Plain English

A lot of time and effort went into this album, and we are really pleased with the sound that we have achieved.

Plain English front cover (5k)Plain English back cover (5k)

Morning Star (trad.) / Plain English (Mark Fry)
Howden Town (trad.)
Lavenders Blue (trad.)
Orange In Bloom (trad.) / Sweet Jenny Jones (trad.)
Abraham's Daughter (trad.)
Julian Of Norwich (Sydney Carter)
The Hornbeam (Mark Fry)
Served My Time (trad. arr. Wolff)
Derrière Chez Nous (trad.) / Mazurka de Limousin (trad.)
Northfield (Isaac Watts, Jeremiah Ingalls)
George Fox (Sydney Carter)
Dr Wilmshurst's Farewell To Oxford (Mark Fry)
Lazy Bones (Carmichael, Mercer, arr. Roger Moon)
Rolling Home (John Tams)
What can you expect to hear? Here's a quick guide to the music. You can listen to it too. We've recorded the first 45 seconds of some tracks in MP3. Just click on the "sample" link. Each sample is 706 kbytes.

To order your copy, follow this link.

1. Morning Star (trad.) / Plain English (Mark Fry)

After a slow opening, introducing each player in turn, we step into the first tune, a morris dance, at an easy, rolling pace, then shift up a gear for the polka that gives the album its title. (sample)
Mark: baritone & treble English concertina; Ian & Dave: anglo concertinas, Dick: melodeon.

2. The White Hare of Howden (trad.)

In this song we blend the English tradition with twentieth century blues. The saxophone provides a sinister commentary as we boast of the chase. Hear the harmonica shriek when the bunny finally gets it! (sample)
Mark: guitar; Ian: lead vocal; Dick: harmonica; Nick Wolff: alto saxophone

3. Lavenders Blue (trad.)

The full version of the well known nursery rhyme becomes a spooky reflection on love and death in the countryside. The angelic voice singing harmony to Mark's melody is Sue Brown. (sample)
Mark: guitar & lead vocal; Ian: anglo concertina; Dick: hammer dulcimer; Sue Brown: vocal.

4. The Orange In Bloom (trad.) / Sweet Jenny Jones (trad.)

More morris tunes, but in waltz time, and with a twist in the tail. Three concertinas are well to the fore, with electric bass underneath. (sample)
Mark: bass guitar; Ian, Dave & Dick: anglo concertinas.

5. Abraham's Daughter (trad.)

Here's a rowdy patriotic song from the American civil war, before the hubris was punctured and the real cost of war became apparent. We march off "to death or victory" to the sound of fife and drum. (sample)
Mark: guitar & vocal; Ian: anglo concertina & vocal; Dave: lead vocal; Dick: melodeon and whistles; Patrick Hunter: snare drum.

6. Julian Of Norwich (Sydney Carter)

Mother Julian was one of England's greatest mystics. In a time of plague, famine and revolution, she had visions of peace and salvation. "All shall be well again, I know."
Mark: octave mandola; Ian: lead vocal; Dick hammer dulcimer and vocal

7. The Hornbeam (Mark Fry)

What starts as a simple waltz builds into a real barnstormer, with French and Cajun flavours to spice up the English beef. (sample)
Mark: treble English concertina and bass guitar; Ian & Dave: anglo concertinas; Dick: melodeon.

8. Served My Time (trad. arr. Wolff)

An old man's wistful reflections on a hard life, real success against injustice, and the march of time. The arrangement is sparse, the effect is beautiful, powerful and haunting. (sample)
Dick: Crane duet concertina and vocal.

9. Derrière Chez Nous (trad.) / Mazurka de Limousin (trad.)

Forget the tango and the rumba, these French bourees are amongst the sexiest dances ever invented. The melodeon sounds like a hurdy-gurdy, and the concertinas fire staccato notes like peas from a pea-shooter. (sample)
Mark: treble English concertina; Ian: anglo concertina; Dick: melodeon.

10. Northfield (Isaac Watts, Jeremiah Ingalls)

The energetic English tradition of hymn singing, now characterized as "west gallery" music, was suppressed by church officials in the early 19th century. It survived in the eastern United States, and is now being revived in both countries. This 18th century example from America has words by Englishman Isaac Watts, set to a tune by American Jeremiah Ingalls. (sample)
vocals: lead – Ian, bass – Dave, tenor – Mark, alto – Dick

11. George Fox (Sydney Carter)

Here's a song in celebration of a great English reformer. George Fox was mocked by crowds where ever he went - you can hear them in the choruses - but the light he saw shining in the heart of a man, and the holiness of truth, built the Quaker movement.
Mark: guitar, vocal; Ian: anglo concertina, vocal; Dave: lead vocal; Dick: duet concertina, vocal.

12. Dr Wilmshurst's Farewell To Oxford (Mark Fry)

Multiple concertinas weave an unsteady course home from the pub, stumbling on paving stones, and leaning heavily on each others shoulders. (sample)
Mark: treble & baritone English concertinas; Ian & Dave: anglo concertinas; Dick: anglo and duet concertinas.

13. Lazy Bones (Carmichael, Mercer, arr. Roger Moon)

More Anglo-Americana, but in a very different style. These close, American style harmonies are great fun to sing! The arrangement is by an Englishman.
Vocals: lead – Mark, bass –Dave, tenor – Ian; alto - Dick

14. Rolling Home (John Tams)

A rollicking way to finish - a crowd of friends sing in praise of brotherhood, comradeship and booze. "Stand true and stand together." Up the workers and the Devil take the bosses!
Mark: guitar, lead vocal; Ian: vocal; Dave: anglo concertina, vocal; Dick: melodeon, vocal; Chorus: Sue Brown, Helen Adams, Nick, Karen and Anna Wolff,

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this page updated 1/10/2000