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Keith Kendrick: Long Grey Beard And A Head That’s Bald (review)

February 10, 2018


SIMPLY ENGLISH - Long Grey Beard And A Head That's Bald
Private Label SPECD001

Well, for those of us who like their folk music same as their beer: clear, smooth, traditionally rooted and full bodied, there's really nothing not to like about this new offering from this ‘spiffering' Hungarian band. That is to say, Andy Rouse (lead vocal), being a thoroughbred Englishman and west country chappy to boot but, living very near Pecs for around 30 years, and the other two relatively younger and sparkling musicians: Bulcsu (guitar, ukulele, vocals) and Zsombor (fiddle, viola, mandolin, mando-cello, singing saw and vocals) both born and bred in Pecs - just about qualifies them as a Hungarian band...don't yer think? And we need to see more of them over here, too.

What is most delightful about this talented trio is their dogged determination to do all they can to popularise or, at least, inject the psyche of the Hungarian population with their own interpretation of English traditional music and song - something they have succeeded most admirably in doing over time. Call it a crusade if you like - I think it's a very healthy obsession, personally, that can, for me, spin out of control any time it likes. In particular, Andy's penchant and love for the English song is plain to see here and something to behold.

You will discover for yourselves (when you get your copy) just how consummate and musical these three are when they get together - Andy sits very comfortably and authoritatively in the frontline vocal with a strong baritone/bass voice and unique style of delivery whilst the other two mostly book-end him and provide a rock-steady and comfy musical bed for the songs to sit on. And their harmony vocals and intuitive arrangements are nothing to sniff at either. There is also much variety and light and shade in the content - both in the material and treatment-wise.

I don't have enough 'character quota' to effectively dissect the material/tracks, but suffice to say there isn't one track that won't draw you in to listen multiple times and every time you do, you will hear something you didn't hear before. My only whinge is that there isn't much representation of Hungarian music - but, I suspect that would kind of defeat the purpose of their union. That said, they make such a good job of the English stuff, my whinge is really quite superficial. All in all, a very worthwhile spin and purchase - get yer money out - you'll not regret it!

Keith Kendrick


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