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GUEST,Tom Bliss BBC4 Christmas Session (195* d) RE: BBC4 Christmas Session 11 Dec 10

I missed it entirely last year because I was in hospital counting blokes with scythes, but I'm amazed and slightly distressed by the negative comments above. At last some of the top younger UK folk acts get a no-holds-barred slot on the Beeb - surely even it it's not your cup of tea that's something to applaud? And these people are to a man and girl seriously good musicians - how many here could hold a candle? (I certainly can't).

Whatever was there not to enjoy? Great music, great atmosphere, different yet familiar, both variety and Variety - I'd give it 10 out of 10 any day.

I noticed no audio or video problems to speak of (I'm a TV director and I know what this show will have involved - trust me, was a technical triumph), so cannot imagine why others appear to have done so. (There may have been a bit of post-synching of alternative takes on occasion, but that's no crime - in fact it's the only way to capture this sort of show with that many artists on a realistic production budget).

I also thought the singing was extremely good for a live event, any more controlled and it would have lost spontaneity.

Sam Lee has one of the spookily best voices around. Not everyone likes Jon's voice but I think he's terrific, as were all five of the girls (again, not everyone 'gets' Rachel and Backy, but they definitely have got it - or they'd not be where they are today - and I love'em), Paul was as reliably excellent as ever and so was Jim (again not everyone's cup of tea, but his phrasing, emotional charge, diction and timbre are all beyond reproach). I was intrigued by the darkness of Emmanuel, which though in a minor key is usually delivered in a triumphant style - but Jim's version had me thinking of broader meanings for the words - specially "and ransom captive Israel." Top stuff, challenging and beautiful.

The only thing that galled me about this was that I've been trying (somewhat half-heartedly, admittedly) to persuade the Beeb to let me do a folk version of Later - (with, I hoped, Sartin as presenter) and I now I realise I was trumped more than a year ago! The guy is, as I guessed, a complete natural.

The two Pauls did not look in the least out of their depth! Ok the box was a tad quiet, but I've seen them do this live dozens of times and this was bang up to par.

Good Old Days meets Down and Out in London and Paris? Absolutely! And why-ever not?

Great telly - definitely and absolutely a show that will have drawn in and entertained non-folk people, and terrific advocacy for the best of what's afoot these days.


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