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Head of Steam

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Album Review

Back after a while with a slightly revised lineup, with Paul Archibald seamlessly replacing the late Howard Evans, Brass Monkey do what they do so well — taking traditional music and songs and giving them a brass bite. The vocal duties are split between the venerable John Kirkpatrick and Martin Carthy, with Kirkpatrick's relatively straightforward style working better here than Carthy's idiosyncratic delivery. As always, the choice of material is exemplary and unusual, with some great pairings of tunes and songs, as on "Nelson the Fallen Hero/The Death of Nelson," while old chestnuts get a reworking, such as "The Trees They Do Grow High," which gets a new (albeit really old) vocal melody. The instrumentals are wonderful, where the brass (and harmonica) really get a chance to shine, rather than just the necessary punctuations they bring to the songs, and there's even Morris dance music with a twist on one set. All in all, it's a very welcome and creative return, and a remarkably big sound for a five-piece.


Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Brass Monkey was a most unusual and appealing English folk group. Composed of Martin Carthy (guitar, mandolin, vocals), John Kirkpatrick (squeezeboxes, vocals), Howard Evans (trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals), Martin Brinsford (saxophone, mouth-organ, percussion), and depending on the date, either Roger Williams or Richard Cheetham (trombone), they were a powerful and commanding...
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Head of Steam, Brass Monkey
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