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The DruidsThe Druids
Album: Pastime With Good Company
Label: Talking Elephant
Tracks: 14
Website: http://www.talkingelephant.co.uk

Late in 2014, I lavished praise on Talking Elephant for reissuing the first of the Druids' three albums that originally came out on Decca subsidiary Argo; at the same time I expressed hope that the remaining pair would follow in due course. Now my prayers have been partly answered, for here's a smart reissue of album number two in the series, Pastime With Good Company.

I won't repeat at length my introduction to the Derby-based group, but refer you to my earlier review for the detail; suffice to say, the five-piece lineup of Keith Kendrick, John Adams, Mick Hennessy, Dave Broughton and Judy Longden survived into 1972 to record this followup to Burnt Offering, and their typically lusty and characterful vocal and instrumental work is once again a feature of their music-making, with if anything an even bolder musical canvas this time round.

The mix of sources is as before, with traditional and original material providing natural bedfellows: the ever-popular White Cockade and Marrowbones, Three Jolly Sportsmen (also from the Marrowbones collection) and a fine a cappella rendition of the lesser-known (at the time) Leaves Of Life well complement the industrial-themed Diggers' Song and All's Dear But Poor Men's Labour (both unearthed during research for a BBC radio documentary) and Roger Watson's vital chorus song Pick And The Malt Shovel, with local humour being provided by John Tams' Congleton Bear. In contrast, there's Judy's excellent account of The Irish Girl (it's a pity that she's under-used on the album as a whole…). The disc is bookended by jaunty, bouncy, energetic tune-sets employing the full available instrumental panoply (who in their right mind would turn down the invitation to "tak' the floor", even if we're dragged off way too abruptly at the close!); two further instrumental sets are scattered amidst the LP's vocal items.

All in all, Pastime With Good Company. is a thoroughly irresistible, fresh-sounding "old-school folk" album that stands up exceedingly well today.

David Kidman