Issue 25 6/2003
FolkWorld CD Reviews
The Duhks "Your Daughters & Your Sons"
label; DCD-001; 2002; Playing time: 48.56 min
"Your Daughters & Your Sons" is an apt title for this young kick ass folk
band from Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Duhks
are eclectic, but truly folksy Canadians, mixing the old and the new alike,
Irish/Scottish music, Appalachian old time, French-Canadian, and contemporary
songwriting. The fiddle of Tania Elizabeth clashes with the five-string banjo
of Leonard Podolak (clawhammer style -> FW#23).
Guitar player Jordan McConnell (a guitar he built himself) adds a strong foundation,
and Jessica Havey sings with the authority of an old master. Lively tunes, songs
Meunier et la Jeune Fille", "Leather
Winged Bat", "Trooper
and the Maid", "Pretty
Boy Floyd", "Bantry
Girl's Lament", and "Your
Daughters & Your Sons", of course. Young, talented, vigorous. I want more.
D. Rangers "D. Rangers"
Label: Dollartone; 365527-8663-002; 2001;
Playing time: 36.26 min
As much fun as can be, though the music is deadly serious. D.
Rangers from Winnipeg fuse bluegrass, old-time string band music, western
swing and pure, flat-out punk-rock craziness. Featuring the high lonesome
singing and banjo picking of head honcho Dink Jebkins. Guitar slinger Eldon
Maynes Sr. assd some of the flashiest chops this side of Nashville, and Dixon
Mason adds what can only be describes as crazy-assed mandolin lines. Holding
down the bottom end is "Uncle" John T. Plumeray, who sings harmony and lays
down rock-solid bass lines on the D. Ranger trademark "muck-bucket" bass.
There is not much to say about these mad Manitobans, just give it a try. I like
John MacLean Allan "Stand Easy"
label; jma101; 2002; Playing time: 47.26 min
John MacLean Allan originally hails
from Vancouver, Canada. Since born to Scottish emigrants, he took up bagpiping.
But when the family returned to Scotland, John went into guitar and rock'n'roll,
and he did consider the pipes not until he settled in Los Angeles. Since then
he added it to several films, including "Austin Powers II". "Stand Easy", featuring
members of Joe Cocker's band and the L.A. Scots Pipe Band, combines John's three
interests, bagpipes, Celtic and rock music. Personally I think that the instrumental
sets work best. John's own songs are a bit middle of the road, I suppose that's
meant to be, though the pipes are pushing blood into the performance. "Back
Home in Derry" gets an enjoyable treatment, the traditional Scots Gaelic
"Siuthadaibh Bhlachaidh" certainly would have most definitely been played
with electric guitars, bass and a slamming drum kit had they been around at
the time. The final track however, "Scotland", commemorating the recently
established Scottish Parliament, is much too pathetical then. I don't know if
John plays live with the same line-up. If so, it could be the hell of a row.
John MacLean Allan/Bagpipe Tamer Music
Brian Kelly "Brian Kelly"
label; BK CD 001; 2001; Playing time: 49.22 min
Maybe you heard Brian Kelly before.
The dance-trad fusion band Dance
to Tipperary produced "The
Fields of Athenry" single in 2001 as the Celtic Football Club anthem. Brian's
solo debut album was launched at London's Return
to Camden Town festival in 2001, but it didn't get the attention it deserves.
That's a great pity. The tenor banjo player from London learned from the famed
Brendan Mulkere (like fiddler Mick Conneely -> FW#21).
It's a selection of tunes which sound best on the banjo. There's the usual suspects
(have a look into O'Neill's or at the Bothy's repertoire), Reavy tunes ("Maudabawn
Chapel"), "Planxty Charles O'Con(n)or" (1710-90; who was taught the harp by
Carolan -> FW#20), and
even tunes I never heard of ("Lump of Pudding"). I thought some time about "The
Crib of Purchase" and I guess it's the tune usually called "The Crib of Perches"
(which is a good catch of fish and makes more sense; recorded by The Duhks as
well, see review above). Brian's own "Brian Kelly's No. 1" is a cool, rather
relaxed reel, stressing the characteristics of the banjo. On guitar we find
Paddy Gallagher, John Blake on flute and piano (-> FW#23),
and sister Martina Kelly on fiddle. Stuff not only for the five string aficionado.
