A Review of the Johnny Dickinson CD
"Hilo Town"


"Hilo Town"
by Johnny Dickinson

HARCD0004
Copyright Hard Road Recording 2006
www.johnnydickinson.com

This review is written by Dai Woosnam, daigress@hotmail.com, 3/07

I was talking to someone yesterday whose opinion on matters relating to the UK Folk Scene, I respect. And she asked me what I was reviewing right now.

I mentioned Johnny Dickinson amongst others.The name registered alright: she'd bought a previous album. I asked her what she thought.

She was very complimentary, but then added “but of course he is a bit derivative”. Eh? As if “derivative” is a pejorative word! Have you ever realised how much work you have to put in at the coal face to truly BE “derivative”? And anyway, isn't every artiste (apart from maybe a true genius like a Stravinsky, Picasso or a Django Reinhardt) inevitably derivative?

But that said, I now have to say that this album is one of the LEAST derivative albums I have heard in a long while. (Even though it could well have been exactly the opposite. After all, it is an album of numbers from the Tradition: pieces all made varying-degrees-of-famous by celebrated performers in the past.)

But Johnny sets out NOT to do cover versions: instead he bravely attempts to do re-workings of every piece. And of course, the question is: “do they come off”?

The answer is a qualified “yes”. I say “qualified”, because although these re-workings are respectful of the originals (and are never “taking the proverbial”, like say Dylan doing his own “Blowin' In The Wind” as a Trenchtown original), one wonders why Johnny felt the sheer need to re-work some of them? (Of course, maybe he did not: maybe he just sensed that you cannot do things by halves. Half an album of re-workings may be better than none, but it would leave the purchaser feeling vaguely cheated.)

So Johnny gives us the full monty. And I have to say, at all times exudes good taste. And the four fellow-musicians that make up his ensemble, never once let him down.

Some tracks I enjoyed a lot. The Diz Disley type approach to “The Drunken Piper” – the opening track - set the tone for what was to follow. And as he starts, he ends: with an instrumental. For the closing track has him showing his mastery of slide guitar in a lyric-free version of “Ye Banks And Ye Braes”.

But the standout track is his quirkiest. Turning (Tae) “A Beggin I Will Go”, into a mariachi special. Suddenly I am in the Zocolo in Mexico City. And yet, he succeeds in capturing the song's soul.

To sum up: this is an album that may not pull up any major trees, but will definitely add to Johnny Dickinson's growing reputation, throughout Britain and beyond.

Dai Woosnam
Grimsby, England
daigress@hotmail.com


Copyright © 1998-2015 Kevin & Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews. All rights reserved.

Ownership, copyright and title of this UK folk music CD review belongs to Dai Woosnam. Ownership, copyright and title are not transferable or assignable to you or other parties regardless of how or if you or other parties use, copy, save, backup, store, retrieve, transmit, display, publish, modify or share the CD review in whole or in part. Please read the "Terms, Conditions and Disclaimer" section on my web site for additional information about using, quoting, or reprinting this CD review.

Return to Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews home page.

To return to the last web page you visited, click the "Back" button that appears immediately below: