Home Service was originally formed from the creative nucleus of the Albion Band line-up that produced the classic “Rise Up Like the Sun” album, singer and songwriter John Tams feeling the need to explore more contemporary themes in his writing and its musical interpretation. Songs like “Walk my Way”, “Alright Jack” and “Sorrow” were anthemic observations on the unfairness of Thatcherite Britain and its social inequalities. The irony is that they sound as potent now as they did then, thereby making this band’s work as relevant as ever.
During the mid-eighties, Home Service produced three albums, headlined at major festivals including Cambridge, Cropredy and Dranouter. They toured extensively, but were probably seen and heard by the greatest number of people when they provided music for the National Theatre’s highly acclaimed production of “The Mysteries”. This epic trilogy adapted by poet Tony Harrison, ran for many years at the National and Lyceum Theatres.
The third album, “Alright Jack”, as well as featuring some of John Tams’ most socially aware songs, also boasts one of the band’s finest achievements, their reworking of composer Percy Grainger’s “Lincolnshire Posy” orchestral suite. Here, the band re-interpret the work, imagining how Grainger may have presented it decades later, using the instruments, technology and rock rhythm section of a new musical era.
The reunion of this classic band is due to the recent discovery of some unheard live recordings made by their former sound engineer. These recordings, made at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1986, exhibit a power and commitment that was never fully captured in the studio, so a live album release immediately became inevitable.
Having enjoyed a dozen major gigs, their reformation has been a resounding success, delighting audiences, old and new alike. Their new live album outsold all other titles on sale at the 2011 Cropredy Festival. The year culminated in their winning of Best Live Act at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards that year.
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