ALBION BAND - THE VICE OF THE PEOPLE
CD. Powered Flight Music.
many ways, The Albion Band are beyond criticism. This is, after
all, a band that developed a mix of traditional folk and electric
rock music back in the 1970s and have continued to plough that
particular musical furrow ever since, oblivious to changing fads
and fashions. And while folk rock had its flirtation with mainstream
popularity for a few years between the end of the Sixties and
the early Seventies, it’s never been cool – and so,
perversely, has never been uncool.
This line-up of the band represents a new generation of folk artists
– founder Ashley Hutchings standing aside for son Blair
Dunlop who is leading an entirely new, young band – but
the sound is familiar. In the great folk tradition, the songs
are rooted in the lives of the working man – Coalville
being a lament for the decline of the Mining communities, Thieves
Song telling a tale of wealth and poverty –
presented with a biting sarcasm and anger that’s more authentic
than most indie bands whining about inequality while living (or
aspiring to) the millionaire lifestyle.
But it’s not all so overtly socio-political folky stuff–
there are instrumental jigs like The 2x2 Set
and The Skirmish Set, and meaty rockers
like Set Their Mouths to Twisting.
Admittedly, it does tend to get a bit Levellers from time to time
– Faces, for instance –
and sometimes the political arguments are a bit simplistic; such
issues are rarely as simple and black and white as people would
like. But the songs manage, for the most part, to stay on the
right side of the divide between passionate belief and hectoring
With a mix of male and female leads, and impressive harmonising,
this is surprisingly approachable. It might not be commercial
in any conventional sense, but nevertheless, it’s wholly
accessible for anyone open-minded enough to listen.
Time alone will tell if using The Albion Band name is a help or
hinderence to what is, effectively, a new, young band. I fear
it could fall between the traditional fans put off by the lack
of any original members, and younger would-be listeners expecting
tired old folkies going through the motions. It’s unlikely
that this album will win over new converts – mainly because
they will most likely never hear it. But the folk rock movement
continues to find new fans who are more interested in musical
authenticity than fashion, and for them, this rather excellent
album will be most welcome.
IT NOW (UK)