Another one of the more deceptive English Ceilidh bands, not loud and no drums but playing with a style that can leave you considerably exhausted after a handful of dances. They have a nice touch and play the tunes with a good lift tempting you to dance quite a bit more energetically than planned.
Martin Kiff, Webfeet
Hear for your yourself - listen to sample tracks
The Red Horse
"The band’s tunes come from a wide stretch of
northern Europe (one’s from a website in Leeds) and a number were
composed by bassist Andy Cheyne, erstwhile cassette reviewer of this
parish (another traditional trade trampled by the relentless march of
technology). Inclining to sets of two and three tunes, Geckoes know how
to make smooth transitions and keep up an insistent rhythm. They never
get that loud, never get that brash but they always maintain the
tension. There’s no drum kit but a mass of variegated percussion to
drive things along. Tunes are as apt to be led by a mandolin as a
squeezebox and the arrangements sound as if a lot of care has gone into
them; this is no pub session free-for-all. I particularly liked the
pounding Full Rigged Ship, Caroline Ritson’s fiddle on I Do Not Incline,
Nickley Hood (shades here and elsewhere of The Oyster Ceilidh Band, as
once was: no bad thing) but the whole record’s really good.
The inclusion of ABC software that displays
all the tunes in standard notation and plays them through your speakers
is a great idea for Windows users (who need something to lighten the
cruel hardships they daily undergo, after all) but rendered the CD
unplayable on my Mac, even for audio-only. Downloads for Apple, Linux
and other systems are available from the net, though."
"Here’s more wonderful music from Oxfordshire’s
dancehall champions, bundled with a powerful bit of computer shareware
on to one CD. ABC2Win displays musical notation, letting you copy,
compose, transpose, arrange and play music in the comfort of your own PC
seat - just register with the publishers to print out.
Aside from that, here’s a worthy successor to
1995’s Art Gecko. John Keston-Hole’s replacement on guitars, Tom Miller,
contributes occasional keyboards to the mix - a new element for Geckoes
that brings a touch of Beryl Marriot (or Violet Tulloch) to some
quickstep and reel sets.
Andy Turner’s bright anglo gets, consciously
or otherwise, as close to that of the late William Kimber as you might
wish, particularly on the morris derived tunes, while never hogging the
limelight. And the expected smattering of vocal pyrotechnics, added to
the driving instrumental arrangements compel you to listen and defy you
to stay seated."
No one could doubt that the Red Geckoes (consisting of Andy Cheyne on bass guitars, acoustic guitar, mandolin, bouzouki and fiddle; Andy Turner on anglo concertinas and one-row melodeon; Caroline Ritson on fiddle; Dave Parry on melodeons; and Tom Miller on electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards) are completely English to the very core of their being...
What catches me ear is how clean they sound -- no overdubbing, no obvious studio work after the fact -- just good, lively tunes played just fast 'enough to make the dancers sweat bleedin' good! Everything from waltzes to FHL (Faster Louder Harder) jigs is here...
If you like English dance music, you must have this CD!
Jack Merry, Green Man Review
and finally, not actually a review - just an
unsolicited comment from one of the country's finest dance callers
"the new Geckoes album, the Red Horse ... is
really excellent. They've finally managed to get on record the kind of
glow-in-the-dark touch they manage so easily live. Beautiful tunes, too,
and easy to learn, too, because those generous reptiles have put the abc
for the tunes on the disc. So, if you're as good a player as them, it'll
sound as good....hmmm. I detect a problem for most of us..."
Dance music is meant to be danced to. I make this statement of the obvious because I have heard a number of albums of dance music and invariably they become boring around track four. Dance music can be listening music in a live session but is it possible to make a whole album of dance music interesting? I thought the answer was "no" until I listened to ART GECKO, the second CD by the Oxford-based group Geckoes.
There are twenty-eight tunes on the album drawn from many different parts of the U.K. and Ireland and from France, Italy and the U.S.A. as well as tunes written by members of the band, and the album is full of exquisite sounds and variations in moods and tempo using a wide variety of instruments including acoustic and electric guitars, fiddle, melodeons, concertinas, tabor and keyboards and there are two brief - too brief - vocals by Caroline Ritson.
It must have taken hours to plan this album and achieve such variety and balance but the end product is never cold and cerebral. One of my acid tests for an album is "does it sound good at seven in the morning?" The answer for this album is yes, yes, yes.
Howard Baker, Living Tradition
Original albums from English dance bands are thin on the ground of late, which makes this excellent release all the more refreshing.
Not an over familiar tune or hackneyed arrangement to be seen as the reptilian ones delve into an expansive repertoire which includes 16th century dance tunes, Sussex hornpipes, Northumbrian fiddle tunes, material from Piemont and Texas and a smattering of original material.
Geckoes feature a line up of Caroline Ritson on fiddle, Dave Parry, melodeons, Andy Turner anglo-concertina, one row melodeon, John Keston-Hole, electric and acoustic guitars and Andy Cheyne on bass, mandolin, fiddle and acoustic guitar and Keith Chandler on triangle, tambourine and tabor.
They have been compared to a drummerless Oyster Band from the 'Tie-slackeners' era.
An interesting and unusual choice of material, with excellent arrangements.
Delving into the 15 tracks (one hour) at random, 'O Let Me In This Ae Night' has a delightful quirky sound, thanks to concertina, and evolves into a Breton circle dance, arranged to sound like an English step-hop.
Highly recommended - an essential purchase..
Andy Hemsley, PDCS website
The Geckoes have not yet appeared at local ceilidhs, (i.e. in the Gloucestershire area covered by Fokwrite) but soon they should be famous / expensive enough, and on the evidence of this tape I can't wait. They have aimed for a greater degree of arrangement, variety and pace so as to satisfy the lsitener as well as the dancer - and boy, have they succeeded. This tape seems to have a strong Swedish influence, in that the good habits of the best Swedish bands (Groupa, Filarfolket etc.) have rubbed off to produce a transparency of texture and subtlety of arrangement which, linked with great playing and an overwhelming internal rhythmic force just leaps out at you. A superb mixture of tunes (I wouldn't mind learning all of them) and excellent recording have combined to produce one of my favourite dance band tapes so far. The only problem is getting it out of the cassette player...
Paul Burgess, Folkwrite
Dance bands are notoriously difficult to record effectively, without losing the live ambience, but the exuberant Geckoes rise above that barrier. Their very danceable cassette had me jigging round the kitchen - or playing along. How often does one just have to learn two tunes from an album within two days of receiving it? The material is mostly excellent but the two bewitching tunes are John Tremaine's Hornpipe and Andy Cheyne's delightful London Schottische.
In both material and playing styles, Geckoes have a cosmoplitan bent, exhibiting continental and French Canadian or Cajun influences
(especially Dave Parry's melodeon) anchored on a solid English base. Their sound is also solid - fiddles and free reeds with tasteful percussion... Geckoes also indulge in fine harmony singing - the calling-on type Harry Parry and some Swingle-ish a cappella mouth music on Giga Ferrarese.
The one serious criticism of this cassette is that it's too short. More please!
Jem Hammond, Taplas
The 'do you want to dance?' test is passed with ease
Nick Beale, Folk Roots
The chief characteristics of this cassette are its infectious jollity and dazzling musicianship with a delightful cheekiness of musicians in complete control...
Geoff & Fran Doel, Folk in Kent
To book Geckoes for your dance or festival contact:
Tel. 01235 811757 email firstname.lastname@example.org