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4.6 out of 5 stars51
4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 3 January 2007
This album is absolutely superb! If you like upbeat, modern interpretations of traditional folk songs, then this is for you! (Beware, though, there are a few slower songs thrown in...)

Were I to try and categorise them - which seems to me a slightly foolhardy undertaking for such an original outfit - I'd say they're a mixture of Pressgang (very reminiscent, but plus nice brass section) meets The Oysterband (for pure musicianship and the squeezebox-singer) for a quick session, parlaying with the Negresses Vertes (bouncing brass and Med-style rhythms) having a beer or three with Kate Rusby (sensitive understanding of our great musical heritage), possibly trading witticisms across the crowded bar with The Men They Couldn't Hang (for sheer attitude).

I haven't stopped playing this since I got it for Christmas and would recommend it to anyone!
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on 30 April 2007
This album is quite simply the most beautiful piece of work I have ever listened to. I appreciate that is only my opinion, being a big fan of folk music, but I do believe that almost anyone that listens will share at least some of my enthusiasm for it.

The music is inspired yet original, and definately very varied and in many places quite unique. Parts of the album (such as the track Jordan) remind me of artists such as Steeleye Span, whereas others echo Bob Dylan. There is everything you could want on it, from true folk dances (like Sloe Gin) to soft heart-renching ballads like Courting too Slow and Across the Line. I can guarantee that there will be one track on this album you will fall in love with. There is literally something for everyone.

I seriously recomend you buy this, it is utter genius.
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Where to start when trying to describe this wonderful album? The great Bellowhead defy all description. This 11 piece band, with folk revival heroes Spiers and Boden at the core, have a breadth of instruments and talents to embrace a wide range of musical styles and forge them into one coherent, glorious whole.

The music here is a joyful celebration of British music, ranging from folk through to a touch of 20's swing. It's ambition is huge, but not beyond the talents of the musicians. It could so easily have been a confused mess, but it's brought off magnificently.

It's also good time music. The tempo is upbeat, and all the musicians seem to be enjoying themselves immensely, which adds to the experience.

I'm told that the band are even better live than on disk, if that's the case then they must be spectacular, and I can't wait to see them!

5 stars, recommended for any fans of British folk who are willing to listen to something a little different. I can't wait for the next album!
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on 24 September 2012
I'd heard about Bellowhead from raving friends, and raving friends are a category that can put you off something. Perhaps I should add that I used to be quite into popular and folk music in the 60s and 70s, but got out of the habit when my first child was born (1976). However, in the last year or so I've been going to a folk club as well as singing folk a capella with a few of the above-mentioned friends, so I decided to give Bellowhead a hearing, courtesy of a CD from the local library. Burlesque was the only CD there. I put it on and was stunned. This is for two main reasons. One is that their sound and repertoire reminded me of one of my favourite bands from the 70s, Steeleye Span; but Bellowhead have an extra edge provided by the wider range of instruments, especially the brass. The other reason is that Burlesque's tracks have a driving, focused, quality, so in your face, that it feels as if you're actually at a gig listening to them. This is a rare commodity. I feel qualified to say that because my experience of listening to visiting artists at the folk club has taught me that live music is usually a whole lot better than recorded music. In my enthusiasm I have bought copies of the CDs that the visiting artists bring with them. But listening to the CD (of exactly the same stuff) often turns out to be a disappointment compared with the live performance. So hats off to Bellowhead. I've now bought Burlesque and will be buying more.
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on 31 October 2011
I came to Bellowhead backwards, as it were, through Hedonism. That is an amazing album, full of brilliant musical ingenuity. But ultimately I have found it unremittingly dark and bleak. I am a bloke too, but there's more to life than shades of black and grey.

Apart from Fakenham Fair, Matachin didn't do it for me at all.

Burlesque has every bit as much musicality as Hedonism, but the faster or bleaker tracks are balanced by slow tempo stuff that is really beautiful. Yes, I know it's very un-cool to like anything lovely these days, but I do. Although I treasure every track on this CD, I find myself waiting impatiently for Courting Too Slow, One May Morning Early and The Outlandish Knight to come round again.

Courting Too Slow deserves special mention because it is exquisite on every count. Jon Boden's singing, and the sensitive instrumental arrangement, are perfect. I'm really surprised earlier reviewers haven't singled it out.
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on 26 February 2013
Finally got this debut album having previously acquired albums 3,2 & 4 in that order and have to say I wish I'd started here as it's probably the easiest 'way in' to the recorded work of the band . There are some great tunes on here with 'Across the Line' a personal favourite.

On 'Burlesque', individual instruments (or perhaps no more than 3 or 4!) seem to take their turn, with Spiers' melodion often to the fore, and this makes it less of an assault on the senses to the newcomer than the triumphant riotous sounds on 'Hedonism' or 'Broadside'.

For that reason it perhaps also loses some of the energy of those later recordings, but 'Burlesque' has its own charm and should not be ignored.
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on 1 February 2007
This is just an astonishing album;

I bought their debut recording EP Onymous but that was a mere starter of smoked salmon to this which is the biggest banquet one could ever imagine.

The textures and sounds are ground breaking fusing as they do folk with jazz and all other styles in between and has to be heard to be believed.

Buy it and dare to say it is derivative
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I'm currently disturbing the office stomping away to this while trying to write some software. Wow. Incredible. Big band English folk sums it up. Luckily, there's a mellow track which means the office floor has had a brief respite from the stomping. Uh-Oh, here we go again... Prepare to die, floortiles!

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on 1 October 2006
Wow! Just turn this up loud and try to keep your feet (or anything else) still...

A worthy follow-up to E.P.Onymous, with some brilliant tunes and amazing arrangements, this is an excellent first full album. Not yet totally convinced by Flash Company (half the time it sounds perfect, the other half I'm less sure) and I'm not sure about the programming - Death & The Lady may not be the best finale - but other than that my only criticism is that it makes me want to spend more on hi fi to listen even louder, even better.
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on 10 April 2014
Nearly 50 years go a band broke on the scene, merging folk with pop/rock in a way that every other artist had to pay attention to. That band was of course Fairport Convention, featuring the genius of Richard Thompson. It is the only comparison I can think of to Bellowhead, and the arrangement genius Jon Boden. Bellowhead are quite simply the standard which every other band in the field must now measure themselves by.
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