• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

CD Review

Show of Hands, Jim Carter, Imelda Staunton, Centenary:

Words and Music of the Great War


Most of the music of the First World War was belted out in music halls, or sung in the trenches, or played by pipers in no man's land, so at first it seems an odd fit to combine some of the famous tunes of the Great War with the West Country folk band Show of Hands. Does it work? Partly. The band's new compositions, The Gamekeeper, and a musical version of the A E Housman poem The Lads in Their Hundreds, are subtle and wistful; versions of anthems such It's A Long Way to Tipperary, which uses beatbox and harmonica, are more awkward.

A second CD, which features Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton performing First World War poetry, is more successful. Show of Hands provide the musical backdrop, but it's the words that jab and thrust. Siegfried Sassoon's The General, for instance, still has astonishing power in its seven, short lines ("he did for them both by his plan of attack") and the other highlights - especially Lamplight by May Wedderburn Cannan and Sassoon's To Victory - are just as good.

But it's the tone of the readings that's right: celebratory, not mournful and occasionally hopeful.

Contextual targeting label: 
Arts and Entertainment

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.