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Live and CD Reviews below in English, German, Dutch and Italian....

Latest Reviews -

COPPIN/SILVER concert at STROUD Subscription Rooms 20th March 2009

Seeing Johnny Coppin and Mike Silver on stage together is to the folk world like seeing David Bowie and John Lennon on stage together in 1975.

It's a match made in a kind of folk heaven, with Silver adding another level of charisma, and not to mention guitar ability to Coppin's already polished performances. It proves a very different experience to Coppin's "All on a Winter's Night" evenings in Stroud and Cheltenham, with old friends Paul Burgess and Mick Dolan.

Gone are the eerie notes of the chilling "Innocents's Song", replaced by a host of old Decameron numbers, traditional folk covers and original material from Coppin and Silver, and formidable songs penned by them both.

They play off each other perfectly, with Silver's formidable finger work on the guitar and cuatro completely complementing Coppin's guitar and piano playing.

Neither voice has lost any strength since the early days, and the on-stage banter is still hilarious. Every song played from joint album "Breaking the Silence" has the makings of a classic, and I hope this sensational collaboration continues for many years." - Stroud Life

 

COPPIN/SILVER concert at BONEN nr HAMM, GERMANY 19 Sept 2008

Glasklare Stimmen sangen emotionsgeladene Liedtexte Bönen,

Bönen. (kmg) Sanfte Gitarrentöne hallten durch Lenchens Dachstube als das Musiker-Duo Mike Silver und Johnny Coppin mit ihrem Schmuse-Song "Reaching out for love" am Freitagabend ihr Konzert einleiteten.

Die romantische Atmosphäre, die nicht zuletzt auch durch die dezente Beleuchtung zustande kam, weckte im Publikum wohlige Emotionen. Mike Silver und Johnny Coppin begeisterten mit ihren nahezu zerbrechlich-feinen Stimmen, die zum Träumen und Genießen einluden.

"Unsere Musik ist eine gute Mischung aus allem", erklärt Mike Silver vor dem Konzert. Neben melancholischen Texten sei auch die Romanik ein besonderes Thema ihrer Musik, so der Künstler.

Die beiden Liedschreiber, die seit mehreren Jahrzehnten im Musik-Business tätig sind, arbeiten erst seit drei Jahren als Duo zusammen. Den emotionsgeladenen Song "this heart sings", widmeten sie einer verstorbenen Freundin. Das Lied berührte das Publikum so sehr, dass das ein oder andere Tränchen verstohlen weggewischt wurde und sich die Gänsehaut am ganzen Körper ausbreitete.

Der Kontakt nach Bönen entstand durch Reinhart Potschinski, Musiklehrer im Musikkarussell. Er habe Mike Silver schon 1975 auf einem Konzert in Hamm kennengelernt und war schon damals begeistert.

Das Duo schaffte das, was einen erfolgreichen Musikabend ausmacht. Sie bezogen das Publium kurzerhand in ihr Programm mit ein, forderten die Zuhöhrer auf, auch die unbekannte Refrains mitzusummen. Erst schüchtern und zurückhaltend, dann losgelöst und lauthals ließen sich die Zuhörer auf das melodische Abendteuer ein und geizten am Ende nicht mit Lobeshymnen und Applaus. ----22.09.2008 Westfälische Rundschau

 

LIVING TRADITION REVIEW - 2008
Breaking the Silence - Johnny Coppin and Mike Silver
"When you bring together two seasoned professional singers each with their own solo standing, to write, record and perform like this, there is a risk that the result might disappoint. There is no fear of that in this case. Johnny and Mike toured together in 2005 and 2006 and the audiences loved it. They will love this too, and I think one reason might be that this really is a trio album. Mick Dolan has done a superb job at his studio in Trelash, North Cornwall, and I reckon his name deserves to be in bigger print! He even gets the writing credit (wrong!) for Postcards from Cornwall, which is one of my favourites on this CD. Another of many highlights is the down-home rootsy blues of Main Man's Ear in which the two voices come together so well you wonder why they left it so long to get around to this. The country re-working of Karine Polwart's The Sun's Coming Over the Hill is glorious as is the mayhem of Robbie Robertson's Up on Cripple Creek. Oh, and don't be in too much of a hurry to take the CD out of the player... there's an absolute gem that will reward your patience. There are three songs on this CD co-written by Mike and Johnny, one of which is called We Had It All. No need for the past tense, boys."
• Phil Thomas

