The reunion of this classic band came about after the discovery, in early 2011, of some previously unheard live recordings made by their former sound engineer on a couple of cassette tapes that have languished in the back of his wardrobe for the last 25 years. These recordings, made at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1986, exhibit a power and commitment that was never fully captured in the studio, so a live album release immediately became inevitable. With an album to promote, live performances were the obvious next step. So, with everyone truly inspired by the might of these recorded performances, Home Service is once again back in business.
Home Service was originally formed from the creative nucleus of the Albion Band line-up that produced the classic “Rise Up Like the Sun” album, singer and songwriter John Tams feeling the need to explore more contemporary themes in his writing and its musical interpretation. Songs like “Walk my Way”, “Alright Jack” and ”Sorrow” were anthemic observations on the unfairness of Thatcherite Britain and its social inequalities. The crushing irony is that they sound as potent now as they did then, thereby making this band’s work as relevant as ever.
Home Service was also born out of a desire to work with a brass section, an idea which emerged when trumpet player Howard Evans joined the Albion Band to work on Bill Bryden’s original production of “Lark Rise” at the National Theatre.
During its relatively short life in the mid-eighties, Home Service produced three albums (all still available from Fledg’ling Records), headlined at major festivals including Cambridge, Cropredy and Dranouter. They toured extensively, but were probably seen and heard by the greatest number of people when they provided music for the National Theatre’s highly acclaimed production of “The Mysteries”. This epic trilogy adapted by poet Tony Harrison, ran for many years at the National and Lyceum Theatres, was filmed for television and reprised for the Millennium Celebrations. One of the band’s three albums is derived from the music for this production.
The third album, “Alright Jack”, as well as featuring some of John Tams’ most socially aware songs, also boasts one of the band’s finest achievements, their reworking of composer Percy Grainger’s “Lincolnshire Posy” orchestral suite. Here, the band reinterpret the work, imagining how Grainger may have presented it decades later, using the instruments, technology and rock rhythm section of a new musical era.