The very thing for these difficult times, a new Edward II recording, brimming with sunshine, good time intentions, infectious melodies and a definite party intention. But this is different: I suppose it was only a matter of time before E II turned their attention to the folk songs of Jamaica, after all they explored Manchester’s balladry last time out, so at least there’s a balance in terms of their sources.
Discovering the collection of Walter Jekyll must have been like unearthing treasures, this is music that E II were meant to play. They do so here with a natural ease and grace putting over the origins of the material in a danceible way so that the impact of hearing Caribbean songs and melodies is instantly appealing. Delayed by unavoidable circumstance, rumours of this collection first reached my ears years back, but the wait was worth it, without doubt. They even rescue a handful of standards along the way, ‘Yellow Bird,’ ‘Island in the Sun,’ and ‘Banana Boat Song,’ relieved of their dated nostalgia. No need to raise a quizzical eyebrow though as within the mix there are the usual references to English tunes as well.
So let’s talk music. ‘Dry Weather Houses,’ opens the account in glorious fashion, for a song which Gavin Sharp informs me concerns substandard housing, there’s a tongue cheek lyric and infectious groove, if this doesn’t move your feet, you’re dead! Likewise ‘Long Time Girl,’ and ‘Hold ‘Em Joe,’ (the single) which shift and shuffle in delightful wrap around tunes, Glenford Latouche’s voice has never been put to better use, he’s revels in singing these songs.
‘Cordelia Brown,’ is addictive and bounces about the place with glorious brass and zig zag lyrics, the percussion glides, Simon Care’s squeezebox wheezes, there’s a fab guitar solo in the midsection from- I’m guessing here- Jon Moore. Just perfect. ‘Linstead Market,’ gets the vote as Candidate For Radio Play,’ it oozes class from start to finish, the words describing a failed market outing to sell fruit have an ironic tone as the backing is so up tempo and seductive.
Look, to be blunt this is the finest album I’ve heard so far this year and will more than likely still hold that high praise come the end of 2021 too. Five stars and no mistake, ‘Dancing Tunes,’ is sensational and essential at the same time. Quality.