Barnstormer 1649 is the latest band and project of Atilla The Stockbroker and this album is his telling of the tales of The Levellers and Freeborn John Lilburne, which of course means it is the latest album to tell that tale and for me will always be held up against the benchmark album on this subject by Rev Hammer and his magnificent Freeborn John The Story of John Lilburne-The Leader Of The Levellers.
Now while This album takes a wider focus it is still about that battle for the soul of England or the United Kingdom if we are indeed united.
The album opens with the 8-minute-long The Levellers' Trilogy that splits into three parts with the opening instrumental folk of March Of The Levellers that becomes Atilla and his band singing The Diggers Song that is a rousing call to arms to fight against the powers that be in the middle of the 17th century. Now I prefer Atilla reading poetry to singing but as most of his singing sounds like his spoken word voice it isn't that hard to take, as he tells the story of how Cromwell and his army made sure The World Turned Upside Down, only this is nowhere near as catchy as Rev Hammers telling of this bit of the tale.
Wellingborough & Wigan explains that the Diggers were all over the country and not just in Surrey as the traditional instrumentation mixed with Electric bass and Drums helps makes sure it feels like an real old fashioned folk sound as Atilla then draws parallels with the current situation we find ourselves in.
The Monarch's Way/King Charles Cottage is about why Charles II lost his head and the aftermath of that event and prior to that, his defeat in Worcester by the New Model Army and how they chased him down what is now the Monarchs way, all the way to Shoreham where Atilla lives these days. It's set to what Atilla describes as Roundhead Renaissancecore and who are we to argue with such a perpetual ranter as Atilla as he wonders if the cottage that is claimed as Charles II bolthole is really where he stayed before fleeing to France.
Next up is what sounds like a drunken lament for Abiezer Coppe the leader of the Ranters that Atilla styled himself on while admitting what a lightweight he is compared to the legendary Abiezer and what he did for the Burford Martyrs and I'm sure it wasn't to suggest planting vines and turning the local fields into the vineyards they now are. Even if he would have approved as he really led a quite dissolute life while battling against the cavaliers who eventually threw him into Newgate.
The Battle Of Worcester is a Crumhorn led instrumental re-enactment of the final battle in the English Civil War and is a cool piece of Medieval doom folk.
We then get to the one song I have real issues with The Man With The Beard that seeks to make comparisons between Jeremy Corbyn and both John Lilburne and Jesus Christ in his battles.
My issues are that anyone who has been a professional politician for as long as JC has can hardly be deemed anti-establishment, for him to be truly as inspirational as Atilla would Like JC to be, he would have had to have left the Labour party when he was leading the Stop the War movement and started a new party then.
Yes Plenty of us sneer at him for not doing more in many respects in building a real movement to overthrow our current ruling class that he is of course a part of, but I'm sure many Corbynista's will love this very catchy indeed Hymn to their hero. Oh and no I would never vote Tory or any of our other mainstream options overthrow the whole rotten lot thanks.
Prides Purge also mixes the ancient and the modern in telling the tale of the time when MP's would be subject to mandatory de-selection that took place during Pride's Purge, well I for one would be fine with no MPâ€™s being allowed to sit for more than 3 terms. This is one of the punkier songs on the album even if violin and viola solos aren't usually that punk this one certainly is.
Harrison is a salutary tale of poor Thomas Harrison who was hung drawn and quartered for daring to be a republican over some military snare drumming and every time I've had a drink in the pub named after this event I always raise a glass to him.
Burford Requiem is an instrumental piece on Mandola and Bass recorder that is quite affecting but doesn't have the impact of Rev Hammer's Burford Stomp with it's grumbles about having spent 7 years fighting for the dead man's Shilling.
The Voice is mainly about Thomas Rainsborough and the speeches he made as leader of The New Model Army and just how inspirational he was. The Fisherman's Tale is a real sea shanty about what it would have been like to accidentally catch a king while out fishing from Shoreham and it sounds like there should be some traditional dancing on the harbour side to this song with the Bonnie Besses in the Sea Green Dresses squaring up opposite the Fishermen.
Lord Protector is a slow woeful tale of the time just after Cromwell's death and the things that led to the Restoration that Atilla is still angry about just under 400 years later and they have a go at modern politicians for holding a grudge. It ends up of course almost sounding like a hymn for the secular and the atheists to sing along too.
Cromwell's Funeral doesn't sound like they are dancing on his grave more just mourning the destruction and hurt that he was involved in and the defeat of the Levellers and radicals. It's a very pensive piece played on Piano and Bass and Tenor Recorder.
Robina is as close to a love song as Atilla could ever write although Robina is both his wife's name and that of Cromwell's sister, so the song has a nice duality to it as well as some very nice Viola and it also provides an upbeat end to the album with a message of Love rather than hate.
This album for me makes a good companion piece to Rev Hammer's Freeborn John and helps build up a good sense of what it was like to live in very turbulent times that practiced censorship and routine oppression of the population and for that alone I am very thankful to have been sent this and I'll make sure to remember those who lost there lives at Burford when I'm there at the end of the week.
This album is not available to download but you can get a CD or Vinyl copy from www.atillathestockbroker.com