Let's face it when push comes to shove I'm not over fond of unaccompanied singing with a handful of notable exceptions. Apart from Country Joe of the Fish fame we have English Tapestry. Rest assured it is not just the fact that they nearly live in Essex that attracts me.

English Tapestry were (still are?) Ruth and Brian Brittain and James Eisner, formed in 1970 and described by the honourable Irwin in the Melody Maker as "the guv'nors of harmony singing". I've never been big in the finer points of musical terms so I can best describe them as both entertaining and having a lot of 'ooomph'.Their own,miserable by comparison, attempt to explain what made them different goes as follows:

"Is it the variety of music they perform, the diverse arrangements or the contrasting singing styles? Possibly all of these,  but getting a little closer,  it's the choice of material carefully matched harmonies and the expertise of the singing.

Take a typical programme. Apart from a wide range of traditional English songs, there are contemporary songs, perhaps a 'classical' transcription, some jazz, a tongue in cheek thirties' number; in fact, anything goes. Some songs are warm and flowing, others harsh and discordant. Some arrangements simple and uncluttered (often deceptively so),others complex enough to require computer analysis! The singing is dynamic and polished and as for those tricky arrangements just hang on to one of the parts and try to follow it through an obstacle course of syncopation, leaps, chromatics and key changes - and then ask 'where do I breath?' "

So enough to make you spill your beer or as I said in the first place a lot of oomph!


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