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World Music CD Reviews Europe

ALAN BELL

By Rob Weir
Published June 27, 2006

The Definitive Collection
Greentrax

The grandiose title of this album notwithstanding, Alan Bell isn’t that well known outside of his native Lancashire. That is, not unless you’re a musician. Bell is one of those tireless heroes who work quietly to promote music: a veteran of skiffle bands, folk ensembles, and folk club management.  Even if they’ve not traveled widely, Bell compositions like “Windmills” and “Bread and Fishes” are staples in the northwest of England and most of his songs honor common people, like navies, Depression survivors, World War II vets, and fishermen. The music falls mostly into the genre of English country dance and song, but occasionally he throws a curve. “The Lakeland Fiddler” is as much Laredo as Lancaster, and quite a few arrangements have the heavy bass lines favored in Western Australia. For the most part, though, this collection captures music at its taproot: the local level.