Pól Mac Adaim "If We Don't Help Them"
label; 2002; Playing time: 31.28 min
Belfast singer/songwriter Pól Mac Adaim
works in the Christy Moore style and
genre (early 1980's I'd say). His warm voice almost contradicts his outspoken
Republican and left wing stance. Interspersed with some whistle tunes (his version
of the "Belfast Hornpipe" reminds me of the latest marching season rather than
to a swinging dance tune) and the pipes of Patrick Martin, "If We Don't Help
Them" comments on today's struggles in Belfast and anywhere (just as other artists
supported the blanket protest 20 years ago -> FW#23).
Pól sings about hunger strikers in the Turkish "F Blocks", concerning the possible
accession to the European Union, as long as the Fascists are in control there,
they come closer to you and to me. Rosemary
Nelson, the lawyer and human rights defender assassinated by a car bomb
in 1999, is the Rose of Armagh. "Well Below the Valley" is rendered in
the bodhran only version, established by Christy. (Pól organised the music in
Peter Mullan's "Magdalene Sisters"
and played in the band at the start of the film, which kicks off with "Well
Below the Valley".) That's music probably as far from the zeitgeist as can be,
but isn't that folk music at all. Half an hour is a bit short, but, as they
say, good goods are tied up in small parcels. However, please include the words
Pól Mac Adaim
The Paperboys "Tenure"
Label: Stompy Discs; STOMP 10101; 2002; Playing
time: 73.08 min
The Paperboys play Celtic merry-go-round
folk pop from Vancouver, Canada. One of the top Celtic and Roots band on the
circuit, at least in Canada, but over here in Germany introduced as well. The
10th anniversary is celebrated with 18 tracks, the best of the three albums
"Late as usual" (1994). "Molinos" (1997) and "Postcards" (2000 -> FW#20).
Incredible memories and a few I'd rather forget, says singer and guitar
player Tom Landa. It was a stack of Spirit of the
West and the Smiths records
that started the band to fuse Celtic, Folk and Pop in a music scene thriving
on male angst, grunge and flannel. Tom wanted to come up with a sound
that blended all of our interests - Celtic, Bluegrass, Latin, African, and Eastern
European - but could still get play on the radio. Not that becoming a pop band
was our ultimate goal, but I believed (and still do) that Top 40 radio is mostly
full of shit and could use a good dose of ethnic and roots music. Besides
the good ol' Paperboys' hit songs, featured are ditties like "Jessie
James": We originally put it together for a Woody Guthrie tribute concert.
Months later we found out that the `Jessie
James' written by Woody and this version are two completely different songs.
(It's the one the Pogues also recorded.) O'Kane's "If I Could Be There" is followed
with a gorgeously slowed down "Banshee
Reel" at the end. (The reel was written by James McMahon and is originally
called after him, for some mysterious reasons Planxty
named it The Banshee when recording it, the name sticking to it ever since.)
Bob Dylan's All
Along The Watchtower is mixed with the Musical
Priest reel and sounds like it was always a Celtic tune. Folk rock at its
Kroke "Ten Pieces to Save the World"
RIENCD45; 2003; Playing time: 51.14 min
The Yiddish word Kroke means Cracow
and the group was created in 1992 in the same city on the initiative of three
graduates of the Cracow Academy of Music: Jerzy Bawol (accordion), Tomasz Lato
(double bass), and multi-intrumentalist Tomasz Kukurba (violin, flutes). Kroke
concentrated on unique compositions and a new sound, largely unheard in Jewish
music. The ten instrumental and original pieces "to save the world" is a soundtrack
to ten short movies and the titles say it all: Desert, Cave, Take It Easy, Hope,
etc. This is not your typical klezmer music. In deed, I wonder if it's klezmer
music at all, except in the widest sense with its sometimes lonesome feel. I
can hear a lot of world music influences, East European and oriental sounds,
sometimes Cracow seems to be at the River Seine or close to the Mediterenean
Sea. And it's ambitious as well: Deep in our hearts we know that if anything
could save this world it's music. However, this CD may not save the world -
but it will make the world a bit better for those who are ready to listen with
an open heart.
