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Saturday, 20th April 2019
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Blackbeard's Tea Party - Whip Jamboree

Blackbeards tea partyAs the opening bars of Whip Jamboree, the latest album from Blackbeard's Tea Party pulse through the speakers, the thought goes through your head that this is not going to be a laid back affair.  So it proves, with a guitar break in The Valiant Turpin that borders on shred.  Still, it gives your reviewer a chance to use the word 'raucous' without being derogatory.

The tempo goes up a notch with Devil in the Kitchen, the first of several instrumentals that's two tunes, Kitchen Girl and Devil in the Haystack melded together.  Blackbeard's Tea Party are available for ceilidhs as well as conventional concerts. You might want to go into training before attending.  Either that or pace yourself and have a lie down between numbers.

Bulgine sees the band at their best.  It's atmospheric and with a real sense of drama in the long intro.  Top stuff.

Most folkies will be familiar with Steeleye Span's Long Lankin.  It's about three days long with crashing guitars, big harmonies and a sweet melody that counterpoints the gruesome subject matter.  The same song is presented here, titled more simply as Lankin, and a different, more brutal approach is taken, with a neat pinch of black humour when Lankin's accomplice, the false nurse tries to tempt the lady of the house downstairs by doing unspeakable things to her infant, with hubby away from home

I've tried him with Apple,
I've tried him with pear,
Come down here my lady
and rock in your chair.

Junior isn't protesting about the cuisine.  It's more that he's being stabbed with pointy objects. The sleeve notes helpfully explain that Lankin is a wronged builder who's able to able to turn into vapour and seep through cracks in the wall, which may make you think twice about that new extension, at least if you have children and take frequent business trips. You'll probably take more care with the hired help too.

So far, so good, but then the album disappears up it's own arse with Polka Against the Clock which doesn't have enough variation to justify lasting seven and a half minutes.  The Four Hour Shovel isn't long. It just seems like it.  Both tracks have too much that sounds like incidental music from Lord of the Dance.  By now this listener was starting to lose interest and not even extreme muckiness in the form of Landlady, a reworking of Jake Thackray's the Lodger, could lift the mood.

That's a real shame given the quality of the first half dozen tracks.  Whip Jamboree is still worth seeking out for those, and there's no doubt that Blackbeard's Tea Party are very fine musicians with a sound all their own, but perhaps that's the problem.  They are aware of that too. This isn't to suggest any conceit.  It's just easy to forget there's an audience when getting into the groove with like minded individuals. This could have been an exceptional album.  It's been undone by self-indulgence.


Blackbeard's Tea Party

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