A Review of the Pete Castle CD
"Poor Old Horse"
"Poor Old Horse"
by Pete Castle
Steel Carpet Music MATS 026
This review is written by Dai Woosnam, firstname.lastname@example.org, 5/08
<>I have to start this review with an admission. And it is this: I
was once a real fan of the English folk artiste Pete Castle, until I
caught the variant of “What's The Life Of A Man” he was singing. It so
lacked the poetry of Cyril Tawney's mainstream version, that as a
result, I never quite gave my unbridled enthusiastic support to
Popeluc, his family trio that shone quite brightly in the late 90s and
did so much to spread the message of Romanian folk music to us here in
But I am determined to put that slight animus of mine behind me and give this CD a fair wind.
Pete is joined on this album by - the increasingly popular in their own
right - Sarah Matthews and Doug Eunson (on strings and melodeon
respectively, and vocals), Edmund Hunt (whistle and Northumbrian
pipes), and Sue Castle on additional vocals.
There are a couple of stories from Pete (he is an ace storyteller) and
the rest of the tracks are – all except one – well known English
ballads (though not necessarily the best-known variants). The exception
however is a set of words he has set to an Appalachian tune—the
Dreadful Wind and Rain. But the words are English in origin, so maybe
we can thus claim ALL the songs to be hailing from Old Albion. And
these words could hardly be MORE English: if I tell you that the song
is titled “When That I Was A Little Tiny Boy”, and if those words seem
familiar to Shakespeare buffs out there, then that's because they were
penned by The Immortal Bard and sung by Feste, the jester, at the end
of Twelfth Night.
It was the standout musical track for me. But I also very much enjoyed
his version of Firelock Stile (from the singing of Harry Cox). And that
said, I should add that there was nothing here on this CD for me NOT to
enjoy. His accompanists do the thoroughly professional job one expects,
and one gets up from the table feeling one has not remotely been
Keen-eyed readers will note I inserted the word “musical” into the
first line of the last paragraph! That is because, by some distance,
the cut that did most for me was the first of his stories: a compelling
little tale called “Like Meat Loves Salt”. He says in his helpful liner
notes, “this was expanded from a fragment collected in Derbyshire by
I cannot get that story out of my head.
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