Oriente Musik; Distribution: Oriente
Harry Bradley "As I Carelessly Did Stray..."
SPINCD1005; 2002; Playing time: 44.08 min
Harry Bradley was born in Belfast, but
is based in the south of Ireland for a while. His whistle and flute playing
is sought after, e.g. featured on Altan's "Blue Idol" (-> FW#22).
"As I Carelessly Did Stray" originally is the title from a Ciaran
Carson poem, and Harry strays around whistling mostly reels, a few jigs,
plus the odd barndance, hornpipe, highland, polka and march. Excellent flute
playing, to the point. To add some details: Harry plays D and Eb flutes, marching
band flute and C whistle. Help comes from John Blake (guitar, piano -> FW#23),
Seamus O'Kane (bodhran), Anthony McGrath (bouzouki), plus Jesse
Smith (fiddle, see review above), Paul O'Shaughnessy (fiddle), and Seosamh
Ó Neachtain (hard shoe steps).
Ian Smith "Restless Heart"
Label: Own label; 2002; Playing time: 40.29
Ian Smith is a born Scotsman who chose to live in The Rosses in the uttermost
North West of Ireland. The quiet landscape might fit to his restless heart,
far away from the "Big City" where no one stops to say hello. Though
Ian is promoter of traditional music and organizer of the Frankie Kennedy Winter
School (-> FW#21) -
I've known Ian as accompanist to traditional Scots fiddler Stephen Campbell
(-> FW#20) -, his heart
is beating for his contemporary and original songwriting. Ian stays middle of
the road, though it's an Irish boreen now. Except of James Taylor's "Frozen
Man", everything is Ian's own. Personal insights, we started like a hurrican
rising from the fire, and like a rainbow the love just fades away, the social,
I'd rather be an immigrant there than a statistic on a government chart,
and political commentary, the marching bands won't be reconciled while they're
marching on different sides. We find an angel in disguise working
in the background, called Karen Matheson (-> FW#3,
FW#24). And in the
end, I'm sure, you will find some rest.
Bill Jones Band "Live at the Live"
Wall Music; Brick 004CD; 2002; Playing time: 62.22 min
Bill (Belinda) Jones (-> FW#23)
from Sunderland plays traditional and acoustic music from the British and Irish
tradition (e.g. Manchester Angel,
John Moore, a set of songs made famous by the late Paddy Tunney, see news),
often with new tunes (Tale Of Tam Lin,
Mo Chroí), and songs from contemporary songwriters (Kate Bush's "Never
Be Mine") or her own ("Panchpuran", Hindi for "a mix of five spices", tells
the experiences of Bill's mother from India). "Live at the Live" means live
and alive from the Live Theatre in Newcastle, containing band arrangements of
songs from her previous albums. The band is Roger Wilson (fiddle, guitar), Miranda
Sykes (bass), Keith Angel (percussion), and Bill herself on piano and with her
pure vocals. Bill puts together old and new alike in a very creative way, e.g.
take the words of the Irish traditional song Stór
Mo Chroí, the chorus of the Scottish "Boatsong" and add a tune of her own.
Bill Jones is the up and coming folk star, hopefully. I must think of Cara
Dillon (and the hype around her) as a comparison. But whereas Cara always
sounds the same to me, I never get bored with Bill Jones.