ROCK n REEL REVIEW January 2008
Breaking the Silence - Johnny Coppin and Mike Silver

"Although neither Coppin nor Silver have achieved much more than cult status, it's certainly no indication of their song-writing abilities. Like so many who make their living largely within the folk and roots circuit, it's chiefly their main reliance on acoustic guitar and song writing, rather than interpreting Traditional music, that has been the pair's forte. Coppin, as part of folk- rockers Decameron in the early 70s and latterly via solo material and collaborations with the poet and writer Laurie Lee, and Silver, originally signed to Elton John's Rocket Records in the early 70s and since working with folk, pop and mainstream performers in addition to recording a series of solo albums, have both steadfastly ploughed their own musical furrows. Breaking the Silence, their first studio collaboration, works particularly well with Silver's song writing displaying a sharpness of delivery and deftness of touch reminiscent of Richard Thompson, and a rootsy blues at times bringing to mind the work of Ralph Mc Tell. Coppin's voice, the higher of the two in timbre, is more suited to some of the gentler material such as his vision of a rural idyll, 'Rydal', where his voice hints at the soaring strength of John Denver. Silver's songs of broken and damaged relationships, 'Wrong Side of Midnight' and 'Not a Matter of Pride', told from the woman's point of view, are knowing yet sensitive explorations of the human spirit. The duo's self-penned material stands out amidst the occasional and unnecessary cover versions (an exception being Coppin's elegant reading of Karine Polwart's 'The Sun's Coming Over The Hill')"
• Danny Moore

FOLK ROOTS REVIEW - December 2007
Breaking the Silence CD - Johnny Coppin and Mike Silver

"Two of our top singer-songwriters breathing fresh life into songs from their celebrated back catalogues, plus three fine new compositions and four covers. The two men admire and respect each other's work, and they get together fabulously on this harmony-rich, simple live-in-the-studio recording."

www.Rambles.net in USA - Keep the Flame EP CD
"I am very picky when it comes to Christmas music. If there is one thing I dread at the end of each year, it is hearing the same handful of holiday songs played over and over again wherever you go in public. I swear that this year the stores started playing these tunes before Halloween! Fortunately, I have been introduced to a Cotswolds (U.K.) singer-songwriter who performs Celtic/folk music and has a beautiful voice. I normally wouldn't say that about a male singer, but when I listened to Keep the Flame for the first time I was caught off guard by Johnny's vocals, and that was the words that popped in my mind. This man can sing! The title track starts off the CD. Johnny not only sings, but plays piano, keyboards, acoustic guitar and drums (but not all at once). This acoustic version of "Keep the Flame" begs the listener to ponder and contemplate life. While the melody is almost somber, the lyrics focus on the positive. As Johnny says in the promotional material, "Christmas is clearly a happy occasion but it can also be a reflective time and this CD remembers Gillian (Johnny's wife who died of cancer in 2001) and several absent friends -- hence the reminder to keep the flame burning." Some of you might be familiar with the song "Get Me Through December." Alison Krauss (another singer with a beautiful voice) performed this tune several years back on the Natalie MacMaster CD In My Hands. This is a song about a person who wants the new year to come so they can start anew. The piano and violin enhance one's listening pleasure from what would already be enjoyed through Johnny's vocals. I should mention that one unfortunate thing about this CD is that it is only an E.P. with seven tracks. The last track is the instrumental "Galician Carol." This Spanish carol invokes images of enjoying a Renaissance Yule. Guest musician Paul Burgess plays a lively recorder. Speaking of guest musicians, they include Burgess (recorder, violin), Mick Dolan (acoustic and electric guitars, percussion, tambourine, shaker, vocals), Geoff March (backing vocals) and Dik Cadbury (backing vocals). I learned from the promotional material that Johnny was a member of the 1970s folk rock group Decameron. March and Cadbury were also members of that group. If you were a fan of Decameron, then I can't imagine you being disappointed with Johnny Coppin now. On the flip side, as I'm enjoying what I've heard so far, I am going to have to go find some re-issued copies of Decameron's albums to see if the music is just as good. I should expect so. Those of you close to the Cotswolds (an area not far from London, but too far from Dallas, Texas, dang-it!) will be happy to note that Johnny Coppin has a series of concerts planned this month. You can check out the listing on his website. Interested new listeners might check the site out as well. For sound clips you will have to hit Amazon.com and look up Decameron to get an idea of what Johnny has to offer. However, whether you have heard of Johnny Coppin or not, I highly recommend Keep the Flame. This is a wonderful winter E.P., regardless which holiday celebrations you partake of (or not). The music and vocals are not to be missed if you enjoy Celtic and/or folk music.
• Will Owen, Rambles.NET - 17 December 2005

