John Kirkpatrick & Chris Parkinson ~ The Sultans Of Squeeze

Title: The Sultans of Squeeze
Artist: John Kirkpatrick & Chris Parkinson
Label: Fledg’ling Records
Recorded & Mixed by: Oliver Knight
Released: 2005

This is so damn enjoyable. I listen to everything from Afghanistan finger cymbals to the feedback from Hendrix’s Stratocaster – anything played with emotion, spirit and soul. There are, however, not many albums of new work in 2005 that I come across which take up permanent rotation in the CD players in the home, car, etc.

What we have here are two masters. Kirkpatrick has issued a wealth of his own albums as well as being in ground breaking projects like Morris On, Brass Monkey as well as providing an essential ingredient to more than one of Richard Thompson’s bands. Parkinson was in the highly respected House Band. That group covered the song Pharaoh on The World Is A Wonderful Place Thompson tribute CD – that turned out to be Richard’s favourite track.

The two musicians play an assortment of accordions, concertinas and melodeons on a vast range of material including French instrumentals, English folk songs, a Who single, a Zydeco classic, a 19th century brass band number and a 50s hit by a writer who went on to compose “Hair”! Now all that in it self does not guarantee an enjoyable listening experience.

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John and Chris have added passion, warmth and humour to come up with a work that is greater than the sum of the parts. You get the feeling that they didn’t want to let each other down – there is no cruising here. The combination of the two has involved them stepping up a gear. There is an addictive quality to the material that gets under your skin. Remember when you brought home LPs and played them again and again. I felt like Thora Birch in Terry Zwigoff’s film Ghost World who having discovered the track Devil Got My Woman by Skip James on a blues compilation LP keeps playing it over and over as it finishes.

David Suff at Fledg’ling Records took the finished tapes, selected the tracks, sequenced the record, arranged the photo shoot and composed the package that sets the project off as a complete work. The key to the visuals is the cover and inlay photos depicting Chris and John apparently both playing one instrument. Obviously this isn’t how they played but these photographs encapsulate the essence of the aural experience. The two musicians play with such empathy they create the added ingredient – magic. The mystery even permeates the CD booklet; Kirkpatrick can be seen stopping the Pigini accordion from levitating. I repeat this album is so damn enjoyable.

Richard Hoare