Although it features only five tracks, E.P.Onymous still clocks up over 25 minutes of music - not far off some full albums in my collection. Even so, it's all over far too soon. There really is a lot of music on this disc, all played with real brio and panache. The 'big band' folk style is occasionally reminiscent of early Albion Band (if you like the 'BBC Sessions', you'll love this), whilst the prominent horns bring to mind La Bottine Souriante. Fans of the likes of Eliza Carthy, Brass Monkey and 70s Richard Thompson will also find lots to enjoy. As for the five tracks featured here, 'Rambling Sailor' is the most traditional-sounding folk song on display, whilst the instrumental 'Jack Robinson' sounds like a riot in a music shop, with the band showcasing pretty much every instrument they can find. 'Copshawholme Fair' brings to mind The Tiger Lilies with its slightly sinister fairground-style squeezeboxes. 'Rochdale Coconut Dance' is a foot-tapping ceilidh number with some great percussion, and closer 'Prickle-eye Bush' is a very entertaining 'story-song' with a ludicrously OTT brass section that sounds like the beginning of the Star Wars theme tune! In the end, though, this just sounds like a group of talented musicians having a bloody good time. Buy it, and you will too.
For those of you who haven't discovered the first full album by this band namely Burlesque this is the EP released whilst their many fans awaited that after their appearances at folk festivals up and down the land. Their infectious big band/ carnival band influenced music always got the audiences going and this is no exception.
The music although nominally British is played with tasters of music from elsewhere in the world a Mexican trumpet here, Russian there, Greek bouzouki there. You get the picture and the band meld the styles together in a pleasing mix.
This is a great introduction to the band and should be obtained by all their fans.
In a short space of time, this record showcases everything that's great about Bellowhead. There's excitement in Rambling Sailor, a couple of lively instrumental pieces displaying the impressive array of things they can play, and Copshawholme Fair is just superb. Boden's delivery is very strong on this EP, making it, in my opinion, the band's next best thing after Burlesque.
For anyone who hasn't seen Bellowhead, their live shows are something to behold. I suggest you seek them out wherever you can, but do it quickly as they soon sell out ! This EP length offering, their first release, is as near to a representation of their live show as anything they have done. Only 5 tracks, 2 of which are instrumentals, but not a dud amongst them. Of the instrumentals, The Rochdale Coconut Dance is a fantastic example of what they are capable of. A real show stopper. Prickle-Eye bush is a fans favourite at shows, but my own choice for best track is Copshowholme Fair, on which Jon Boden's vocals excel. This is the best possible introduction to the Band. Give it a go !
The title of this revies says it all: "Copshawholme Fair" is an amazing track! Starting off like a normal Bellowhead track it imediatly becomes powerful and Boden's voice, as ever, pours out fantastically.
The first two tracks on the EP, "Rambling Sailor" and "Jack Robertson" are brilliant, "Rambling Sailor" itself is very exciting.
In all this is a good EP, and it matches "Burlesque" for talent and flair.
This was the first point of contact for me with the spectacular Bellowhead, a generous ep with three songs and two instrumentals to stir up a swell of interest in this out-standing band.
Bellowhead arrived like firecrackers on a fascinating, magical yet sometimes sparkle-free folk-scene, they were brimming with invention and propelled by a driving ambition to match their collective talent. Here was something fresh and outrageous, a magpie of a band happy to steal ideas from far-flung places, yet with a firm footing in the tradition and folklore of England.
The first salvo on E.P.Onymous is Rambling Sailor, Jon Boden entering stage left on a bed of brooding drones, singing with gusto and conviction bringing to mind some loud-mouthed drunken sailor waking up a sleeping seaside town in the depths of the night. Then suddenly everything bursts into colour with brash brass and a lolloping rhythm, and swooping strings, and the symbiosis of the members of this band becomes apparent as they swirl along... Fantastic stuff!
The two instrumentals remind me loosely of Brass Monkey and Blowzabella in exuberant flow. I can picture outlandish ritual dancers swirling up a storm on normally serene village greens, but there is more going on in this music than the typical musicians for a morris side can conjure.
My favourite track is Copshawholme Fair - still I think one of Bellowhead's greatest moments, if not their best track so far - which evokes the setting with eloquence and attention to little details, that give the song a bewildering array of intricacies to take in, like this is the first time you've been to Copshawholme Fair and everywhere you look there's spectacle and strange people and you just want to gawp in awe at everything. And the singing is great and the tune is a beauty.
Prickle-eye Bush, which closes the set, at first startles, the jaunty tune and melodrama of the brass seemingly at odds with the storyline. In that I am reminded of some of Martin Carthy's work. At any rate, getting over the initial hiccup was easy as pie, I soon came to love this one too!
E.P.Onymous is a real delight, and deserving of 5 stars, which I happily bestow, but Burlesque (their first full-length album) is bigger and better still, the band growing in all directions for a stunning follow-up to this ep. E.P.Onymous is highly recommended, Burlesque is practically essential in my book!
There is something special about Bellowhead. And there is something special about this album too. It is a really good fun album. Some reviewers seem uncertain if this is a folk album or not. I suppose it doesn't really matter. But in the true sense of the word it is a folk album since folk music is a living tradition that is always changing, finding new expression and taking on new influences. And what you get here is an interesting mix of musical influences interpreting folk songs. There are influences such as Brass, jazz, funk and rock to name just a few elements. Other reviewers think of this as contempory folk, which it is in the sense it was created in the present era, but in fact it has all been done before. (folk rock, folk pop, blues folk, Steeleye, Fairport or Brass Monkey). However this is worthy of a very special place as an exciting development of classic recodings.