FOLK BULLETIN - ITALY - KEEP THE FLAME and THE WINDING STAIR Johnny Coppin "C'e un vecchio numero del "Folk Goirnale", del maggio 1989, che ritrae una foto di Cathy Le Surf Band, con gli Strawbs, Johnny Coppin e Phil Beer, scattata in occasione della sconda edizione del festival folk primaverile "Musita" a Tavagnacco (UD). In quel periodo Johnny Coppin e Phil Beer fecero una bella serie di concerti lungo tutta la penisola, e a "Musita" ricossero un buon successo di critica e di publico. Diciassette anni dopo, con qualche capello bianco ci ritroviamo a recensire i soui dischi. Johnny Coppin, ex Decameron (prestigiosa folk rock band che fra il 1973 e il 1976, incise quattro ottimi dischi), ha inciso come solista ben tredici dischi, tutti di alto livello, musicando, nel corso degli anni, poesie e poemi di svariati autori anglosassoni. I due lavoi che presentiamo rappresentano la "nuova direzione musicale" di Coppin. Il primo, "Keep the Flame", e una bella raccolta di songs e carole natalizie, ed e stato registrato assieme a un nugolo di valenti amici musicisti, come il talentuoso Paul Burgess, al violino e recorder, il prestigioso Mick Dolan, chitarre, percussioni e seconda voce, mentre Coppin, che siede al piano e canta, e un intrattenitore ideale, sia vocale che instrumentale. Solenne, l'iniziale" Keep the Flame". Quasi rinascimentale, nella struttera, la bella "Children's Winter", dedicata a figlio Ross, mentre il violino bucolico di Burgess da ampio respiro a "Get Me Through December". Superba, "Astrologers' Journey", con Geoff March e Dik Cadbury (Decameron) ai cori. Impalpabile ed eterea, la sequente "Love Came Down at Christmas", musicata da Coppin su un poema di Christina Rossetti e magnifica anche "You Raise Me Up", classica love song di grande suggestione con Cadbury e March nelle armonie vocali. Finale con "Galician Carol", tradizionale strumentale malizioso arrangiato insieme a Carlos Nunez e Paul Burgess. Succesivo a "Keep the Flame" e "The Winding Stair", registrato con la peziosa presenza di Mike Silver, L'omnispresente Paul Burgess, Phil Beer, Mick Dolan, John Neilson e Geoff March. Il titolo e inspirato a una celebre libreria di Dublino, luogo d'incontroto di musicisti, poeti, attori. Ahime, il contenuto e troppo bello per essere commentato e ogni definizione corre qui, di essere superflua. L'ascolto e la soluzione ne migliore e poi..lasciarsi cullare dalla calda e melodica voce del cantautore e dalla piace-volezza delle sue ballate. Per stuzzicare l'appetito degli ascoltatori piu curiosi ed esigenti consigliamo l'audizione di "Reunion Hill" di Richard Shindell, cantautore USA passato anni fa anche dalle nostre parti, "Peace Descends", di Paul Metsers, cantautore protagonista di tour organizzati dal Folk Studio Group di Paolo Nuti. Ed ancora "Survival", "We Had it All" cantata e composta com Mike Silver, nonche "The Winding Stair" dello stresso Johnny Coppin. Tutte da scoprire le rimanenti ballate. Coppin e decisamente uno dei nostri cantautori Preferiti, consigliabile a tutti, ma in modo speciale a quanti amano Jackson Browne, Paul Brady e Elton John."
• Mauro Quai

THE WINDING STAIR - CD Reviews
New Folk Sounds Holland (2006)