Bill Jones/Brick Wall Music
Tinkers With Talent "Tinkers With Talent"
Label: Greencottage Productions; TLFCD001;
2003; Playing time: 50.29 min
Terry Free is a born Londoner. His father sang traditional and music hall songs,
as did his father before him, and so does Terry. Way back in 1970, he married
to Auckland, New Zealand, still performing as an unaccompanied singer. In 1998
he teamed up with Jo Taylor (vocals, guitar, bodhran, harmonium) and Jono Lonie
(fiddle, uilleann pipes) to revitalise some songs and tunes from the British
tradition (and the occasional instrumental set written by Jono himself). That
means songs such as "Slaves
Old Salty", "Seven
Yellow Gypsies", "The
White Hare of Howden", "Matt
Hyland". Terry's voice is not the most pleasing, but nevertheless fitting.
And, mind you, concerning folk songs, this is the real thing and God save these
songs from the operatic art. Well done.
From The Waterside "Old Mine Road"
label; 2003; Playing time: 46.46 min
"From The Waterside" is actually Steven Jensen from Blind River, Ontario, Canada.
An instrumental music project performed on the keyboard. Simple tunes, but sounding
rather bombastic with the instrument in question, folksy titles such as "Grassy
Fields", "Long Walk to Town", or "Wintertime". Is it folk music? Folklike? Really
I don't know. Just follow the link and decide yourself!
V/A "Songs of Irish Labour"
and Roses; BRPCD01; 1998; Playing time: 39.07 min
To think of Ireland and labour songs is not very high on anyone's agenda, I
suppose (I can't even recall any traditional working songs as in Scotland).
The struggle for independence and the following civil war in the early 1920's
and the polarisation of politics around the national question established a
political culture different from other European countries, where social and
economic divisions provide the basis for political representation. But, mind
you, there was Big
Jim Larkin (1876-1947), who successfully unionised most unskilled workers
in Belfast in 1907, both Protestant and Catholic, and for a short time succeeded
in bridging the sectarian divide. He founded the Irish Transport and General
Workers Union in Dublin, when malnutrition, disease and high mortality rates
were rife in Dublin's slums, and he organised the series of strikes culminating
in the lock-out of 25,000 workers in 1913. There was James
Connolly (1868-1916) who formed the first Irish socialist party in 1896
and was in command of the General Post Office during the armed rising of Eastern
1916. Most infamous that he was shot by firing squad while tied to a chair,
as he was so badly wounded that he could not stand.
No wonder there is a tradition of Songs
of Irish Labour and singers like Martin
Flood, and SIPTU-President Des Geraghty
(he once wrote a biography on Luke
Kelly, of whom is said that he gave a voice to the unemployed; he gave
a voice to the worker; a voice to the person on the streets of Dublin, F.
Harte). Connolly had written a number of ballads ("A
Rebel Song", "The
Watchword of Labour"). "Dublin City 1913" by Donagh MacDonagh (whose great
ambition it was to have a song accepted into the tradition without anyone really
remembering who had written it, well, Christy Moore put this song in his bio
reading author unknown) recalls the great lock-out. Ewan MacColl's "Ten
Young Women and One Young Man" is the story of Dunnes Stores shopworkers,
a major grocery chain, who refused to serve South African goods in 1984 in support
of the boycott to end apartheid. Peadar Kearney, uncle of Brendan and Dominic
Behan, and writer of the Irish national anthem, is featured with the "Labour's
Call". It is set to the hymn-tune "Maryland," better known today as the tune
of "Oh Tannebaum".
This brings me to the most famous of English-language labour songs, "The
Red Flag". Jim Connell
(1852-1929) from Kilskyre, Co. Meath, wrote it in 1889 in London. At that
time the atmosphere was charged with revolution. There was a lot of talk about
Russian Nihilists and Chicago Anarchists. The Dock Strike had taken place in
the autumn of 1889. I had shaken off Fenianism and had taken a hand in founding
in Poplar a branch of the Land League of Great Britain. Although he wrote
it to the tune of the Jacobite song "The White Cockade", it was set to "Tannebaum"
in 1895, which reminded G.B. Shaw of the funeral march of a fried eel.
Connell remarked: The song must have a martial air. Maryland is essentially
church music, and that is why people are complaining of its depressing effect
on them. They know that there is something wrong with it, but do not know what
it is. In 1924 the British Labour Party tried to replace the anthem, but
Irish tenor John McCormack and Glaswegian
choir leader Hugh
Roberton realized that none of the 300 entries could match the song. Recently
Tony Blair turned against the song again (who wonders?). But in 1998 a monument
for Connell was unveiled in Crossakiel, near his birthplace.
