The subject of this memorial CD, Tony Deane, was a singer, author and songwriter who was involved with the folk music scene for over 55 years in London and the southern counties. Lead singer with the Laymen during the 1960s, Tony took an active part in the EFDSS during the 60s and 70s and co-wrote several booklets on aspects of folklore in southern England. In the late-70s he was a founder member of Elsie’s Band, who presided over the regular Cowden Pound (Kent) pub sessions, which have now been running for over 40 years. Sadly, Tony died on 2nd January 2015, in Cornwall (one of his favourite haunts, often considered his “adopted home”!), and his close friend Dave Andrews hit upon the great idea of producing a CD of Tony’s songs as the most fitting and lasting of tributes. The various performers – all friends of Tony’s – gave their time and services freely, and with abundant affection, spirit and enthusiasm. The recordings were mostly made by Jim Ward at Country Branch studio in Crawley during 2015 and 2016.
Tony’s original songs are, as one would expect, conceived from a standpoint of someone well versed in traditional song and folk tradition – and an experienced singer. They tend to be highly accessible (many with good solid choruses) and ably constructed, with a good ear for their potential for folk club participation. Several involve Tony’s beloved Cornwall In their theme or subject matter – among the most memorable are Farewell To South Crofty (written on the closure of that ancient Cornish tin mine), The Lights Of Lundy (inspired by a rough crossing from Ilfracombe), The Falmouth Packet (a good rousing sea song), and The Rosemary Tree (possibly the first song Tony wrote). Other songs worthy of particular attention here include the poignant WW1-themed Orchids (concerning the lost gardens at Heligan), sung by Marilyn Bennett and Sue Gates; Kadina (titled after an area of Australia known as Little Cornwall), sung beautifully by Martyn Wyndham-Read (who else?); The Diamond Of The Moor (the true story of a murder on Bodmin Moor in 1844), performed by Jim Causley; and The Ballad Of Real Ale, sung with audible relish by John Morgan – this is one of the songs without a specifically Cornish theme (though it does namecheck St. Austell Brewery!), which was written in 1971 in celebration of the traditional breweries supplying pubs at the time in defiance of the ubiquitous keg “beer”. Although I’d heard three or four of Tony’s songs before, I’m ashamed to admit that many were completely new to me – but I’ve already earmarked some to learn myself pronto!
However, this memorial CD could not be considered complete without hearing Tony’s own robust singing, so the disc includes three examples; these consist of recordings Tony made with Elsie’s Band, firstly of two of his most famous songs – The Year’s Round, the wonderfully evocative paean to the ceremonies that have forged our landscape, and (arguably Tony’s “greatest hit”) Following The Old ’Oss, written in 1988 as a tribute to Padstow tradition (which Tony had travelled to celebrate regularly since the 60s). Tony’s final contribution to the disc is, entirely appropriately, its closing track, Epilogue – and the only one of its songs with whose authorship Tony had no involvement, having been written by Cornish songwriter John Wallace.
Last Orders is nothing less than a treasure trove of excellent songs well sung. Indeed, this brilliantly packaged CD is an object lesson on how to produce a memorial to a much-loved and much-respected figure of the folk scene. It contains two booklets, together presenting background notes and complete lyrics to all the songs. This CD has been financed by Tony’s children, and all profits will be donated to the RNLI, one of Tony’s favourite charities. It’s available from Tony’s daughter Kerensa via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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