Saturday, November 02, 2013

The Unthanks "Diversions Vol. 2: The Unthanks With Brighouse And Rastrick Brass Band" (2012)

I picked this up at that Unthanks singing weekend I was at in January. The Diversions series present live recordings of the Unthanks playing stuff a bit away from what you might think of as their standard repertoire. One volume saw them playing tunes written by Antony (of Antony And The Johnsons) and Robert Wyatt, an interesting pairing that ended with me saying "More Robert Wyatt!". Another served up the tunes they played at that concert about the shipyards of Newcastle.

This one, as the title suggests, sees the Unthanks team up with a brass band. I think the deal is that the record boasts new brassy arrangements of some old Unthanks favourites together with a few new tunes. The opening track, 'The King of Rome', begins with a stirring brass fanfare, but afterwards the brass is mostly a colouring for the songs rather than being overly fore-grounded (with an exception of a jazzy big band rearrangement of 'Queen of Hearts', a traditional tune that appeared previously on the Unthanks album Last).

I do not like this album as much as maybe I ought. To some extent, I prefer the Unthanks live rather than on record. But I think maybe the promise of the brass band is not fully realised. Or maybe I just wanted a different type of brass band, as the things that spring to my mind when brass is mentioned are the likes of New Orleans marching bands or the University of Southern California Trojans blasting out 'Tusk'. Though of course neither of these may actually have been suited to the Unthanks vocal style. With this record I can generally admire the tunes without actually liking them.

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An inuit panda production

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