New Bellowhead album: Hedonism

English singer and fiddle player Jon Boden was featured in an earlier post for his ongoing ‘A Folk Song a Day’ project. Now his big eleven piece band Bellowhead have a new album Hedonism released on the Navigator Records label. Formed around the nucleus of Jon Boden and John Spiers (who plays melodeon and concertina on the new album), the other band members bring a variety of instruments to the mix including guitar, bass, bouzouki, mandolin, cello, tuba, trumpet, sax, clarinet and oboe. This is Bellowhead’s 3rd full length studio album and is almost certainly the best so far. This may well be because of their approach to recording it. Not entirely satisfied that the sound on their previous albums adequately replicated the excitement generated on stage, they brought in experienced producer John Leckie (who has worked with both Radiohead and Baaba Maal among others) and recorded the album in an immediate way as a series of more or less live performances at London’s famous Abbey Road studios.

All but one of the eleven tracks are traditional songs with new arrangements by members of the band, the exception being Jacques Brel’s ‘Amsterdam’.  The opening song ‘New York Girls’ sets a very high standard which is generally maintained throughout the album and the use of all these instruments never becomes too cluttered or showy. Bellowhead make a fine noise which is full of exuberance and enjoyment and this has been captured here better than ever before. Hedonism comes in various formats and in addition to the CD it can be bought as a vinyl record, a download, and as a limited edition CD/DVD with a 75 minute documentary on the making of the album.

Further information, music samples, and videos of the band can be found on their website at www.bellowhead.co.uk

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