" Johnny Coppin draait al heel wat jaren mee. De ouderen onder ons zullen hem wellicht nog herinneren als zanger/pianist/gitarist van de legendarische groep Decameron. Sinds het uiteenvallen van die groep heeft Coppin gewerkt aan een solo-carriere met inmiddels een tiental albums op zijn naam. De grote bekendheid, of liever erkenning, is steeds uitgebleven. Op The Winding Stair was het dertien jaar wachten. Het is meer dan de moiete waard. Coppin's producties zijn altijd zorgvuldig, degelijk en vooral eerlijk. Compromissen in de vorm van enige commercialiteit zijn uit den boze. Het is puur intrinsieke beleving wat je op zijn albums treft. Het begint al bij de openingstrack Renunion Hill, een prachtig lied over de Amerikaanse burgeroorlog, gecomponeerd door Richard Shindell en hier vootreffelijk en overtuigd gezongen door Coppin. Het is een mooi voorbeeld van de meer romantische zijde van Coppin. Survival van vriend en gastmuzikant Mike Silver belicht de andere kant van de Britse singer/songwriter: opgewekte, up-tempo liederen met een pakkend ritme.Coppin's songs, of het nu covers of eigen composities zijn, snijden hout. Ze stemmen tot nadenken zonder opdringerig te zijn. De teksten zijn poetisch, lyrisch en toch realistisch. In combinatie met de toegankelijke, melodische en ietwat melancholische melodieen vormen ze prachtige werkstukjes de het waard zijn veel beluisterd te worden. Bindend in dit alles is zijn karakterische falsetto stem, kraakhelder, zuiver en met veel dynamiek. The Winding Stair bevat opvallend veel werk van anderen en enkele traditionals : Lakes of Coolfin, een prachtige bewerking of Susanna Martin, Andy M Stewart's Donegal Rain, en The Sun's Coming Over the Hill van Karine Polwart zijn de bekendste. Coppin wordt bijgestaan door onder meer Silver (gitaar, zang), Paul Burgess en Phil Beer (fiddles), Mick Dolan (gitaar), John Neilson (accordion) en Geoff March (cello) op een wederom zeer te pruimen album. "
• Marius Roeting

York Evening Press - Dec 23. 2005
listed as one of best 5 Folk Albums of 2005- Best Comeback - Johnny Coppin. The Winding Stair (Red Sky Records) - "The Cotswolds singer/songwriter, formerly of Decameron, one of the mega bands of the folk revival, shows his muse is still burning brightly with this collection of songs."
• Richard Foster

Taplas Review Oct/Nov 2005
"As eclectic as the shelves of the Dublin bookshop that the title track alludes to, Decameron founder Johnny Coppin is in tremendous form on this new solo album. His selection of songs is astute and covers many genres of the ballad form. Accompanied by an excellent studio band including Phil Beer, long time associates Paul Burgess and Mick Dolan, John Neilson on accordion and bouzouki, Coppin is able to give full vent to his expressive, sometimes mournful, but instantly recognisable tenor voice. Karine Polwart's Best Original Song in the 2005 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, The Sun's Coming Over the Hill and the tender Lakes of Coolfin are wonderful showcases and his beloved Gloucestershire is powerfully evoked in From Severn, by the Somme and a setting of local war poet Ivor Gurney's The Fire Kindled. The Winding Stair has already received national airplay and, from this outing, Coppin can feel confident that he is one folk revival survivor in whom interest will not only remain but also surely grow"
• Bill Bellamy

Stroud News and Journal - 27 April 2005
"Johnny's exquisite songs are well worth the wait. "The Winding Stair" is all one could hope for in a Johnny Coppin record: it is packed full of delicate folk balladry, exquisite settings of poems about Gloucestershire, and a palpable love of the landscape, spiced with a selection of surprisingly hard-edged songs. 'Susanna Martin' is a fine example of the latter;the lyrics are taken from the transcripts of the Salem witch trials in 1692. Also exceptional is 'Survival', a song about a Jewish survivor of the Second World War coming to terms with his daughter marrying out of the religion. From witch trials to ecological pleas, Dublin bookshops to lost orchards by way of a beautiful setting of Ivor Gurney's poem 'The Fire Kindled', every view, every song, is rich with its own splendours. It's been a time since Coppin released an album proper - but it was worth the wait."
• Adam Horovitz

