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Beating Time
by Time Spanners


01 Oyez! (Featuring Rock n' Roll Town Crier Chris Brown)
02 Life Ago Go (Featuring Rocky on vocals)
03 La Rota (Anonymous 14th Century English / Italian tune, featuring Charles Spicer on English Bagpipes & Shawm)
04 Spanner Socca
05 Spanner Spirit
06 Come on You Spanners! / Match of the Day
07 Stingo (A traditional English tune - very popular in the seventeenth Century. Featuring Charles Spicer on pipe & tabor)
08 Vibrations (Music, in three sections, inspired by Richard Westall's celebration of music, read by the poet, himself.
i) Mozart
ii) Disco
iii) Speech Defeats / Celestial Bells


What people have said about Beating Time:

Taplas (Welsh Music Magazine), Autumn 2004
"Another community band - but with a difference: thirteen of its members have either a learning difficulty or a physical disability (Time Spanners, Beating Time, Circle of Sound COS323CD). Based in Berkshire and under the directorship of Mark T and Paul Midgely, they make a great noise, mixing funk, rock and break beats with sound of shwarms and bagpipes. Certainly the most interesting of the CDs I reviewed this month"

Newbury Weekly News, Main Feature, Summer 2004
"THE samba band Time Spanners has shed its community arts project image to become a “phenomenon” on the South East’s music scene. DAVID GILES speaks to founder member MARK T about the group’s first CD, Beating Time

THEY began as a community project to help people with learning disabilities, but now the Time Spanners are just known for their music. This is the most satisfying part of the job, says Mark T, a professional musician and founding member of the West Berkshire-based samba band. “People at festivals would hear the music we were playing and come over to dance. It was only them they realised it was a group of disabled people.”
Fans keep turning up to see the group, whose music blends samba, blues and rock and roll. They have performed all over the South East, but came from humble beginnings. “we started out a bit rough and ready but we’re becoming a phenomenon,” adds Mark.
The band began four years ago, starting of as part of Time Span, a Millennium run by Thatcham-based community arts project Circle of Sound, giving budding musicians – including the elderly, school children and people with learning disabilities – the chance to develop their talents. When the original project finished, the disability group wanted to carry on playing, and the Time Spanners were born in 2001.
Now the band has just released their debut album, Beating Time, a fast-paced album with relentless drum beats that litter the music like punctuation. “This CD is a fair reflection of our music” says Mark. “The first half is loud samba beats that we play in summer at outdoor festivals, and the second half is quieter chill-out stuff that is better for indoors.”
A wide range of influences appear on the album, from Hendrix guitar licks to Paul Simonesque folk music. Only the drums are ever –present, providing the infectious beats that have got people dancing throughout the South East.
Beating Time was released this month, and the band are now waiting to see if they can get a publishing deal which will make the record widely available. The initial signs are good. The CD is getting good airtime on local radio, and has been featured on television.
Mark, who organises rehearsals and holds workshops, plays in the band alongside fellow professional musician Paul Midgeley and about 20 disabled percussionists. All the musicians love playing, and their audiences love listening, says Mark: “I’ve never seen a group so committed. Everyone turns up to every rehearsal with amazing dedication.
“The people that watch us aren’t just supporting disabled musicians. We get booked for gigs and invited back year after year because people love our music.”
But as their status increases so does the pressure. “We don’t mess around. If someone isn’t performing we tell them. It can be a bit like Spinal Tap,” says Mark, who is used to the high pressure lifestyle of the music industry. He was a performing musician for eight years, touring England and Europe and releasing five albums of world music.
Mark plays guitar and keyboards in the band, but the 20 disabled musicians add plenty more musical texture. Along with saxophones, bagpipes, singers and drums there are two soundbeams – “invisible keyboards” that sound like synthesisers. They work by sensors making sounds that change in pitch by reacting to the player’s hand movements.
Mark says the Time Spanners performances are “guided improvisation”. The band decides what key they are playing in, and the style of the piece, and then work out a melody.
And it works. The band’s schedule is jam-packed over the next few months, including Thatcham arts festival in October."
David Giles