott. This line up released an own label EP Fighting Room in 2011 and their first studio album Vice of the People in 2012.
Edited by headey on 29 Oct 2012, 09:51
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