While today the Celtic Tiger roams Dublin streets and globalization lurks around
the corner, Helena Sheehan
of University College Dublin believes that the world belongs to those who
labour by hand and by brain, and not to those who parasite upon their labour.
I believe that the labour movement should draw strength from its past, even
while grasping the ever more sophisticated challenges of its future. Or
in the words of Connolly: No revolutionary movement is complete without its
poetical expression. Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant, singing
of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the most distinct marks of a popular
revolutionary movement; it is a dogma of a few, and not the faith of the multitude.
They say, some music is sweet but not wholesome. This might be not particularly
sweet, but puts butter on your bread - and no mistake.
Bread and Roses Productions
V/A "Doolin Point"
label; 2002; Playing time: 50.51 min
Tony O'Loughlin organised the first one in 1992. `Matt will play if we ask
him nicely.' We did and he did. So did 15 other acts. The concert finished at
2.30 AM in the hall and at 7.30 in the bar, just in time for breakfast.
Matt Molloy (-> FW#13,
Fw#22) did, and so
did many others. "Doolin Point" is a live CD, featuring the best of Divers'
Nights, a series of concerts held between 1992 and 2000 presented by the Burren
Sub Aqua Club, which managed to get many of the key players in Irish traditional
music to play at annual concerts in Ennistymon and Liscannor. It cannot be more
than mere name dropping: Donal Clancy (-> FW#22),
(-> FW#12, FW#21),
Tim Dennehy (-> FW#24),
Kevin Griffin, Martin Hayes, Gerry
O'Connor, Kevin O'Doherty, Eoin O'Neill, Tommy
Purcell, Pat Marsh (-> FW#9,
Lahawns. When I lately wrote on Doolin tourism (-> FW#24),
I'd say it's not that bad. Music in Clare is vibrant, growing and lots of
fun. Just use the by-roads. Or take a deep breath and dive in.
Burren Sub Aqua Club
V/A "Legends of the Incredible Lap Steel Guitar"
Rock; HRCD 10000; 2002; Playing time: 49.03 min
The Lap Steel Guitar differs from a regular guitar in the way it is played.
It is held in the lap facing toward you. Rather than pressing the strings to
the fretboard, a steel bar is pressed against the strings. Typically the lap
steel guitar is tuned in "open" tuning rather than standard guitar tuning. They
were originally invented and popularized in Hawaii, but the sound was soon picked
up and incorporated into blues and country music. Eventually the lap steel guitar
"slid" its way into rock and pop and world music. Likewise, this compilation
features a range of different styles: folk, country, western swing, even a tango.
This music, better: these different kinds of music, can be quite some kitschy
at times (examples are abound and some are featured here as well), but in the
right hands it can express the full spectrum of feelings, especially in the
blusier modes (included here too). To give you some names: Bob
Brozman, Ken Emerson, Orville
Johnson, Jeff Lang, Harry
Manx, Tom Morrell, Stacy
Phillips, Herb Remington,
Bobbe Seymour, etc. So put the baby
in your lap and slide away!
Horse Rock Records
Bareley Works "The Big Beat"
Label: Cooking Vinyl; COOKCD024
E II "Let's Polkasteady"
Label: Cooking Vinyl; COOKCD007
You can tell when a record label is successful - they start re-issuing their
early releases in budget format (both these releases have a RRP of £6), hopefully
to a whole new generation of fans. This may not be the case here since neither
of these bands are still alive, but their recorded legacy is very much worthwhile
and deserves a hearing by those too young to have caught them first time round.
The E2 album was, as the catalogue number would suggest, one of the first releases
on the then fledgling label. A raucous mix of English Country Dance and reggae,
the band became a well-loved festival stalwart for a number of years before
changing personnel and the sheer drain of keeping a ten-piece band on the road
finally killed them off. Here is the first, Stradling family-based burst of
enthusiasm that signalled their arrival, still full of wit and great tunes some
20 years on. Rod's melodeon work in particular is worth the price of admission
on its own.
