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The Prospect Before Us

The Albion Dance Band: The Prospect Before Us (Harvest SHSP 4059)

The Prospect Before Us
The Albion Dance Band

Harvest SHSP 4059 (LP, UK, February 1977)
Harvest CDEMS 1476 (CD, UK, 1983)
Hannibal HNCD 1403 (CD, USA, 1993)
BGO Records BGOCD 486 (CD, UK, 5 October 2009)

Hopping Down in Kent / Merry Sherwood Rangers

The Albion Dance Band
Harvest HAR 5113 (single, UK, August 1976)

The Albion Dance Band: The Prospect Before Us (Hannibal HNCD 1403)

Album produced by Ashley Hutchings and Simon Nicol
Engineered by Vic Gamm
Recorded at Sound Techniques and Olympic No. 1, London, 1971
Tracks [2, 5, 8, 9, 14] were recorded at dances held in Olympic Studios in September 1976
Front cover design by Dave Dragon based on an idea by Pete Scrowther
Back cover design by William Dudley


Ashley Hutchings: leader, electric bass guitar, vocals;
Eddie Upton: caller, vocals;
Shirley Collins: vocals;
John Tams: vocals, melodeon;
John Rodd: concertina, tambourine, vocals;
Philip Pickett: curtals, shawms, recorders, crumhorns, bagpipes, rackets, chalumeaux, synthesiser;
John Sothcott: vielle, citole, crumhorn;
Simon Nicol: electric and acoustic guitars, piano;
Graeme Taylor: electric guitar, piano;
Michael Gregory: drums, nakers, percussion;
Dave Mattacks: drums, piano, electric piano


Side 1

  1. Uncle Bernard’s / Jenny Lind (3.48)
  2. The Hunt Is Up * (Roud V18819) (1.53)
  3. Varsovianna (2.49)
  4. Masque (1.00)
  5. Huntsman’s Chorus * (4.33)
  6. Minuet (2.05)
  7. Wassail Song (Roud 209) (2.35)
  8. Picking of Sticks / The Old Mole * (3.14)

Side 2

  1. Merry Sherwood Rangers * (3.21)
  2. La Sexte Estampie Real (1.50)
  3. I Wish I Was Single Again (Roud 437) (3.44)
  4. The Whim (3.28)
  5. Hopping Down in Kent (2.46)
  6. Horse’s Brawl (Bransle de Chevaux) * (3.42)

CD reissue bonus tracks

  1. On Christmas Night All Christians Sing (Roud 597) (3.34)
    session out-take; previously unreleased
  2. Merry Sherwood Rangers * (3.05)
    alternative take; used as single B-side

All tracks arranged by the Albion Band pub Songs of Polygram Int. Inc (BMI)


Tracks marked with * were recorded at dances held in Olympic Studios in September 1976.

Uncle Bernard’s / Jenny Lind

Two polkas paired by John Tams as a tribute to two fine country dance players, Bernard O’Sullivan of County Clare and the late Scan Tester of Sussex. Despite their culturally different upbringings, they both developed remarkably similar styles on their common instrument, the Anglo concertina. Scan Tester’s Jenny Lind is one of a number of tunes dedicated to an early superstar - Jenny Lind, a singer known as the “Swedish Nightingale”, who toured Britain in 1847.

The Hunt Is Up *

A tune for dancing known as early as the first part of the 16th century. The verses sunge here come from the time of Henry VIII. A “hunt’s up” came to be the name given to any tune intended to arouse in the morning. The old Christmas good luck visiting custom in Cumberland, Westmorland and the Isle of Man was known as “hunsupping”, doubtless due to the combination of music, cacophany and the unsociable hours of the visit.


Controversy surrounds the origin of this dance. On the one hand, ballroom dance experts generally accept that it was the invention of a Spanish teacher, Desire, who introduced it to Paris in about 1953. On the other hand, folk-dance writers assume a Scandinavian folk origin. Two versions of the tune were wedded together by Ashley Hutchings, the first from Harry Cockerill of Askrigg, Yorkshire, and the second from Hereford fiddler Stephen Baldwin.


One of John Adson’s Courtly Masquing Ayres (1621), a publication containing 35 pieces originally intended for a wide range of instruments - “for violons (violins), consorts and cornets”. Adson was a member of the London Waits (1614-40) and a prominent theatre musician. In Cavendish’s play The Country Captain (1631), when the drunk captain asks for music, a musician enquires: “Do you mean Master Adson’s new ayres, sir?”

Huntsman’s Chorus *

The tune comes from the playing of Stephen Baldwin; the dance from the Yorkshire Dales; and the verses from a mid-19th century broadside title The New Hunting Song. Assembly by Ashley Hutchings. Eddie Upton’s vocals were overdubbed after the live recording.


Composed by Henry Purcell (1659-95). And arrangement by Philip Pickett from the second part of Musick’s Hand-maid - a collection of keyboard pieces mostly by Purcell and John Blow, first published in 1689.

Wassail Song

One of a number of songs connected with the ancient mid-winter custom of wassailing. This took various forms - from the simple house-to-house good luck visit with the wassail bowl to the more bizarre shooting guns into apple trees or chanting to the bees in their hives.

Picking of Sticks / The Old Mole *

Two short tunes from the first edition of John Playford’s influential The Dancing Master, published in 1650. The dance is the ever popular “Circassian Circle”.

Merry Sherwood Rangers *

From the False Knight on the Road series of tunes. The dance is Jack the Lad, which includes some of the basic movements that were to make up the 1950s phenomen, the “Hand Jive” (as in Willie and the Hand Jive by Johnny Otis). This tune was brought to the Albion Dance Band by John Sothcott.

La Sexte Estampie Real

One of the eight estampies from Le Manuscrit du Roi, a large 13th century collection of Trouvere melodies. The estampie was the first couple dance in history, devised by the Troubadours to suit the ideals of courtly love. The dance tunes - said by clerics to have kept the minds of the populace from lascivious thoughts - are made up of several sections of differing length, each section repeated once with a different ending (i.e. Ax Ay Bx By Cx Cy etc.).

I Wish I Was Single Again

The fast-growing recording industry of the 1930s had a considerable effect on the repertoires of many country singers and musicians. This version was first recorded on a Regal Zonophone 78 by the Irish singer and melodeon player, Frank Quinn, who emigrated to America to become Highway Patrolman Frank Quinn, and appears on several records with picture labels resplendent in his uniform astride a Harley Davidson. This version, unlike Patrolman Quinn’s, is not in waltz form, though the story line is from Quinn. It was gathered during a session with a pub pianist in Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire.

The Whim

A tune / dance from the 1695 edition of Playford’s The Dancing Master introduced to the band by Ashley Hutchings. The chords that follow are from Cecil Sharp’s setting of the tune.

Hopping Down in Kent

The Kent hops were usually harvested by gypsies, East Enders and the local people. Not surprisingly, this song contains elements of all three cultures. It was collected from a gypsy singer, Marry Ann Haynes.

Horse’s Brawl (Bransle de Cheveaux) *

From the first detailed account of dancing and dances, Orchesographie (1589), by Thoinot Arbeau (almost an anagram of the author’s real name - Jehan Tabourot).

On Christmas Night All Christians Sing

A traditional Sussex carol, collected in the early years of the 20th century by Ralph Vaughan Williams. This is a previously unreleased out-take from The Prospect Before Us sessions.

Merry Sherwood Rangers (single version)

An alternative take previously released as a single B-side (Harvest HAR 5113)