Steve Tilston & Maggie Boyle

(FF 663)
Rounder Records Corp.
One Camp Street
Cambridge, MA 02140

A review written for Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
By Shawn Linderman


Back in the late 70's, aficionados of English folk-rock fell into two camps: Fairport Convention-eers or Steeleye Span-ners. I favored the latter, for their stronger adherence to traditional roots and the lush vocals of Maddy Prior, but vastly enjoyed Fairport as well for their instrumental and songwriting strengths. Steve Tilston and Maggie Boyle combine the best of both supergroups.

Steve and Maggie have been playing together since shortly after the heyday of Fairport and Steeleye. A decade later they are finally getting the recognition and exposure they deserve. Their 1992 release, OF MOOR AND MESA, was a fine work which featured one of the truly great traditional-based tunes of the last ten years, Steve's "Slip Jigs and Reels." When Steve writes a song, he forges it in the fire of beauty, hammers it on the anvil of strength, and cools it in the water of timelessness. I use no exaggeration here--Tilston is that good.

As for Maggie, she's an outstanding flautist and her vocals are superb--very much on the order of Maddy Prior and June Tabor. Most of you have probably already been entranced by her voice--she sang on the title soundtrack, "The Quiet Land of Erin," of the film PATRIOT GAMES.

With their latest CD, ALL UNDER THE SUN, Steve and Maggie are joined by several members of Fairport Convention (Dave Pegg, Dave Mattacks and Maartin Allcock). Also contributing are Tony Hinnegan on charango and Richard Curran on violin. The opening track, "Let Your Banjo Ring," is another Tilston-penned classic, and Mike Hockenhull's banjo lifts it even higher.

ALL UNDER THE SUN includes four traditional tunes, a couple by Maggie and two covers. One of these, "A Fool Such As I," is rather incongruous with the rest of the CD, but pleasant nonetheless (must be the Fairporters' influence, they were always sticking oddball tunes [i.e., not traditional folk-rock] on their albums). It is lamentable that there are only four Tilston compositions here, but three of them are among his finest works: "Man Gone Down," "Dark Days of War," and the aforementioned "Let Your Banjo Ring." Maggie's "The Threepenny Bit" is an instrumental that showcases her considerable skill on the flute. If you're a fan of traditional British folk-rock, Tilston and Boyle have produced what I believe to be one of the best works in that genre in over a decade. It deserves a showcase display in your music library.

[Edited by Cynthia A. Harney]

Copyright 1996, Three Rivers Folklife Society.
This review may bereproduced with prior permission and attribution.

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