Polkas, waltzes, a tango - even a surprisingly authentic rendition of the Godfather theme - this is a far cry from the rough-cut rural dance music of someone like Scan Tester. Both the material and the playing are far more sophisticated (the English concertina allowing for multi-voiced arrangements in a way that the Anglo does not). Yet these two men, contemporaries of Tester's and recorded about the same time in the 70s, were no less authentic working men; and like him they were part of an informal, semi-professional musical world. The difference, perhaps, is that they were townies, playing for an urban audience.
This CD, another of Free Reed's brilliant re-issues, represents an aspect of English tradition that has been all but forgotten. It's probably what George Orwell was talking about when he slightingly compared the hold of poetry on the British people with that of concertina-playing: the booklet notes tell of a time when social clubs held concertina competitions, every northern town had a concertina band, and the instrument was so common that some pawn shops dealt exclusively in it.
I had to upgrade to five stars, in spite of some imperfections in the playing, after finding myself listening to it three times on the trot. Fill your pipe, pull your chair up to the fire, and get another round in.