Folk on Tap Review - July 2005
"A sparkling return to form, beautifully arranged by a studio band that includes the likes of Mick Dolan and Phil Beer. Johnny's voice is perhaps a little too MOR for dyed in the wool folkies, but he has the rare knack of taking a lyric, and squeezing out every ounce of meaning, while remaining effortless tuneful. The choice of material here is intriguing, ranging from poems by Mary Webb ö of "Precious Bane fame - and the troubled Great War survivor Ivor Gurney, to songs by Karine Polwart, Richard Shindell and the traditional "Donegal Rain'. But the title song is by Coppin himself, and a right cracker, commemorating a Dublin bookshop which was a centre for literary culture, so of course it has just been closed. Thank God the likes of Coppin keep the tradition going, and effortless match high and low culture. Someone should slap a preservation order on him. "

Folk Life West - Summer 2005 issue
" I first heard Johnny Coppin at the Swan Theatre, Worcester, when he had just released his 'Roll on Dreamer' LP which I still have. As then, he is a confident and competent performer and writer of songs with a clear understanding of the sorts of material which best suit his distinctive voice and relaxed manner. His latest CD reflects this fully with fine, often delicate tunes supporting sensitive and largely poetic words. The title track The Winding Stair, written by Johnny Coppin, is a pleasant song with an especially attractive bit of whistle work in the middle. The traditional Lakes of Coolfin doesn't easily lend itself to contemporary treatment, but Johnny does so agreeably. Susanna Martin is a stirring song, with words from the transcripts of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials. This requires careful listening as the mixing lets the instrumentals dominate in places; great track though. My favourite is Donegal Rain (Andy M Stewart) rightly described as a stunning song in the notes. A story of separated love which must win through in the end. From Seven by the Somme (Martin Graebe) is an excellent bit of writing with a captivating melody, sensitively arranged and performed. Paul Metsers wrote Peace Descends, a lovely song well-suited to the Coppin style, my second favourite of the CD. Co-performer Mike Silver wrote We Had it All and Johnny provided the music. It has (unusually) something of a predictable tune and the subject matter is probably diluted by over use. The Fire Kindled (Ivor Gurney words) has no ordinary tune by JC. Great song, fine words and haunting melodic refrains. Such a Night of Stars (Eamon Friel) is simply a pleasing love song with a lilting tune, very likeable. Finally The Lost Orchard. A beautifully descriptive poem by Mary Webb for which Johnny has created an equally beautiful and haunting melody. Lovely. If you 'think and feel' songs, buy this CD, you will not be disappointed.
• Eric Payne

York Evening Press - 30 June 2005
**** ( CD given 4 stars = good)
"Celebrated Cotswold singer-songwriter Johnny Coppin, formerly of Decameron, one of the mega bands of the folk revival, shows his muse is still burning brightly with this collection of songs. The title track was inspired by a bohemian bookshop and cafe in Dublin, while Reunion Hill evokes memories of the American Civil War and songs by The Band. Coppin's version of the traditional song Lakes of Coolfin is simply sublime, while We Had It All packs an ecological punch. Coppin also has the gift for setting poems to music. The Fire Kindled was written by First World War poet Ivor Gurney, while Coppin's melody gives a dreamlike quality to The Lost Orchard, written by Mary Webb- a song for all the lost orchards of England."
• Richard Foster

