Album review: HOME SERVICE – A New Ground

HOME SERVICE - A New Ground

Dotted Line [Release date 01.09.16]

If you want a band that takes up where Ashley Hutchings and the Albion Band left off then Home Service is your saviour.  Completely understandable as, in 1980, the band formed with members out of Hutchings’ band.  And it’s thirty years since the release of their last studio album.

Socially aware lyricism melded with traditional folk tunes and with sometimes jazzy and even rockier arrangements may sound like the proverbial musical hotch potch but the results are compulsive.  The album will appeal both to folk purists and those who like something a little more spiced whilst there are obvious comparisons with Fairport Convention.

With Graeme Taylor at the reins there is some read across to his Gryphon stylings as you might expect and as evidenced on ‘Kellingley’ and ‘The King’s Hunt’ which also features a coruscating Mike Oldfield-esque solo.

Perhaps the only off putting aspect of this album – for rock fans – is the typically fol-de-rol folk vocal of John Kirkpatrick (replacing the long-serving John Tams).  He doesn’t compromise and whilst a very good vocalist for this idiom is – for me – a bit too finger in the ear.

Highlights? There are many.  Opener ‘Kellingley’ sounds like The Early Music Consort if they’d gone a bit more jazz whilst ‘Wallbreaker’ adds proggy/pop touches with great effect and is perhaps the nearest  to a “single” if Home Service were ever to release one.  In truth, a whole album of this approach would be interesting.

Home Service disbanded in the mid-1980s (after recording the significant folk rock album ‘Alright Jack’) and after a brief sortie again in 1991 reformed more definitely ten years later.

 ’A New Ground’ is beautifully produced by Taylor; an eclectic album that needs a much wider audience and will no doubt be impressive when played live.  ****

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

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