Issue 4 5/98
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Jennings & Ponder "World Tales - live at Bennigton College"
Label: Eastern Coyote Recordings; EPC 120; Playing time: 60.18 min
In today's world of hectic, computers, traffic jams etc. it is a pleasure to find ancient story telling traditions still alive. Tim Jennings and Leanne Ponder know well the skill to fascinate their audiences with traditional folk tales; and this works not only in live, but also on CD. On this album, the America based duo tells three tales - 'The White Bear' with Norwegian and Apalachian origins, 'The Juniper Tree' from Germany, collected by the Grimms, and 'The Toe Bone'. Completed is the album with a short instrumental on Concertina and Harp - and these instruments are also used during the tales, to get even more atmosphere into the stories. It is very much a duo story telling album, with exciting arrangements.
With this album, you can enter another world where time does not matter - if you don't believe that story telling can be absolutely fascinating, try this duo - they are brilliant!
Homepage, e-mail Tim
Label: Polygram Ibérica, Mercury 536 818-2; Playing time: 62.58 min
In Spain, their home country, Ketama are top stars, and they are beginnign to get known internationally as well (on their recent first German tour, several concert were totally sold out). Their music might be filed under Roots Pop/Rock - their roots being mainly Flamenco and Fandango. Many other influences come into the music: Soul, Jazz, Latin American and Carribean. Ketama are nowadays the three Carmona brothers (lead vocals/percussion plus two acoustic guitars); on the album they are joined by keyboards, drums, percussion and horns; for one song they are also having special guest Khaled, the chart topping Algerian Rai singer.
The songs are mainly their own compositions, and are good stuff to listen to; exciting are especially the parts with Flamenco guitar well integrated into the modern songs. One of the titles, 'No Estamos Lokos', with a warm Southern feeling in it, might - as they hope - become the German summer hit '98. I would appreciate that...
Ketama are doing good open minded Spanish Flamenco Rock
Label contacts: Polygram Ibérica (Germany: Motor Music tel 040 3087 626)
Tim Carless "It's a wonderful life"
Label: Mockin' Bird; MBCD003; Playing time: 51.13 min
This one is a romantic album. Tim is a Singer/Songwriter from Brighton/Southern England; all of this album is home made - Tim plays all instruments (guitars, bass, piano) and has engineered, produced, written and sung all the songs himself. Recorded at his home, this album has a relaxed atmosphere. Tims songs are about love, about betrayal; they are romantic, desporate, optimistic. Tim sing with a tremulous voice, sometimes a bit bluesy; and he knows well to arrange the song effectively in the right mood. Music for quite hours, great lyrics to day dream.
Cherish the Ladies "Threads of time"
Label: BMG/RCA Victor; 0 9026 63131 2; Playing time: 52.54 min
Cherish the Ladies are one of the few bands that have with every new album they bring out a new best one - though they always set high standards. "Threads of Time" is a real joy and pleasure from the first minute to the last. The instrumental skills of the six Irish American ladies are always present; Joanie Madden on flutes and whistles, MAry Coogan on guitar, banj and mandolin, Mary Rafferty on accordion, Donna Long on piano and Siobhan Egan on fiddle. My favourite tune of the album is 'Her Mantle so Green', with some haunting flute playingof Joanie and a superb solo piano part of Donna.
And then there are the songs - all in all five - sung by pretty Aiofe Clancy whose singing is getting more and more beautiful and sensitive all the time. For me the songs make up the highlight of this album - the beauty of 'The Ballad of the Fox Hunter' just takes me away; 'The Bergen' is a joy as well, and 'The Bonnie Light Horseman' provides a bit of surprise as it contains harmony a capella singing of Aiofe, Joanie and Donna.
With "Threads of Time", Cherish the Ladies mark also the happy departure from the American folk label Green Linnet to the major high profile label BMG, and the ladies nevertheless stay true to their traditional music. With the new label they also finally get the quality of the booklet they deserve: Many infos on songs and tunes, good layout and pretty cool design.
It's the best one of the Ladies so far - so go and get your copy!