The Folk Mag
www.btinternet.com/~radical/thefolkmag - July 2005

Johnny Coppin: 'The Winding Stair'
"This CD opens with Reunion Hill (Richard Shindell), an excellent vehicle for Johnny's high, clear voice and distinctive guitar. Survival tells the tale of a troubled man who has great difficulty accepting his daughter's choice of husband due to his own personal memories of his past. It is an uneasy song, well written and performed. I know of few songs about bookshops but the title track The Winding Stair is one written with fondness and style. Lakes of Coolfin is a well known traditional Irish song and Johnny performs it with good taste, here accompanying himself on piano. Johnny's version of Donegal Rain (trad. arr. Andy M Stewart) is lovely and since it is a lover's parting song, bittersweet - accompanied by fiddle and piano. I have not yet heard Karine Polwart's version of her song (Best Original Song, 2005 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards - pardon my ignorance) but this version is cheerful and positive enough to cheer me up. What an excellent songwriter Martin Graebe is! His From Severn by the Somme has found a good home on this CD. The joint effect is sad, thoughtful and eerie. Geoff March accompanies Johnny on cello. I'm glad to see someone is still recording Paul Metzer's songs, in this case Peace Descends. This is an interesting mix of traditional and contemporary songs. We Had It All is a pro-ecology song written by Mike Silver who accompanies Johnny on guitar and vocals. The Fire Kindled is a First World War poem written by Ivor Gurney in France and set to music by Johnny. It has the distinct lost wistfulness of the temporarily homeless. This wistfulness is transferred in The Lost Orchard (Mary Webb/tune by Coppin) to the orchards that disappeared. This is a lovely record. Johnny picks good songs and he sings them well."
• John Denny

Dublin Evening Herald June 2005
"Light touches to landmark album"
"Just in time for the closing of the Winding Stair bookshop comes a CD to keep its name alive - His voice is on the light side but he uses it to fine effect on both his own songs and material by other contemporary songwriters. His version of the ballad The Lakes of Coolfin is particularly nice"

Mike Davies' Birmingham gig previews -Sept 2005
"While unlikely to find its way into the band (Decameron) set, it's worth pointing out that Johnny Coppin has his own new solo album out, The Winding Stair (Red Sky) a perfect example of his high quivering choirboy vocals, rustic folk-rock and sense of song dramatics. A mix of traditional numbers, covers and self-penned material, it opens with Richard Shindell's wonderful Reunion Hill, its evocation of the American Civil War finding WWI counterparts in a setting of Ivor Gurney's poem The Fire Kindled and Gloucestershire based songwriter Martin Graebe's haunting From Severn By The Somme. Leafing through the trad songbooks, there's gorgeous tranquil readings of Lakes of Coolfin and the parting lovers ballad Donegal Rain while Coppin's good taste for contemporary tunesmiths is also well represented by Karin Polwart's The Sun's Coming Over The Hill, Paul Metser's hymnal Peace Descends, and, from Mike Silver, Survival's tale of a Holocaust survivor trying to come to terms with his daughter marring a non Jew and the ecologically themed We Had It All. Elsewhere the Salem Witch trials provide the foundation for the trad-sounding folk of Susanna Martin while Coppin's own title track is a love song to a Dublin bookshop and The Lost Orchard (a setting of Mary Webb's poem) a wistful lament for all of England's vanished orchards and, by extension, a poignant observation on the loss of the more innocent times Coppin's music so richly evokes."

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT"S DREAM review summer 2005
from The Stage online www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/8556/a-midsummer-nights-dream
"The Festival Players have reverted to tradition with this entertaining open-air production, employing an all-male cast from a summer -long tour that has already embraced two performances in Berlin. No less an authority than Ralph Richardson once said that every part in the Dream was a joy to play and here director Michael Dyer's six-strong cast lend credence by rotating the roles with skill and panache. The emphasis is rightly on the humour but there is still room for a brief glimpse at the malevolence between Alan Milne's Oberon and Nicholas Gall's Titania and also in the lovers' baiting of Christopher Hollinshead's hilariously bewildered Helena. One of Dyer's best touches is to cast the mechanicals as red-capped schoolboys straight out of Greyfriars. His cue is taken from Peter Quince, in the guise of the schoolmaster, describing his leading player as Bully Bottom. Assisted by Martin Tomm's wholly cheerful interpretation of the role, it is the sort of ingenuity that decorates the largely knockabout proceedings without totally abandoning a sense of enchantment. Add in two spectacular fairies just the right side of camp from Nicholas Osmond and Hollinshead again, plus an attractive original score by Cotswold singer/songwriter Johnny Coppin, and it is easy to support Robin Goodfellow's goodnight exit line to his audience "give me your hands, if we be friends". It would be difficult not to be."
• Jeremy Brien

