Ashley Hutchings All Stars, The - As You Like It,
This 1987 live recording was originally released the following year, but was reissued in 2016 following the passing of Pete Zorn, who was one of the musicians involved. According to the sleeve notes, Ashley decided after he had finished recording ‘By Gloucester Docks I Sat Down and Wept’ that he needed to put together a band and get out on the road. Sadly, this doesn’t include any of the material from that set, but any album that starts with a Richard Thompson number (In this instance, “Cajun Woman”) is always going to grab my attention.
This set does demonstrate that while Ashley will always be renowned for his work within the folk environment, he has always had rather wider interests and it is probably best to think of him more as someone who works very closely within English music. Most of the songs are originals, and “Pat Nevin Flew in on a Wing and a Prayer” must be heard by any fans of the ex-Chelsea/Everton etc. player. One of my personal favourites is the upbeat “Knights of the Road” where the band are just having a rock and roll blast and one can feel the humour and energy. A special mention must be made of Polly Bolton - she doesn’t provide lead vocals on all the material, but when she does she certainly controls the stage. There is the feeling that this should never be thought of as a serious album, but rather one when both the band and the audience really enjoyed themselves and this reissue allows others to get in on the act as well. Another fine reissue, here with a bonus song.