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Amazon's Bellowhead Store


Image of album by Bellowhead


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Britain’s most successful traditional folk act Bellowhead are 10 years old this year. Not only did they mark their birthday with two of their biggest sold out shows to date - in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on 19th April and London’s Royal Albert Hall on 20th April – they also announced from the stage at the Royal Albert Hall that they are releasing a brand new album ... Read more in Amazon's Bellowhead Store

Visit Amazon's Bellowhead Store
for 7 albums, 5 photos, discussions, and more.

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Product details

  • Audio CD (15 Oct. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Navigator Records
  • ASIN: B0085KAMOQ
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,300 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Byker Hill
2. Old Dun Cow
3. Roll The Woodpile Down
4. 10,000 Miles Away
5. Bestsy Baker
6. Black Beetle Pies
7. Thousands Or More
8. The Dockside Rant/Sailing With The Tide
9. The Wife Of Usher's Well
10. What's The Life Of A Man (Any More Than A Leaf?)
11. Lillibulero
12. Go My Way

Product Description

Product Description

Bigger, bolder, brassier and more brazen than ever, Bellowhead blaze back with their mighty new album, Broadside. While all things Bellowhead tend to be an event, Broadside is a positive spectacular, taking some of the wildest, most joyous and iconic songs in the richly colourful canon of the folk song tradition… and turning them upside down and inside out with the unique sense of drama and theatre, instrumental virtuosity, verve, humour and blind cheek that has seen them spearhead the new folk boom. Their third album Hedonism was the highest-selling independently released traditional folk album of all time, yet the new one Broadside (a title that rather cunningly melds an early form of printed song sharing with an appropriate nautical reference to firepower) is surely set to eclipse it with its thrilling arrangements and non-stop party spirit. Like Hedonism, Broadside is produced by the great John Leckie, who has previously done wonderful things with the Stone Roses and Radiohead; and he's now effectively captured all the explosiveness that has established Bellowhead's undisputed reputation as one of the planet's most exciting live bands and replicated it in the studio. In this case that studio is Rockfield, where Freddie Mercury once held court. Indeed, at one point the massed vocals even evoke Bohemian Rhapsody and Freddie would surely have identified with the electrifying dynamism and sense of fun conjured up by this very special band. A couple of the tracks are based on songs that initially found common currency in the form of those printed broadsides – the gruesome romp Black Beetle Pies for one and the spooky ballad The Wife Of Usher's Well - all death, ghosts and "earthly flesh and blood" – for another. Weirdness also abounds with Betsy Baker, a vigorous tale of unrequited love, while some of the most venerated songs of the folk revival – Northumbrian mining song Byker Hill, the Copper Family classic Thousands Or More, the rocking sea shanty Go My Way and The Old Dun Cow - the knockabout tale of being trapped inside a burning pub – are revived in startling ways. They may be familiar, but they've never sounded like this before. There's even an irresistibly bonkers take on Lillibulero, a satirical song set to a tune attributed to Henry Purcell, on which the band flex their considerable muscles and gleefully explore their seemingly bottomless box of magic tricks, emerging with storming vocals, blitzing percussion, rampaging strings and mad, bad brass. Broadside, their fourth album, writes another extraordinary chapter in the story of Bellowhead, which began in 2004 when a disparate group of characters who initially knew one another from informal pub sessions thought it might be a good wheeze to pool their widely varied backgrounds, influences and talents and form a big band… just to see what happened. Even they couldn't have imagined the results as their funny little enterprise -incorporating top-notch jazz, world, folk and classical musicians in a swathe of brass, strings, squeezebox, percussion and anything else that seemed like a good idea at the time - swiftly expanded into a gung-ho 11-piece line-up. Four albums, a glut of awards, sell-out tours and a long trail of thunderous festival appearances down the line, they've transported folk music into hitherto unknown territory, introducing a whole new audience to it with them. "The greatest live act in Britain," says BBC Radio 2's Simon Mayo. "One of the best live bands in the UK…or anywhere," says Jeremy Vine. And the hordes of dancing fans grinning and singing along and treating every gig as a party clearly agree. That party gains even more momentum with Broadside for, while some of the songs may appear graphic and brutal, this is above all, an album driven by a lust for life. And that's a subject close to the heart of Bellowhead.

BBC Review

It's all there in that name. Those three syllables suggest a hollering madman, and a ferocity that will – for the newcomer – seem far removed from folk music. But Bellowhead are one of the genre's 21st century success stories.

An 11-piece group founded by duo John Spiers and Jon Boden in 2004, they've played Proms, won seven Radio 2 Folk Awards, and their last album (2010's Hedonism) sold 60,000 copies, becoming the best-selling independent folk LP of all time.

Broadside sees the band decamp to Monmouth's legendary Rockfield Studios, with their now-established producer John Leckie, more famous in pop circles for producing The Stone Roses. This is folk music obeying different rules without doubt, cast in wilder, brighter colours.

Broadside is no typical folk album, either. We're more in the realm of The Pogues and Dexys, hanging out with a thinking-and-doing party band, who twist traditional tunes through rabble-rousing arrangements.

This can work, as their treatment of the drinking song, Old Dun Cow, reveals. Stirring into life with a sinister bass clarinet, a clattering snare drum soon promises menace. Then horns and strings arrive, creating the soundworld of a 1960s film thriller. For a song about boozing men stuck in a burning pub, it creates a very fresh kind of drama.