KEEP THE FLAME - CD Reviews 2004
"What do Christmas songs and music mean to you? In this modern day for many it's more than likely "Musak" that is piped through invisible speakers in the supermarket which intrudes your senses as you go about your festive shopping, then, as you go from shop to shop plastic in hand to purchase that all important pair of socks for Uncle Frankie, you start to realise that they are all playing the same CD, and more than likely it will be the one they give away with some Sunday tabloid, almost certain to include past Christmas number 1s! Whilst on the other hand newspapers will fill their pages predicting what will be number one in the pop music charts at Christmas and bookmakers will make a fortune from willing punters betting on the outcome.Sadly this is about as much for many what Christmas music means, sure they will squeeze in the odd Jingle Bells, but that's about it. Well, the good news is, Johnny Coppin has the antidote to what has become a very worldly festival. This short collection of fabulous songs has something that will appeal to everyone. Often, in a secular material world, it would appear that we have for the most part even managed to sideline the joy, the celebration, which should be experienced at this time of year. For many of us Christmas is a time of celebration a time for reflection, self-examination, and putting others before ourselves. This most definitely seasonal album of only seven tracks I am confident in only the first listening will restore the balance with it's simple but stunning arrangements, gentle melodies, but with moving and challenging lyrics which will both help you get the Christmas experience back into perspective, and leave you smiling. Keep The Flame is by no means a "preachy" intrusive album nor was it put out to make Coppin rich. This, his first recorded work for six years was put out to coincide with his ever popular Christmas tours titled Keep The Flame. I for one am grateful for the release, like many living out of the geographical area Coppin tours, having the album I have a taste of what others have been experiencing over the years. Opening with the eponymous Keep The Flame this poignant song with an undoubted Christmassy arrangement is a beautifully sensitive song, inspired by the premature passing of Coppin's wife Gillian has the clear message urging us to remembering those who are no longer with us, particularly at this time of the year. How many times have you spent a quiet moment at the festive time reflecting, shedding a tear, even smiling, often at the same time over those who have passed away? Been there? Well this song will massage your sadness away leaving you thankful it was penned in the first place. "Christmas is about children" is the oft-heard cry, in Dermott O'Leary's delightful "Children's Winter" Coppin hasn't forgotten his audience, a song that will put a smile on children of all ages. The longest track on the album Get Me Through December originally recorded by the wonderful Alison Krauss which include the lines,"Just get me through December A promise I'll remember Get me through December So I can start again"- Lyrics that many at this time of the year can identify with, and which Coppin really brings to life with his excellent and sincere vocal The international feel to this album found in the above track continues with "You Raise Me Up" a song learned from Irish/Norwegian duo Secret Garden, a song of great encouragement, which includes highly skilled recorder playing by Paul Burgess. The wonderful Christina Rossetti poem "Love Came Down At Christmas" with its sensitive festive arrangement by Coppin is a real gem. Bringing this festive breath of fresh air to a close is a "Galician Carol" written by the incomparable Carlos Nunez, here Paul Burgess comes into his own with a virtuoso performance on recorder in as lively a Christmas tune that you will find, a guaranteed foot-stomper of a tune, excellent stuff. Keep The Flame has everything a Christmas album should have, something to make you think, make you reflect, and above all make you smile. If you only buy one album this Christmas, make it Keep The Flame, I guarantee, you won't be disappointed."
• Hugh McKay - www.rootsreview.co.uk

Stroud News and Journal
"Christmas records tend towards the sacred or the profane- from hymns all the way down to Noddy Holder hollering irritatingly on every available speaker -but it is very rare for anyone to tread a sensible path between the two. Thank goodness then, for Johnny Coppin, who has returned after a 6 year break from recording with Keep the Flame, a tender CD of songs and carols dedicated to his son Ross, in memory of his late wife Gillian. There are songs celebrating the sort of snowy Christmases that all children dream of and should get the chance to experience, settings of poems- an exquisite version of Christina Rossetti's Love Came Down at Christmas- and lovely traditional tunes, all creating an atmosphere that should still the fiercest of family rows. Coppin is joined on the record by Paul Burgess and Mick Dolan as well as Geoff March and Dik Cadbury from Decameron. In a market place littered with commercial pap, this is one Christmas record that should stand the test of time: it neither preaches evangelically nor succumbs to the crasser Chrismas tendencies.
• Adam Horovitz - Stroud News and Journal

