Monkey See Monkey Do: The Night Out

They’ve self-released this, so if you like folk and are missing your favourite folk club, you should buy it on principle.

Happily, it’s also good; they play folk that sounds modern and traditional at the same time, and tells a good tale.

It opens with Pound A Week Rise; we Googled the lyrics and it was written by coal miner Ed Pickford but has been covered several times, not least by Dick Gaughan. It’s about miners going to see Lord Robens, the-then chairman of the National Coal Board and asking for a pay rise, only to be lied to. The words are those of a bitter miner, the music well-mannered but played fast, the fiddle leading the way.

The A and E Tunes follow, a more traditional sound, with two fiddles attacking the reel. There are no lyrics so we guess the title refers to notes (instead of being a sick note for the failings of the NHS) and it is possibly several similar tunes linked together. Other instrumentals include Farewell To Erin and Superfly, both lively dance tunes.

Like A Hobo, a 2009 song recorded by British singer-songwriter Charlie Winston, is given a French feel via accordion. It’s not about life on the road but being happy with what you’ve got: “I’ve never yearned for anybody’s fortune / The less I have the more I am a happy man,” says the narrator

Boozing and sea shanties see the album out: The Night Out And The Hangover is an instrumental, followed by Alexander The Great, a story of hopes (of being a pirate, “dreams of glory and plunder”) going bad after a drunken fight: “When you’re holding a hand grenade always stick to tea,” the lyrics note sagely. The album closes with a decent cover of What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor, the words modernised – “buy a round of drinks” / “cook him eggs” etc instead of “put him in a long boat” / “shave his belly with a rusty razor” before taking in other songs, nicking a variation on: “’Ah then were ye drunk or were ye blind / That ye left yer two fine legs behind?” from Mrs McGrath, for example.

Monkey See Monkey Do are doing nothing new but they do it well and it’s entertaining. Worth your money and you’re supporting grass roots music. On their Kickstarter page, they say they funded most of it by using revenue from gigs. See thatmonkeyband.co.uk

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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