Various Artists - Ban The Bomb- Music Of The Aldermaston Anti-Nuclea [El/Cherry Red - 2022]
Between the late 1950s and mid-1960s, a series of protest marches took place in/ around the Berkshire UK village of Aldermaston. On the outskirts of the village, there were plans to build an Atomic Weapons Establishment, and the marches were an attempt to sway the then government to stop their funding of nuclear bomb research. A big part of these marches was the music played & recording during these protests. And here we have a two-disc set compiling together said music, with the sound moving between rousing folk, acoustic protest music, choral music, and (lots of) trad jazz.
This two-disc set appears on El Records, which is the easier listening/ light jazz/ more mellow genre-focused sub-label of Cherry Red Records. The two CD’s each come in their own card slip sleeves- this is presented in an open side slip in and out sleeve, with the whole thing being finished off inlay booklet. This booklet runs thirty-six pages, and features a write-up/quotes about the marches, the music connected with the protests, the CDN movement, pictures of the protests, and lyrics/ track details for the fifty-four tracks featured across the two disc.Roger Batty
The first disc opens with a short sample of British philosopher Bertrand Russell taking at one of the ban the bomb rallies. Then we’re into the musical side of things with four tracks from Ewan Maccoll and Peggy Seeger- who offer up rousing and jigging banjo-fed folk music. Moving on through the first disc we get acoustic protest songs, lulling female-led folk fare, and more work from Ewan Maccoll and his cohorts. At around the mid-point of the disc, we get a selection of glumly soaring tracks from the London Youth Choir. There’s sing-song non-instrumental chants, folk-blues workouts, and over the last, nine or so tracks a selection of trad jazz work from the likes of Chris Barbers Jazz Band, George Melly & Acker Bilk.
Moving onto the second disc we open up with the jaunting horn & guitar strum of “Coming Down From Aldermaston” by Sheila Hancock and Sydney Carter. But from then on, the remaining twenty-four tracks focuses on the largely instrumental side of trad jazz - with names like Ken Colyer, The Alberts, Kenny Ball, George Melly, and Chris Barbers. And as you’d expected it’s decidedly jaunting, joyous, and buoyant fare…. though if your are not a trad jazz fan, as I am, I can see you may find this disc too biased towards just one genre, when the other disc had been more much more varied.
There’s no doubt that Ban The Bomb- Music Of The Aldermaston Anti-Nuclear Bomb Marches, is an interesting and historically important collection. But I’d say you’ll have a deep love for Trad Jazz, as yes, the first disc is more varied- but the second pretty much exclusively focuses on that genre- so just a pity it couldn't have been a little more genre-varied over the whole release.