Atrax Records: TheSwarbStore: Atrax Records Releases: Another Fine Mess


Dave Swarbrick & Simon Nicol - Another Fine Mess - Live in New York '84 NEW!

£13.00 (inc. UK p&p)

EUR 23.00 (inc. European p&p) / $21.00 (inc. worldwide p&p)

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Information; Track-Listing; Reviews etc.

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Following up on the success of our recent extended re-release of Swarbrick & Nicol's 'In The Club' and coinciding with the duo's return to gigging after the best part of two decades, Atrax Records released a brand new Swarbrick & Nicol album on the 1st of December 2002. 

Featuring 100% previously unreleased live recordings from the duo's original career in the early eighties, the new release will concentrate on the songs & tunes that somehow never made it to record - in fact only five of the twelve tracks have ever been released by Swarbrick & Nicol in any version.

Most of the album is drawn from two superb sets that Simon & Swarb played at New York's Folk City in April 1984. Wonderfully recorded direct to digital by highly respected engineer & producer Edward Haber, along with long-term right-hand-man Illana Pelzig Cellum, and kept in Ed's archives for 18 years, we can finally make these available for official release. 

Swarbrick & Nicol @The Brewery Folk Club, Rochester, Kent. c. 1982


Rough track progress sheet - not final track-listing

© Atrax Records 2002

Amongst the highlights are some superb tune sets - including a reworking of the Humours of Cappa/Swallowtail Reel opening medley, this time incorporating Tobin's Favourite & The High Road To Linton; a stunning epic performance of the Flitter Dance medley; and a great rendition of the Bride's March medley which originally appeared on Swarb's solo album, 'Flittin'. 

As well as the tunes, there are also a number of reworked Fairport Convention classics - John Barleycorn, The Poor Ditching Boy, a beautiful stripped-down performance of Rosie, and an incredible, one-off, completely impromptu Matty Groves/Orange Blossom Special medley.

See further down the page for a track-listing & source information as well as a few reviews.

The CD is available at Swarbrick & Nicol gigs and direct from us - see ORDERING DETAILS for more info. 

SPECIAL OFFER: If you've not already got (or even if you have!) our previous Swarbrick & Nicol release - In The Club - you can order a copy along with the new CD for an extra tenner....yes....a mere £10.00. For US$ customers that's $17.00 (inc p&p).


01. The Humours of Cappa/Tobin's Favourite/The Swallowtail Reel/The High Road To Linton
02. The Bride's March/The Keelman's Pertition/Shew Me The Way To Wallingford/Sword Dance
03. John Barleycorn
04. The Flitter Dance/Mona's Delight/Peter O'Tavy/Hunt The Wren
05. Democratic Rage/The Consitution/President Garfield's
06. The Young Black Cow/Lord Inchiquin
07. The Poor Ditching Boy
08. Merry Boys Of Greenland/Olifjord Jack/Willafjord 
09. Rosie
10. The Widow of Westmoreland’s Daughter
11. Carthy's March/Royal Seleccion No. 13
12. Matty Groves/Orange Blossom Special


Tracks 1-11: Folk City, New York City - 13th April 1984. Recorded by Edward Haber and Illana Pelzig Cellum direct to PCM-F-1 digital. 2002 digital transfer by Edward Haber.
Track 12: Yesterday's Folk Club, Bristol - 13th December 1982. From The Brian New Archives. 2002 digital transfer and restoration by Alex Lyons.


Another Fine Mess by Dave Swarbrick & Simon Nicol - Reviewed by Pete Fyfe



There's one thing you can rest assured of in this world - bacon and eggs in the morning (Johnny Jones where are you?) - and quality music from Dave Swarbrick and Simon Nicol. Talking of which Darren from phoned the other day to say the duo were playing a re-union at their old stomping ground the Half Moon, Putney. Thanks for the message but it was a little late! So on the other hand I'll just have to sit here and wallow in self-pity as I listen once again to the strains of 'The Humours Of Cappa', 'The Widow Of Westmorland's Daughter' and 'The Poor Ditching Boy'. For those obsessive completists out there (and I can count myself amongst them) will be salivating at the mere mention of an acoustic outing for 'Matty Groves'. OK, I suppose there are so many times you can soak up sponge-like the amount of times you can listen to the same track with a critical ear but when it sounds as fresh as this, who cares? I remember the first time I heard Simon and Dave performing 'John Barleycorn' at a college in London along with the Tipplers Tale line-up of Fairport and thinking what a nice, uncomplicated arrangement it was full of the 'cheeky-chappie' bon homie that was so much the band's trademark at the time. The final mention must go to the Isle of Man set of tunes, which never once let's up the pace in 12 minutes. For those of us that have had the pleasure of seeing them live (maybe you could let me know sooner next time Darren?) the album is full of everything you could want. For those that haven't seen them live go and stand in the corner of the room and write 100 times - I will buy this CD! For copies of the CD contact:

Pete Fyfe -

Dave Swarbrick & Simon Nicol, Another Fine Mess: Live In New York '84 (Atrax 2002)

Reviewed by Michael Hunter

After nearly twenty years, Swarbrick and Nicol have begun touring the UK folk clubs as an acoustic duo again. The first time around, it was as one of the spinoffs resulting from Fairport Convention's early-80s hiatus, with a couple of hard-to-find albums released at the time. Even the 1997 CD compilation of those recordings, Close To The White Bear, is now deleted. This time around, interest has been stirred again by the 2001 Atrax CD reissue of the In The Club cassette, which Swarb is seen selling from a basket, presumably at an early Cropredy, on the back of this new CD. The response was so good that the duo arranged various gigs around their otherwise very busy schedule in late '02 and early '03, and it was decided a new album should be forthcoming --or at least a first-time release of a live performance from their original incarnation.

