THE CAMPAIGN THAT CHANGED THE LIVES OF MILLIONS
Tim Hunter is a proud Yorkshireman who has written, produced and performed on many albums associated with his native county’s rich heritage, history and folklore. He has also collaborated extensively with other musicians in performing and releasing melodic progressive rock music, notably with Silver Hunter.
Tim is playing at the Arthur Conan Doyle Centre near Haymarket Station in Edinburgh on the weekend of 22nd/ 23rd July, and also during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at the same venue with two shows daily from Monday, 21st August until Friday, 25th August at 15:00 and 18:30.
Tim has made an excellent video of the music from his latest album THE PROGRESSIVE CAMPAIGN on the very worthy topic of the abolition of the slave trade, telling the history through narration and music with a little help from some of his friends, of course!
The opening song ‘The Path’ has a lovely melody depicting the turning point of William Wilberforce’s life, imagining him sitting under a tree contemplating his future path: “What can I do? What can I be? What path should I take,” sings Tim, who plays the main character in the ‘play’. It is a neat encapsulation of the choices we all have to face in life.
So, Wilberforce has the money, and his friend William Pitt the Younger the connections, and he decides to stand as the third man to break up the’ stitch up’ gentlemen’s agreements prevalent at the time, and to force a vote, albeit to a very elitist electorate, to narrowly find himself one of the two candidates elected to Parliament, it was a history making vote as it turned out. The song ‘Put Your Trust in Me’ portrays William Wilberforce’s entry into political life.
Wilberforce reads a book that changes his life from a frequenter of gentlemen’s clubs to a more Christian and sober man, as depicted in the song ‘I Got Religion’. Tim’s fluid electric guitar lines and finely-tuned arrangements tell the story. Along the way we meet fascinating characters including ‘Equiano’, a Nigerian slave, who wrote an early example of abolitionist literature from the point of view of the victim. The sensitivity with which Tim approaches the delicate subject of slavery and the treatment of labourers at the time is noteworthy.
I was really taken by ‘Loyal to the Crown’ which addresses a question that has haunted history throughout the ages: gradual change from within or revolution? In the song ‘Don’t Give In’ Tim also addresses the ill-health Wilberforce was experiencing, and the role of John Newton, whose 1773 hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ ends the show, in persuading William to keep fighting the good fight.
There is a welcome reprise of ‘The Path’, and finally, The Slave Trade Act is passed in 1807. The song ‘Wilberforce’ includes many of the great man’s quotes and features some elegant synthesiser sequences. The crucial vote that led to the banning of slavery in the British Empire is vividly portrayed, with a touch of wry humour as Pitt and Wilberforce turn to one another and ask, “What shall we abolish next?” ‘I Lived to See the Day’ concerns John Newton himself, with reference to the passing of the Act.
THE PROGRESSIVE CAMPAIGN is an excellent album in itself, with Tim Hunter showing great mastery of the art of conceptual song writing and the skilful arranging of music. The video (and the shows to come) add a new dimension. Tim lives up to the challenge in his marvellous retelling and brings it all vividly to life in an informative and haunting series of words, music and pictures; a story that deserves the widest possible audience.