The sea shanty 10,000 Miles Away is also given a clever reboot. Its title promises travel, and the song delivers it, beginning with hints of tropicalia music before giving over to the jangles of a bluegrass banjo.

Elsewhere, Broadside's mood remains one of dramatic excess, as much of the theatre as of the turntable. It's there when Black Beetle Pies begins with a terrifying, gurgling laugh, and when Lillibulero sets a Henry Purcell tune against jaunty accordions, before screeching middle-eight string harmonics move us on.

But the stories can also, sadly, get lost in the volume. This happens literally in The Wife of Usher’s Well, where the ever-blaring horn section smothers the voices completely.

Live, this may not matter, but on record, it does. When Bellowhead's mission is telling old stories in rousing new ways, sometimes the noise has to die down to make these narratives matter.

--Jude Rogers

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By P. C. Jowett on 17 Oct. 2012
Format: Audio CD
I must confess at the outset that I am a fan of this band and so I was eagerly awaiting this new release. On first hearing it I thought it was not as immediate as their other albums. However, after a couple of days listening I am not disappointed. It is a rich, heady concoction. Some of the songs grab you immediately - eg 'Roll the Woodpile' Down' and '10,000 Miles'. Also loved the sad love song 'Betsy Baker', with its Beatlesque feel, from the first moment I heard it. Other songs take a few listens - they sound strange at first and then worm their way into your brain and won't let go. In this category I would put 'Old Dun Cow', 'What's the Life of Man' and the haunting (in every sense) 'The Wife of Usher's Well'. The choral arrangements in 'Usher's Well' remind me of Orffe's 'Carmina Burana' for some reason; but this track is my favourite - a real grower. 'Black Beetle Pie' is another track that takes a few listens - it is quite, quite brilliant in a bonkers kind of way.

There is so much to enjoy in these tracks - particularly the layers of vocals, although sometimes these almost overwhelm Jon Boden's lead. (Found I need to listen on really good headphones to get the best effect). There seem's to be so much depth and so much to discover from repeated listening. Another triumph - can't wait to hear it all live!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Booth on 23 Oct. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Bellowhead are on the brink. Well, maybe they're on several brinks.
Firstly they are on the brink of crossover-mainstream success. This new album has broken records for first week sales of a (real) folk album. They get invited onto Jools Holland's Later with a full share, not the usual "one song, acoustic" token folkie. People are noticing.
But they're also on the brink of being too clever for their own good. Despite the fact that this is a very enjoyable, full of confidence blast of a collection, there are indications that there perhaps needs to be a little "reining in".
It all starts well enough. Byker Hill is given the sort of treatment you might expect and all is well. Unfortunately The Old Dun Cow (track two) doesn't fare so well. It feels like someone's come up with a great arrangement without having a song to fit it, and this old club favourite has been forced in like squeezing Cushy Butterfield into a size 8 strapless frock. It squeals like it hurts. Thousands Or More isn't quite so bad but the old Copper's might have pulled a face and tutted a bit.
The other brink they need to be watchful of is Jon Boden's vocal limitations. On more than one occasion he is buried under the power of all that brass and you have to be grateful they've printed the lyrics in the booklet. They do use the chorus more often which makes me wonder if there's another voice there that could take an occasional lead just for variety, but for an album that's been recorded at Rockfield Studio, famous for "Bohemian Rhapsody" amongst others, you might have thought they might have taken more care of the vocals.
Ok, so grumbles out of the way, there is much to like about this. Yes, really, I did enjoy it.
Read more ›
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Apple 0101 on 17 Oct. 2012
Format: Audio CD
I have always had a bit of a soft spot for Bellowhead, I have seen them play live a couple of times and I defy anyone to go and see them and not return happier for the experience, but have struggled a bit with their recorded material as it didn't quite capture the sheer exuberance of their live performances.

But I really think they have started to perfect things with their last couple of albums, by taking a different tack, not by trying to emulate their live performances, but by in a sense doing quite the opposite, dare I say it, as I am not too sure how the folk purist think of this, they have done this by focusing more on the production side of things. There seems to be greater level of more subtle orchestration on the last couple of albums, using a wider range of music instruments, I swear I even heard a touch of synthesiser in this new one! But it has not been to the detriment of their wonderfully eccentric and playful spirit or the integrity of their folk music heritage. Broadside is a really listenable album that pushes musical boundaries, I recommend you buy it and enjoy! I think they probably have to thank John Leckie for this gear shift.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By orla3 on 16 Oct. 2012
Format: MP3 Download Verified Purchase
Have been wanting some new Bellowhead for a while now and this'll do nicely! Loved every track on first listen - usually not a good sign, but still playing every one all the way through 3 days later. Would have liked a couple more instrumentals, but then, what could beat Sloe Gin? Go my Way and What's the life of a man have played in my head at work for the last two days and 10,000 miles is an instant singalong. Well done, Bellowhead - worth waiting for!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Big Jim TOP 100 REVIEWER on 15 Oct. 2012
Format: Audio CD
Hopefully I have covered at least some of the genres that to my ears at least appear to have been poured into the making of this strange and wonderful album. Using instruments and styles that may not normally appear in "folk" music, Bellowhead have hit upon a unique amalgam that gives us music that entertains as much as it challenges. Where else are you going to find tuba (I think) clashing then blending with clattering, banging drums, raucous brass and swirling strings? It is also music that rewards persistence and repeated listening as there are so many layers that need to be discovered and savoured long after the first listen through. By taking traditional music on such a journey Bellowhead are making music that is actually at the cutting edge and deserves to have a larger audience.
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