Slipcue.Com Celtic & UK Folk Guide

Bassist Ashley Hutchings founded three of the most influential bands in the British folk-rock scene, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, and the Albion Band, which has remained his main group since the mid-1970s. Frankly, the interconnections between all these band is a little too complicated for me to keep track of, although there are people out there who actually can keep it all straight. (See Links section below...) Although Hutchings flitted back and forth between innumerable projects, this page is a quick look at his major solo and Albion-related albums. For information on other albums, check out the reviews listed under other artists, elsewhere in this guide.




Discography

Shirley Collins & The Albion Country Band "No Roses" (Pegasus, 1971)
Singer Shirley Collins created a veritable English folk dynasty when she gathered together the Albion Country Band, wherein Ashley Hutchings, Richard Thompson, Simon Nicol, John Kirkpatrick, along with Lal and Mike Waterson, Maddy Prior and Royston Wood (late of The Young Tradition) all back Collins up on one of her best albums. As ever, Collins's voice is an aquired taste, but if you enjoy her already, then this is the album to get. On "Murder Of Maria Martin," Collins finds an epic ballad to give "Matty Groves" a run for its money. Nic Jones pitches in on that tune as well... In fact, this album is so packed with Brit-folk luminaries, it's actually a bit boggling. Richard Thompson's presence looms heavy on the whole project -- a blessing for his fans as well. After this, the Albion Band took on a life of its own, primarily led by Ashley Hutchings. Shirley Collins joined them again from time to time (on albums noted below), but the Albion history begins here... An album well worth searching out.


Ashley Hutchings/Various Artists "Morris On" (Island/Carthage, 1972)
A silly and affectionate homage to the ancient art of Morris dancing, featuring the varied and considerable talents of Ashley Hutchings, John Kirkpatrick, Richard Thompson, Dave Mattacks and other Fairport-related folkies. I'm no expert on Morris dancing, but I gather it's a medieval pagan fertility ritual which had all but died out before being documented by folklorists and revived during the early 20th Century. It eventually became for trad music/Renaissance Fair crowd what line dancing is to honkytonk country -- a bit silly, but a vital part of the scene. This is an odd album, in that sometimes the band dashes these traditional songs out in an offhand, occasionally fragmentary fashion, as if their affection for the material were enough to explain the lapses... Still, this is lovely stuff -- great old story-songs, obviously intended to entertain a liquored-up audience, and full of bouncy, Steeleye Span-ish rhythms and loping melodies. The salacious "Cuckoo's Nest" is particularly fun. Recommended.


The Albion Band "Battle Of The Field" (Harvest/Beat Goes On, 1973)
This time it's guitarist Martin Carthy who steers the band, along with Sue Harris, John Kirkpatrick, Simon Nicol and of course Hutchings as well. Carthy is in the limelight as the album's primary vocalist, but this is clearly a group effort, with a fun, pleasant, playful feel througout. The loping beat of the country dances fills this disc, a bit goofy-sounding if you're disinclined, but if you're into it, it's only one of this album's many charms. Certainly one of the best of the Albion albums, and well worth tracking down!


Ashley Hutchings/John Kirkpatrick/Various Artists "The Compleat Dancing Master" (Island, 1974)


Etchingham Steam Band "Etchingham Steam Band" (Fledg'ling, 1974/1995)
An Albion spin-off with Shirley and Dolly Collins in on the fun. Although this album was recorded in 1974, it was not released until '95.


Ashley Hutchings "Rattlebone & Ploughjack" (Island/Beat Goes On, 1976)
An odd, Morris dance-related album, equal parts spoken word, ambient sound and folk music.


