The Good Old Way is out now! Listen to it on your favourite site here.
The Good Old Way mixes the tune of the song made legendary in 1975 by The Watersons and a more danceable adaptation from John of the Green popularised by Leveret, with a rambunctious viola part thrown in for good measure, played by Deb Chalmers.
The Good Old Way is a hymn from the Isle of Man. It's an excellent example of how a song or tune can develop as it is passed between different peoples. I believe the song first appeared in Manx chapels during the 1700's and was adopted by 'Primitive Methodists', as is pointed out in 'For Pence and Spicy Ale' the first of several Watersons' albums to feature the song, it traveled to America where it 'acquired a "Hallelujah" chorus'. In this form it made its way back to England and in the 1820's was printed in the Ranters' songbook, 'Hymns and Spiritual Songs'. (I haven't really got my head around how 'Ranters' and 'Primitive Methodists' are linked, from my very cursory reading on the subject, my impression is that the Ranters were a political movement that shared some of the Wesleyan theology of the Primitive Methodists.)
To quote the fabulous Miranda Rutter, (Miranda is the fount of all the best gobbets, and I believe is herself quoting Chris Wood) "tunes don't carry passports"
The first version of The Good Old Way very closely resembles that of The Watersons. This single is shortened for radio play and doesn't linger on this version, instead quickly moving on to John Offord's reworking from his eminent collection, 'John of the Green: The Cheshire Way', which I learnt directly from Leveret's fantastic rendition. As the track gathers momentum, like train engine steadily building up speed, the flute takes the main theme and the pulse begins to bob. Both elements have a thick texture, featuring bold counter melodies spread across accordion, fiddle, flute and guitar.
The track finishes with an original three-two hornpipe, Ultra Breath, the tempo jumps up as the accordion takes charge before counter melodies once again fly from flute and viola, the guitar keeping pulse to stop the train from running away.
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Accordion - Nat Brookes
Viola - Deb Chalmers
Flute -Sam Partridge
Guitar - Tom Evans
Arrangement - Nat Brookes
Recording and Mixing - Josh Clark
Mastering - Nick Cooke
Photography and Graphic Design - Elly Lucas