Keep the Flame CD Review in Living Tradition Magazine no. 56
Review of Oxfordshire concert 13th Dec 2003
"Manchester United delight Kingston Bagpuize and Southmoor residents with impressive display on the Millennium Green. Improbable? Perhaps, but that is exactly what happened in folk-music terms when Johnny Coppin appeared on 13 December at the latest of our village concerts. Paul Weaving and the Last Straw have introduced us to many excellent musicians over the years, but what places Johnny Coppin in the premier league is the sheer quality of his singing and playing, and the excellence of his song writing. His musical settings of English poetry are especially fine, and the album Edge of Day, produced in close collaboration with Laurie Lee, is a literary and musical gem. I must, though, admit to slight misgivings when I bought my ticket for 'Johnny Coppin's Country Christmas. It is all too easy for events described thus to become as kitsch as the inflatable Santa Claus which has been standing (or occasionally slumping) outside the entrance of a certain hostelry not a million miles from here since October. However, I need not have worried, for this was a splendid programme of contemporary and traditional music, ranging from contemplative and reflective pieces to rousing wassail songs which echoed well beyond the confines of the Village Hall - I confidently predict a significant boost to the crop of what remains of Kingston Bagpuize's apple orchards next year. Johnny's performance, with the able support of Mick Dolan (vocals and guitar) and Paul Burgess (vocals, keyboard, fiddle and recorder), was superb, and Paul's well-chosen series of seasonal readings between songs delighted everyone in the audience, with the possible exception of cat lovers. All in all, it was an evening which would compel even the most ardent Cromwellian to dash out and outbid the penitent Scrooge for the largest turkey in the market. It was not snowing when we left the hall at 11 p.m. but it should have been!
• Malcolm Bee

Review of Kingswinford concert - 3rd May 2002
"Hmm...Johnny Coppin; singer-songwriter, keyboards, occasional guitar, poems put to music a bit slow, a bit thoughtful. a bit of a cult following, it’s going to be full...shall I go? Oh go on...... I’m glad I did! I’m not sure whether time dimmed the memory or whether the last time I saw him it was one of those “theme” evenings: you know what I mean: Songs of Gloucester or a tribute to Laurie Lee. The sort of evening that appeals to aficionados, but not rousing entertainment for the masses. Whatever I was expecting I was wrong; the Johnny Coppin who appeared at The Woodman on 3rd May was everything a solo club act should be. From the minute he came on stage his professionalism shone through. He spent a couple of minutes carefully checking the equipment, picked up his guitar, smiled, made contact with the audience and started off with some strident guitar playing and lively singing. It was when he got to the second song that we realised it was going to be one of those great nights. We were all fully engaged with the first of many chorus songs “Say Hello to the Band”. The evening was an expertly balanced blend of chorus songs: “Liberty”, “Rydal”, “Border County Road” etc. and slower thoughtful numbers, usually played on the keyboard. One of the slower songs of note was a poem by Leonard Clark, “English Morning”, played on guitar - “the mushrooms heave themselves to dewy life” - incredible imagery. Johnny Coppin told us that we were the first folk club he had played in over a year- if anything that gave his performance an edge- was there any nervous energy there? There must have been, but it didn’t show. My overriding memory of the performance has to be the chorus songs. He really worked the audience and managed to pull some great harmonies- they were songs to raise the roof and by and large we succeeded. Were my prejudices justified? Only one - the room was full - and deservedly so."
• Bryn Phillips / the The Woodman Folk Club web-site.

The Shakespeare Songs
"Stroud based, sweet voiced singer/songwriter Johnny Coppin has finally bowed to public demand and recorded his wonderful folksy settings of songs from the comedies... A must for any devotee of either Coppin or Shakespeare."
• Mike Davies, What's On In Birmingham

The Gloucestershire Collection
"This album deserves a much wider audience. Not the pop charts; this is too good. Nothing has been stinted in the recording and mixing of this album, and a lot of care has obviously been taken to set the right mood for each poem, and to get the sound right. The mixture of styles is supremely accomplished, from the simplest of calling-on songs (Minsterworth Perry and Cotswold Tiles) to the most accessible of arrangements (This Night The Stars). This is real music, words and melodies, instruments and voices blended together to create a carefully crafted picture, an evocation of English countryside, vibrant and alive, music from the heart with soul and imagination, but with its mood and atmosphere painstakingly put together. No effort spared, no note wasted. I loved it. More please!"
• Dennis Welch, Tyke's News