Ashley Hutchings "Son Of Morris On" (Harvest, 1976)


Ashley Hutchings "Kickin' Up The Sawdust" (Harvest/Beat Goes On, 1977)


The Albion Dance Band "The Prospect Before Us" (Harvest, 1977)
One of a long line of Albion/Etchingham-related albums featuring Shirley Collins, Simon Nicol and Collins's onetime husband, Ashley Hutchings. Albion was an enlarged, electrified version of the Etchingham band, with a determined devotion to ceilidh, or country dance material. It's a lot more upbeat and playful than most of Collins' own material, with a thumping downbeat and overall clompy good-nature. A bit goofy, sure, but good clean fun along the same lines as the various "Morris On" albums that Hutchings had produced with all their folk-prog cohorts. This album even features a few live tracks, which give a pretty good idea of just how good this group was, even outside of the studio. May wear a bit thin after a while, but it's still a nice, fun record.


The Albion Band "Rise Up Like The Sun" (Harvest, 1978)
Drifting into proggier, rockier territory, Hutchings, Nicol and an all-star cast still have some charming sing-along tunes, but many tunes on here will test the patience of all but the most loyal fans. Richard Thompson apparently doesn't actually play the guitar on this album (although he does sing in the chorus on one track), but his stylistic influence is heavily felt in the long, loping leads of several songs. A mixed bag; about one-third groovy, two-thirds groany.


Kevin Dewhurst & The Albion Band "Lark Rise To Candleford: A Country Tapestry" (Charisma, 1980)


The Albion Band "Light Shining" (Albino, 1982)


The Albion Band "Shuffle Off" (Spindrift, 1983) (LP)


The Albion Band "Under The Rose" (Spindrift, 1984) (LP)


The Albion Band "A Christmas Present From The Albion Band" (Fun/Tracer, 1985)


The Albion Band "Stella Maris" (Making Waves, 1987)


The Albion Band With Chris Bains "The Wild Side Of Town" (Celtic Music, 1987)


The Albion Band "I Got New Shoes" (Spindrift, 1988)


Albion Band '89 "Give Me A Saddle, I'll Trade You A Car" (Topic, 1989)


The Albion Band "1990" (Topic, 1990)


The Albion Band "Captured" (HTD, 1994)
Various early '90s recordings.


The Albion Band "Acousticity" (HTD, 1993)


Ashley Hutchings "As You Like It" (HTD, 1994)


The Albion Band "Albion Heart" (Making Waves, 1995)


Ashley Hutchings & Friends "The Guv'nor's Big Birthday Bash" (HTD, 1995)


Ridgeriders "Ridgeriders: Songs Of The Southern English Landscape" (HTD, 1995)
Ridgeriders "In Concert" (Talking Elephant, 1996)

Yet another Ashley Hutchings/Albion side project, this time a collection of songs written for the popular mid-1990s TV show, Ridegerunners, which explored the local nooks and crannies of the southern English countryside, by way of the ancient ridge roads which have radiated outwards from Salisbury Plain since ancient times. Some of the songs sound traditional, but are actually written by Hutchings and his partners on this project, Phil Beer and Chris While. Generally speaking, I prefer Beer and Hutchings' vocals, While's singing is a bit too mannered and her sensibilities a bit sugary for my tastes. But on the whole, this is a surprisingly vigorous, rewarding project. The concert album repeats about half the songs that appear on the first album, adding many others based on the local histories and lore of the region. Worth checking out!


The Albion Band "Demi Paradise" (HTD, 1996)


The Ashley Hutchings Dance Band "A Batter Pudding... For John Keats" (HTD, 1996)


The Albion Band "Happy Accident" (HTD, 1998)


The Albion Band "Wings" (HTD, 1998)


The Albion Band "Before Us Stands Yesterday" (HTD, 1999)


The Albion Band "Christmas Album" (HTD, 1999)


Ashley Hutchings/Various Artists "Street Cries" (Topic, 2001)


The Albion Band "Road Movies" (Topic, 2001)
Admittedly, the lads are getting a bit long in the tooth, even as Hutchings and pals bring in some youngsters to add a bit of youthful pizazz. Fiddler Joe Broughton is one of the driving forces (and primary songwriters) on this disc, and vocalist Kellie While is the band's new discovery... Can't say I care much for her voice, though -- the tone is a little irritating, and the inflections are "folkie" in a more modern confessional, singer-songwriter-y way. Longtime fans may be more forgiving, but this really didn't wow me.


