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Albion Country Band: Battle of the Field

Albion Country Band: Battle of the Field (Island HELP 25)

Battle of the Field
Albion Country Band

Island Records HELP 25 (LP, UK, April 1976)
Island Records ORL 8392 (LP, Italy, 1976)
Antilles AN 7027 (LP, USA, 1976)
BGO Records BGOCD 354 (CD, UK, 1997)

Albion Country Band: Battle of the Field (Island ORL 8392)

Engineered and produced by John Wood;
Recorded in 1973 at Sound Techniques Studio and Island Studio, St. Peter’s Square, London;
Album cover by Ian Logan Associates;
Photography by Keith Morris


Martin Carthy: vocals, acoustic guitar;
Sue Harris: vocals, oboe, hammered dulcimer;
Ashley Hutchings: vocals, electric bass guitar;
John Kirkpatrick: vocals, Anglo concertina, button accordion, melodeon, electric piano;
Simon Nicol: vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, electric dulcimer, synthesiser;
Roger Swallow: drums, percussion

Dave Mattacks: percussion [8];
Martin Nicholls, John Iveson, Colin Sheen and Paul Beer: sackbuts [5]


Side 1

  1. Albion Sunrise (2.55)
  2. Morris Medley: Mouresque / London Pride / So Selfish Runs the Hare (Roud 2455) / Maid of the Mill / Sheriff’s Ride (7.16)
  3. I Was a Young Man (Roud 1572; G/D 7:1291) (4.06)
  4. The New St. George / La Rotta (4.15)

Side 2

  1. Gallant Poacher (Roud 793; Laws L14) (4.26)
  2. Cheshire Rounds / The Old Lancashire Hornpipe (2.44)
  3. Hanged I Shall Be (Roud 263; Laws P35; G/D 2:200) (6.22)
  4. Reaphook and Sickle (Roud 1375) (2.47)
  5. Battle of the Somme (1.51)

Tracks 1-7 and 9: Albion Country Band, recorded 1973
Track 8: actually John Kirkpatrick & Sue Harris with Dave Mattacks, recorded 1976 (although credited to ACB)

All tracks trad. arr. Hutchings / Swallow / Kirkpatrick / Harris / Carthy / Nicol except
Tracks 1, 4a Richard Thompson,
Track 2 trad. arr. Nicol / Carthy / Hutchings

Notes by Tony Rees

This album was recorded in 1973 by the last incarnation of the Albion Country Band (not to be confused with later Albion Bands, Albion Dance Bands, etc. etc.), and was shelved by Island Records at the time because when the time came for its release, there was no band to promote it, the ACB having broken up in August 1973 and its members moved on to other projects. However over the following year or two the ACB legend grew and a few people clamoured for the album’s release (fuelled by the preview release of 2 tracks—Albion Sunrise and The New St. George—on the Karl Dallas compiled Electric Muse 4 album set in 1975), such that Island eventually released it on its budget HELP label in 1976. By that point, one track (All of a Row) was deemed unfit for inclusion as the band were not particularly happy with it and anyway, Martin Carthy had by then re-recorded it in a different arrangement for one of his solo albums. As the original ACB could not be re-convened, John & Sue Kirkpatrick (a.k.a. John Kirkpatrick and Sue Harris) quickly recorded a new track (Reaphook and Sickle) which was added to fill the vacant slot on the album, assisted by Dave Mattacks on percussion (and also hammered dulcimer tuning, according to John Kirkpatrick!).

Other songs and tunes featured by this incarnation of the Albion Country Band in concert (though not on record) included a pace-egging song Beg Your Leave, which introduced the band members one by one (the original song, from Overton in Lancashire, appeared in the Folk Song Journal in 1906, and can also be heard on the 1968 Topic album Deep Lancashire, sung by Pete Smith); Richard Thompson’s Nobody’s Wedding; I’ll Go and ’List for a Sailor, reprised from the Morris On sessions; and various morris tunes such as Lumps of Plum Pudding and William and Nancy, which were accompanied in concert by dancers from Albion Morris. These latter morris dance tunes eventually surfaced on John Kirkpatrick’s Plain Capers album in 1976.

Another version of one track (Harvest Home / The Gas Almost Works) from this incarnation of the ACB appears on Ashley Hutchings: The Guv’nor Vol. 3, and 4 tracks (The New St. George, I’ll Go and ’List for a Sailor, Hanged I Shall Be, and Harvest Home / The Gas Almost Works), recorded for the BBC in May 1973 appear on The Albion Band: The BBC Sessions, released in 1998 after only a 25 year wait!