The Barelies, as they were affectionately known, were one of the staple acts
of the 80's pub circuit, regular visitors to my local venue the Weavers in North
London, and a much better and tighter outfit than they were often given credit
for. This album, the first and best of the three they ended up making for Cooking
Vinyl, shows off the breadth not only of their instrumentation but also of their
imaginations. Whilst wild-haired fiddler Alison Jones provided the on-stage
focus, the quality of Chris Thompson's banjo, Sarah Allen's flute/accordion
combo and in particular Matt Fox' hammer dulcimer kept the musical pedigree
up in the first division. As one by one these key members left, the musical
heart of the band was drained, and when Alison herself decided it was time,
the band quietly folded. However, this first album would constitute at least
75% of a 'best of' album, and is worth £6 of anyone's money. Their overhaul
of the Geordie favourite 'Byker Hill' featured here became their signature tune
and was the highlight of the live set. Ah, fond memories!
Note to Cooking Vinyl - whilst I appreciate the economics of these re-releases,
using the original artwork alone isn't enough, either for those who remember
these albums or those who've never heard them before. Some contemporary quotes
and a short journalistic career retrospective would be well worth the investment,
and give these acts the treatment they and these albums deserve.
Mike Silver "Solid Silver"
Stockfisch Records; SFR 357.6026.2; 2003; Playing Time: 52.31 min
Can there be anyone left who does not know the voice of Mike Silver? As an almost
exact contemporary of his, I doubt if there is anyone of MY vintage at least,
who has not, time and time again, just closed our eyes and allowed the plaintive
beauty of his high tenor voice to just float us away on his magic carpet of
acoustic guitar and (in this case) the accompanying sound of some very fine
But for you youngsters reading this, let me try and exactly "place" the voice
in the vast range of well-known Folk voices. Well, Mike's timbre always makes
me think of that wonderful singer so redolent of a sepia-coloured England of
country lanes and warm beer: Johnny Coppin. But the voice is not quite as ethereal
as Coppin's: it is somewhere between Coppin and the more earthy tenor voice
of - say - an Eddie Walker.
But what the heck! Let's not worry about "placing" the voice: the question is
whether the voice is on top of its form. And the answer is an emphatic "yes"!
Before I played this album, I noted that one track "Not A Matter of Pride" had
achieved some airplay on mainstream BBC Radio2. It is a song with a pleasant
melody and a sweet hook, and a certain "je ne sais quoi", and with one absolutely
arresting line (describing someone who is not listening): "But he's five cans
down a six-pack". Great!! (I bet that line was the line that jumped out at the
Radio2 deejays, and made them select the track.)
I played this album five times all the way through. Just listening to the man
sing was so darned enjoyable. He is ably assisted by some luminaries on the
German folk scene. It is almost invidious to pick anyone out, but multi-instrumentalist
Beo Brockhausen impressed not just with his astonishing versatility, but with
his authoritative playing throughout. And Hans-Jörg Maucksch's fretless base
ALWAYS demonstrated a real musical intelligence.
Most of the songs are written by Mike. Their subject matter commendably runs
a considerable gamut: "falling in and out of love; returning home suddenly from
a truncated tour; moving out of a shared house; his mother spending her last
days in a nursing home looking back to the days when her children were small;
homesickness; loss of custody of children following an acrimonious divorce;
and two songs more cryptic than to easily yield up their meaning so as to be
And the album is handsomely produced with some attractive liner notes, and a
full set of lyrics. As for the liner notes, they have that nice touch of the
"idiosyncratic" that I find endearing. At the end of the lyrics for track 7
we read the following: "NB: You may hear a slight rattle from Mike's guitar
in a number of places during the song. It is because the instrument was tuned
And then there's his nice witty remark with regard to track 8, "Southern Hemisphere":
a song where he describes the homesickness that overtook him when performing
at the Christchurch Folk Festival, in South Island, NZ:
"I mean you can't get any further from England than New Zealand. If you go any
further, you're on your way back!"