Ashley Hutchings/Various Artists "Grandson Of Morris On" (Topic, 2002)


Ashley Hutchings "Human Nature" (Talking Elephant, 2003)


Ashley Hutchings & The Rainbow Future "A Brilliant Light" (Secret Records, 2005)


The Albion Band "Another Christmas Present From The Albion Band" (Talking Elephant, 2010)




Best-Ofs

The Albion Band "BBC Sessions" (BBC/Strange Fruit, 1974)
Live performances on the Beeb, featuring several different classic lineups of the Albion crew, with heavy hitters such as Martin Carthy, Shirley Collins, Simon Nicols and John Kirkpatrick coming to the fore amid a cast of thousands. These 1973-78 recordings capture the band in its prime, and has plenty of really fun stuff on it... The first set of tracks are pretty rough -- the sound mix seems off -- but as the album goes along, it really picks up steam, and some of the final tracks, such as "Postman's Knock" and a lively version of Richard Thompson's "Time To Ring Some Changes," are as fun as anything else that came out of thee olde English elves-and-serf music scene. Recommended!


The Albion Band "Songs From The Show" (Albino, 1990)
Originally a cassette-only release, this later came out on CD in 1992 -- this mostly features '80s concert recordings. (See below.)


The Albion Band "Songs From The Show, v.2" (Albino, 1991)
Originally a cassette-only release, this later came out on CD in 1992 -- this mostly features '80s concert recordings. (See below.)


The Albion Band "Live In Concert" (BBC, 1993)
Beeb recordings from two shows, in 1977 and 1982.


The Albion Band "Live At The Cambridge Folk Festival" (BBC/Strange Fruit, 1996)
Beeb recordings from two shows, in 1977 and 1987.


Ashley Hutchings "The Guv'nor" (Wildcat, 1996)
Rarities and archival recordings from one of the stalwarts of the Fairport/Albion Country Band axis... This disc has a lot of lovely stuff, featuring notable vocal performances by Sandy Denny, Maddy Prior, Richard Thompson, and others. Some tracks have iffy, cassette recorder-y sound quality, on others you can hear the goof or miscue that consigned it into the dustbin. But mostly, this is pretty nice stuff. Worth tracking down if you're a fan!


Ashley Hutchings "The Guv'nor, v.2" (HTD, 1996)
More rarities and live recordings from Hutchings's closet shelves... This batch of unreleased tracks features much choppier sound quality than the first volume, particularly in the earliest stuff (but since it's Fairport material, I'm sure fans will forgive them...) It also has some iffy, occasionally treacly, material from later incarnations of the Albion Band. Great for diehard fans, but rough going for the casual listener.


Ashley Hutchings "The Guv'nor, v.3" (Castle, 1999)
I haven't heard either of these later volumes in this archival series, but I'm including them in the list, nonetheless, for the benefit of the true Hutchings fanatic...


Ashley Hutchings "The Guv'nor, v.4" (Castle, 2002)


The Albion Band "The Acoustic Years: 1993-1997" (Castle, 1997)


The Albion Band "Songs From The Shows" (Road Goes On Forever, 1997)
I believe this 2-CD set collects both of the Songs albums together...


The Albion Band "Along The Pilgrim's Way" (Mooncrest, 1998)


The Albion Band "Albion Sunrise -- HTD Recordings: 1994-1999" (HTD, 1999)


Ashley Hutchings "Along The Downs: The Countryside Collection Album" (Mooncrest, 2000)
Two things bother me about this collection, which covers 1977-1998 (leaning, I suspect, more heavily towards the present...) The first is the music, which is often a bit too florid for my tastes, and the second is the vagueness of the liner notes, which doesn't indicate who plays on which songs, of when any of them were recorded. In particular, there are a few vocalists on here that I find rather irritating, and it would have been nice to know who that are, so that I could avoid them in the future. Okay, I admit I may be a bit harsh in my assessment, but I didn't enjoy listening to this disc... Others might like it better.


The Albion Band "Heritage" (EMI, 2002)




Related Records

Yeesh! -- What isn't related to this band??




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