The subtitle is self-explanatory - the CD was largely recorded at Folk City in New York in April 1984, with the exception of the final track which comes from a Bristol, UK performance a couple of years earlier. Interestingly, though there is inevitable crossover between some of the songs and tune sets on Another Fine Mess and other Swarbrick/Nicol albums, there is enough variation in the arrangements and enough new material presented to make it pretty much essential, even for anyone lucky enough to have those recordings. In any case, the quality of the musicianship, the fun of the performance and the obvious delight of the audience all combine to make this CD pretty irresistible altogether.

Seven of the twelve tracks are tune medleys -- to be expected, given the the duo's reputation for these sets. These are often Irish tunes such as "Young Black Cow/Lord Inchiquin" but others from further afield are also included such as the Nova Scotian medley "Democratic Rage/The Constitution/President Garfield's." Even some of the more familiar tracks are presented here in somewhat different form - for example, the medley which comprised "Humours Of Cappa" and "Swallowtail Reel" has two more tunes added to it, "Tobin's Favourite" and "High Road To Linton," while the "Flitter Dance Medley" sounds very different in an acoustic duo format as opposed to the full band version from Swarb's Lift The Lid And Listen album. The second tune, "Peter O'Tavy" is also considerably slower than on the original recording.

The songs include older Fairport favourites such as "Rosie" and "John Barleycorn." They also perform Richard Thompson's "Poor Ditching Boy" which suits the more sparse arrangement, and an apparently unrehearsed acoustic version of "Matty Groves," included as a request. Their years of performing it with FC stood them in good stead for adapting it to this format (this is the earlier 1982 recording mentioned previously). Another rarity is a version of "Carthy's March," first recorded on a Swarb solo album with Martin Carthy on guitar - which segues into the Fairport instrumental medley "Royal Seleccion #13."

Throughout, Swarbrick plays with the expected fire and gusto when necessary, and with obvious sensitivity on the airs and ballads. His only lead vocal work is on "Rosie" though his backing vocals blend well with Nicol's performance on the other songs. On the instrumentals, it is apparent Swarb is often improvising around a tune and enjoying doing so, but the intrinsic understanding between his fiddle and Nicol's guitar ensures it all stays well and truly on track.

The spoken introductions are equal parts informative and witty, and their inclusion helps to give what must be a good indication of what the duo were/are like live. It is very pleasing to see more recordings and gigs from Dave Swarbrick and Simon Nicol considering their original time together was reasonably brief. Like the music they play, they are adaptable and beyond mere fashion, which makes it a pleasure to hear them at any time. Might we be so bold as to ponder the possibility of a new recording from the duo in 2003?

By Michael Hunter of Fiddlestix

Another Fine Mess by Dave Swarbrick & Simon Nicol - Reviewed by Carey Hancock.

NEVER mind Atrax, "Another Fine Mess" should have been released on "Cartier" 'cos this set contains more gems than Elizabeth Taylor's safety deposit box.

The majority of the material was recorded one New York night in 1984, by which time the deadly duo had been playing together - on and off - for the best part of 15 years.This, of course, meant that there was a tremendous depth of musical empathy: risks could be - and were! - taken. This is not a staid, over-polished collection of material: it's more a feeling of two mates (who just happen to be amongst the finest folk performers in the land) going down the pub and having a blast. Pleasing the audience, but also pleasing themselves.

Action commences with the "Humours of Cappa" medley,  a collection of high octane jigs n' reels played at a speed which left me counting me digits - and I only play air fiddle! This is followed by one of the highlights of Swarb's "Smiddyburn" masterpiece: "The Bride's March" etc. A piece of music which allows the chaps to display the full range of their virtuosity: a slow sensitive start then BOOM! more flying finger feats!

"John Barleycorn" was, of course, a staple of the FC repertoire and it works just as well with only half the band!

This is followed by a real highlight - "The Flitter Dance" set. Again, things start with the gently sublime leading through to the ridiculously fast and furious, culminating in a frantic (improvised?) finale with the "Theakston Twins" providing "Diddle Di Dum" vocals alonside their instrumental dexterity.

"Democratic Rage/The Constitution/President Garfield" are a set of hornpipes which also swing like the proverbial clappers, before things calm down a bit for the exquisite "Young Black Cow".

Another Fairport favourite follows in the shape of the RT-penned "Poor Ditching Boy" which, as always, features a strong vocal from Simon and a beautiful fiddle solo from Swarb.

"Merry Boys of Greenland/Olifjord Jack/Willafjord" also belong to the fast n' furious school of folk fiddling before a sterling rendition of the evergreen "Rosie" and the FC foot-tapper "The Widow of Westmoreland's Daughter".

Finishing the sequence from the Big Apple is a unique pairing of Swarb's tune for his old partner "Carthy's March" with "Royal Seleccion No 13": if these don't bring a smile to your face and a tap to your toes...then I'm afraid you're probably clinically dead!!

Finally, from a 1982 gig in Bristol is a song that I thought I had more than enough versions of - "Matty Groves".

I was wrong, this unrehearsed spontaneous performance breaths buckets of fresh air into the old dog before a rip-roaring "Orange Blossom Special".

And that's it. Nearly 80 minutes of fun n' folk frolics over in a flash.

All I can add is that it's very well-recorded/produced and that it comes in a package which is almost worth the entrance money itself (photo of Britain's foremost fiddle-player standing in a field at Cropredy flogging tapes from a plastic basket strapped round his neck, anyone?).

They say the best things in life are free - tosh, piffle & nonsense...they come from Atrax and cost twelve quid or so!

Cheers, Carey

Last updated on 30 January 2003