Cherish The Ladies Homepage, RCA Victor homepage
The Benachally Ceilidh Band "Happy Feet"
Label: Smiddy Made; SMD610; Playing time: 65.17 min
All the classic Scottish ceilidh dances can be found on this recording, from Gay Gordons to Orcadian Strip the Willow, from Dashing White Seargeant to Canadian Barn Dance and diverse Walzes. The names of the sets are always the dance names, making it easy to take this CD to improve your dancing at home. The musicians, all from Tayside, are not unknown; the band features among others the twin fiddles of Pete Clark and Martin MacLeod and the talent of ex-Silly Wizard man Martin Hadden. They would have done better without the two songs (Dirty Old Town, Wonderful Tonight), but still it is a great album for your Home Ceilidh...
e-mail Smiddy Made
Pale Saarinen "Harmony of Spirit"
Label: Olarin Musiiki; OMCD81; Playing time: 44.53 min
A Finnish accordion album. Pale is a skilled accordionist and composer; his music sounds somewhere between Finland and warm and sunny Latin America. On his debut album, he is joined by his Open Air Band, with drums/percussion, bass and piano/keyboards, as well as by diverse other guests on diverse instruments and two singers. Sometimes the music is very powerful, sometimes more romantic; always without worries to make trips to other musical styles. Even in the two songs, everything is focussed on the accordion, and the skills of its player. If you like adventurous high quality accordion music, watch out for Pale!
Olarin Musiiki, Tel.+358-9 881 3227 Fax +358-9 804 3469
Mike & Mary Rafferty "The Dangerous Reel"
Label: Kells Music; KM-9509; Playing time: 52.10 min
Mike & Mary Rafferty are father and daughter playing together traditional Irish music in the distinctive East Galway style.
Mike was born in 1926and grew up in Ballinakill, East Galway. In 1949 he emigrated to the US, where he has lived ever since. His daughter Mary was born in Hasbrouch Heights, New Jersey, and while she grew up, Irish Music was always around at her home. Nowadays Mary is a member of the excellent all female Irish American band Cherish the Ladies.
On this album, Mike and Mary play lots of great tunes; you can feel in th music that they have played together for quite a while! Lots of reels and some jigs and hornpipes are played on flute, whistle and uillean pipes (Mike) and accordion, flute and whistle (Mary) with an excellent and tasteful backing on Piano, Guitar, Bodhran and Bouzouki (Gabe Donahue). Finest traditional music.
Mailto Kells Music
Abby Newton "Crossing to Scotland"
Label: Culburnie Records; CUL110D; Playing time: 57.14 min
A traditional Scottish music album - by a cellist! It is not that usual up to now that a cello is used in the folk scene, but it really works well. Abby Newton, both active in classical and traditional music, has joined on her debut album the likes of Alasdair Fraser (fiddle), Paul Machlis (piano) and a few others, but still it is a Cello album. This instrument gives a new feeling to the Scottish tunes - most of them are traditional -; it brings a new, unknown, a different beauty into the Scottish music; it sounds very harmonic, very much at the core of Scottish traditions. Still there is that bit of classical feeling coming already from the instrument itself.
It is good to hear that Abby enthusiatically advocates the revival of the cello in traditional Scottish music - it's because when you have once heard this album, you don't want to miss the instrument in the Scottish music scene...
Edward II "Zêst"
Label: Ock Records; OCKCD0044
Edward II are something really special and unique: The seven England-based musicians combine English and Celtic music with Reggae in such a genius way you would not think that it is possible. The most English instrument is Simon Cares melodeon, suddenly inmidst a Reggae song starting to play a traditional English tune. Another special thing are their brass instruments (sax and trombone) in some songs.
On Zêst (actually the ê does not have a Circumflex-accent, but a round one like a 'u') Edward II play many of the songs we know from their concerts, like 'Night Nurse', 'People get Ready' or 'Live Together'. All in all I would say the album is a bit over-produced, leaving some of their fresh live appeal out; the sound is more poppy, more for the big commercial market.
But still, there is plenty to enjoy; Edward II are that innovative and unique - they cannot bore the listener. Alone their Reggae version of the trad Wild Mountain Thyme is worth to get this album...
Mailto Edward II's contact Adastra
Magaret Stewart & Allan MacDonald "Fhuair Mi Pog"
Label: Greentrax; CD TRAX 138
On the Outer Hebrides Gaelic culture is still alive - this album showcases Gaelic music and song. Magaret Stewart from the Isle of Lewis is a traditional Gaelic singer who won the premier award for singing in the National Mod 1993; Allan MacDonald is a respected Gaelic piper and sings as well. They have put together an albumuniting the traditional Gaelic singer's style and the Gaelic pibroch piping. Listening to the album, you can feel that in many Gaelic tunes singing and piping are just different ways of expression, but both sound very similar in the style.
The titles with singing and pipes are the most outstanding ones of the album; though the a capella Gaelic Waulking and Love songs and the tunes - often accompanied by the young superb musicians Allan (fiddle) and Ingrid (harp, piano) Henderson and Iain MacFarlane plus Allan's brother Iain MacDonald (flute, whistle) and Nick Turner (bass guitar) - are highest quality as well. The nice booklet, by the way, is bilingual - in Gaelic and English.
Essential for lovers of Gaelic music.
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