Issue 25 6/2003

FolkWorld CD ReviewsDog

The Duhks "Your Daughters & Your Sons"
Label: Own 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 incl. "Le 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.
The Duhks
Walkin' T:-)M

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 it.
D. Rangers
Walkin' T:-)M

John MacLean Allan "Stand Easy"
Label: Own 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
Walkin' T:-)M

Brian Kelly "Brian Kelly"
Label: Own 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.
Brian Kelly
Walkin' T:-)M

Pól Mac Adaim "If We Don't Help Them"
Label: Own 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 next time.
Pól Mac Adaim
Walkin' T:-)M

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 best.
Walkin' T:-)M

Kroke "Ten Pieces to Save the World"
Label: Oriente; 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 Express
Walkin' T:-)M

Harry Bradley "As I Carelessly Did Stray..."
Label: Phaeton/Claddagh; 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).
Claddagh Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Ian Smith "Restless Heart"
Label: Own label; 2002; Playing time: 40.29 min
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#8, FW#16, FW#24). And in the end, I'm sure, you will find some rest.
Walkin' T:-)M

Bill Jones Band "Live at the Live"
Label: Brick 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, Long John Moore, a set of songs made famous by the late Paddy Tunney, see news), often with new tunes (Tale Of Tam Lin, Stór 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
Walkin' T:-)M

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 Lament", "Some 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.
Walkin' T:-)M

From The Waterside "Old Mine Road"
Label: Own 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!
From The Waterside
Walkin' T:-)M

V/A "Songs of Irish Labour"
Label: Bread 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 Whelan, Johnny 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
Walkin' T:-)M

V/A "Doolin Point"
Label: Own 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), Kevin Crawford (-> FW#12, FW#21), Jackie Daly, Tim Dennehy (-> FW#24), Kevin Griffin, Martin Hayes, Gerry O'Connor, Kevin O'Doherty, Eoin O'Neill, Tommy Peoples, Kate Purcell, Pat Marsh (-> FW#9, FW#17), Chris Droney, The 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
Walkin' T:-)M

V/A "Legends of the Incredible Lap Steel Guitar"
Label: Horse 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
Walkin' T:-)M

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.
Colin Jones

Mike Silver "Solid Silver"
Label: 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 session musicians.
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 easily categorised.
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 very low."
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):, Contact to management (England):
Dai Woosnam

Máirtín Pheaits Ó Cualáin "Traditional Songs from Connemara"
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:
Jennifer Byrne

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:
Jennifer Byrne

More English CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4 - Page 5
More German CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2
Overview: CD Review Contents

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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 6/2003

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