Spiers & Boden: The Works

Ten years ago melodeon and concertina player John Spiers met singer and fiddler Jon Boden in an Oxford pub. Realising they were on a similar journey to explore English roots music they teamed up and have been performing and recording as a duo ever since. The Works is the 10th anniversary celebration of this partnership. The album contains 11 brand new recordings of some of their favourite songs and tunes from the five albums they have made up to now. These different versions are enhanced by the presence of some of the biggest names on the English folk scene such as Martin Carthy, Maddy Prior, Eliza Carthy, Martin Simpson, Fay Hield, Nancy Kerr and James Fagan.

Going over old ground again could have been a mistake but in the hands of Spiers and Boden it turns out to be quite the opposite. The album sounds very fresh and is probably the most satisfying thing they’ve done as a duo. These pieces are tweaked just enough to revitalize them and the ten years they’ve spent playing together shows in the confidence of these more accomplished versions. The guest musicians are used sparingly throughout so that it’s still Spiers and Boden who are the main focus of attention. Of the songs, the highlight for me is ‘The Birth of Robin Hood’ which sounds even better here than on the outstanding original from their album Vagabond.

Spiers and Boden are also founder members of the big band Bellowhead whose album Hedonism was reviewed here last year, and they have fingers in several other musical pies. One of the most interesting has been Jon Boden’s internet project ‘A Folk Song a Day’ in which he sang a different song every day for a year. Now it’s good to hear John and Jon on a new album and playing at the peak of their powers.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Roots Music from Out There

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