Lovely. There are other things to applaud, but I haven't the space. However,
I guess that those with keen antennae can sense a "but" lurking here, and there
sure is one. And alas it must come out. I would be failing in my duty as a reviewer
if I did not present it to you, dear reader (and potential CD buyer).
I think part of the clue to what follows comes in his introductory notes to
track 5, "Leaving Song". He says the following:
"I heard James Taylor interviewed on radio and it was mentioned that he had
just ended a marriage."
Now, STOP! What does that mean exactly? Ended his own (JT's) marriage, by asking
for a divorce? Or did JT end someone else's (by - say - committing adultery)?
You might say, what does it matter? And in a sense, you'd be right. But alas,
this lack of precision with words, finds its way into too many of his lyrics.
Heavens, we aren't looking for a Kristofferson or a Ewan MacColl here, but one
would like more of a sense that words are paying their rent in every one of
his lines, rather than just the occasional one.
And then we come to his ability to write a melody. Unquestionably ALL his tunes
are easy on the ear. But here is the puzzle: how is it that a man with such
a beautiful voice cannot really come up with a tune that will (if I can borrow
from Sir Edward Elgar's description of the melody of "Land Of Hope And Glory")
"knock 'em flat!"
Well, that's a bit unfair of me. The fact is that his tune for "Reaching Out
For Love" (his setting for lyrics by Ewen Curruthers) is perhaps a bit of stunner.
So that's me put in my place!
Let's hope he puts me in my place more often in the future.
Contact to management (Germany): email@example.com,
Contact to management (England): Booking@faymus.co.uk
Máirtín Pheaits Ó Cualáin "Traditional Songs
Label: Clo Iar-Chonnachta;
No. cicd 153; 2002; Playing time: 66.59 min
Still reeling with horror at the recent Sinéad O'Connor attempt, it was quite
a tonic to receive this undiluted collection of actual sean-nós from a true
master of the art. Now in his eighties, Máirtín Pheaits, as he is known, comes
from a long line of traditional singers. He entered and won the men's sean-nós
competition at Oireachtas na Gaeilge in 1944, but did not enter again for another
57 years, until 2001, when he walked away with the prize again.
One can only imagine the store of songs Máirtín Pheaits must hold, so really
this album is but a glimpse into what must be a vast personal collection. It
is a truly beautiful record - stark in presentation, but warm in vocal content.
The often tragic lyrics (note, for example, the lovelorn lyrics of the female
narrator of "Bádóirín Thír an Fhia") are delivered in such a straightforward,
no frills manner, that they are rendered all the more poignant. The breadth
of his scope is evident in the easy transition between songs such as "An Caisideach
Ban", a monolithic, 15 minute recitation of the tale of the priest, Cassidy,
who roved Ireland in search of the fair maid who was the subject of his desire,
and a charming, leisurely version of "I'll Take you Home Again Kathleen".
This is a timeless record of substance, unadorned and unfettered.
Contact to label: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christopher Delaney "Christopher Delaney"
Label: Goodlife Music; No. glm 1008; 2002
Dublin-born Christopher Delaney certainly counts a number of respectable musicians
among his associates, several of whom appear on this, his fourth album, including
Gaye Woods, Brian Dunning and Terry Corcoran. "Brighten Up My Days" contains
no end of very decent musicianship - Delaney himself plays mandolin, banjo,
guitar and bodhrán - all liberally sprinkled over a diverse selection of traditional
and Delaney-composed songs and tunes.
But the focus of this record is Delaney's vocals, and this is my basic complaint.
A fine musician he may be, but Delaney's singing is, at best, mediocre. He certainly
lacks the ability to carry a whole album on his own vocals alone. Look no further
than the thoughtless, unimaginative, butchery of Van Morrison's "And It Stoned
Me". Gaye Woods manages to spice things up admirably with her vocal support
on several songs, but without her things become fairly bland.
Contact to label: GoodLife@oceanfree.net
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