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4.5 out of 5 stars37
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 2 August 2012
Words cannot express the beauty of this music. Unlike the previous commentator, I also live in the North East and The Unthanks with Brighouse at the Cambridge Folk Festival was one of the greatest live musical experiences of my life and from the ecstatic reaction of the audience I was not alone. Brass and folk is a terrific blend. Please, please let us have more of this.
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on 6 August 2012
When all else is failing "folk music" sometimes makes a leap forward by not looking in what direction it leaps. This is an awesome album, I can't tell you why, to me it comes from somewhere sort of familiar, but its fired out of a cannon. It kind of make a noise that will give you goose pimples, buy it, put your headphones on and let it kind of lift you. I never expected brass and voice to do this.
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on 18 August 2012
I've been a fan of Rachel and Becky Unthank since the days of The Winterset and have managed to catch them in concert on a couple of occasions. This diversion however, doesn't work as well as most reviewers suggest although there are some great moments on it. Unfortunately, there are some truly awful ones too such as Queen of Hearts and The Father's Suite. Last night I attended their concert at York Minster hoping to hear something of the quality recorded here at Leeds Town Hall and St George's Hall, Bristol but it was a disaster. The group were inaudible and the brass band was painfull to listen to. However, that is not the case here and I would recommend this CD to anyone who enjoys both musical genres, Folk songs and Brass Bands.
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on 5 August 2012
This is a most beautiful C. D. Starting off with David Sudbury's wonderful story of The King of Rome. When this was played at the BBC folk awards the audience went wild in their appreciation of the song, the singers and the magnificent Brighouse and Rastrick arrangement of the music. Add to it pieces by Ewan McColl and some of the best singing this side of Heaven and one has a magical mixture. C.D's like this don't come along very often so grab this piece of magic, sit back and enjoy.
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on 15 August 2012
And on that first point there's no doubt. It's one thing to arrive on the scene, and remain there by remaining resolutely in the zone that first got you fame. The Unthanks believe in going down new roads, the risky path, and all power to them that they do this, and by all accounts they're growing their fan base in the process. I've seen them live three times over the course of as many years, and each concert has been totally different to the previous one. Who knows where they go next? (well we know the immediate future, and I'm certainly looking forward to the shipyard songs).

And having said all that, I wish I could have liked this a little more. No doubting the quality of the musicianship, from both band and brass band. The King of Rome is a good start, though for me it won't replace June Tabor's sublime version. But there's room for more than one interpretation. I think the album sags considerably in the middle - I'm sure the father songs are of supreme significance to Adrian and Rachel, but to me they came across as a bit, well, unmemorable. Finally the tempo goes up - and it's not Rachel or Becky singing. And then the songs from The Bairns - strangely I find the Newcastle Lullaby the best of these, I say strange because I always regarded it as a bit of a throwaway track. For the others, well I declare my interest that The Bairns is my favourite album by this band, and I don't find any of them an improvement, much preferring the original piano based backing. And whilst I wouldn't go as far as the one negative reviewer so far, Farewell Regality does (to me) almost slow to a halt. I still remember the then still all-girl band playing that at a small folk club in Newbury, when it was a real anthem to round off a rousing concert.

The Unthanks have done an extraordinary number of good things in the past, and I've every confidence they'll do more in the future. But although this is undoubtedly a very pleasant album to listen to, for me it misses, for want of a better phrase, the fire in the belly that marks this band at its best. But like I say, never knock a band for trying something different, and to that extent, four stars is merited, even though it doesn't quite light my fire.
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on 7 May 2013
I came fairly late to The Unthanks but I'm now 4 albums into their catalogue and with each purchase I still find myself amazed at how stunning they can be when at their best.
I'm not generally a lover of folk music, more of a "boys with guitars" person, but there's just something indefinably beautiful about their combined voices. I'm also a novice in the brass band department, it only reminds me of the Hovis ad and Sunday afternoons in the park, and was unsure as how the two genres would combine (the blended names certainly don't work, brolk or forass!!) but they're remarkably well balanced.
The album opens with the beautifully poignant/uplifting "the King of Rome" which is a revelation, who'd have thought the story of a man, his pigeon and his dream could bring tears to your eyes?. The second track "Trimdon Grange Explosion" is a very sad song (the title gives it away) but is carried along by a lovely brass backing similar to a marching song you would hear on Last night at the Proms but the apparent clash of styles actually works wonderfully well.
I've only given 4 stars as they don't always get it right i.e the 4 songs making up "The Father's suite" are fairly lack lustre and what can i say about "Queen of Hearts"....Pimping The Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band up to sound like a house band on The Graham Norton show backing a Michael Buble soundalike is just toooo cruel and should not have been conscience-ed.
Those couple of moans aside, another wonderful diversion although i think if i had to choose i'd go for the "songs from the shipyard" option overall.
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on 30 July 2012
I saw them perform with the Brighouse and Rastrick Band at Cambridge Folk Festival where they played this set. I can only say that the music is sublime. I didnt realise how tenderly a Brass Band could play.

As this CD is a live version of the collaboration, it has all the intensity of the Cambridge performance. It really is too beautiful for words. Fragile but at the same time strong, if that isnt a contradiction. Rachel and Becky have such expressive voices.If you only buy one CD this year, then make it this one. You wont be disappointed.
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on 18 January 2013
Another superb experiment amnd branching out form the Unthanks. I loved it but you need to be in the mood. It is dark and solemn in some tracks so pick the right time to listen to it. B and R are superb accompaniment for this quirky duo.
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on 2 April 2013
The combination of a folk act and a brass band is one which will always work as both these areas of music are what is the music of the people.Though the Bobby Darin styled version of their previous song rather throws this album its still worth 5 stars.
The Diversion series sounds like a good idea but I don't think I'll bother with Vol 1 as I don't know the songs of Robert Wyatt or the other act.
If there's to be a further volume I whould think the songs of Paul McCartney would be very appropriate especially if they use the Black Dyke Mills Band
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on 12 March 2013
I bought this for my husband after he mentioned that he liked a track he heard on the Mark Radcliffe/ Stuart Maconie show on Radio 6. It is not often that I listen to cd from beginning to end on the first play but I fell in love with this from the first track which brought tears to my eyes. The voices and the sound made by the brass band is sublime. The stories told in the songs are easy to follow and so real to life. Not the usual sort of thing I go for but the music is full of emotion and is just wonderful.
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