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The Kittiwakes
Rallion
Rachael McShane
Various Artists, Borders Tunesmiths
Sean Taylor
Fiona J Mackenzie
Catherine MacLellan
Stockholm Lisboa Project
Red Shoes
Anne Gomez
Elowen
George Papavgeris
Mary McPartlan
No Fixed Abode
Jack the Lad
Lindisfarne
Luke Plumb
Oxford Fiddle Group
Rachel Hair
2 DUOS
The Doonan Family Band
Oysterband
Cara Dillon
Jim Malcolm
Gathering
The Occasionals
Cosmic Piper
Mick Groves
MaClaine Colston & Saul Rose
Give Way
Fairport Convention
Terence O’Flaherty & Paul Cunningham
Tony McManus
Steeleye Span

The Kittiwakes

Lofoten Calling (Midwich Records)

Lofoten Calling is the brainchild of The Kittiwakes' lead vocalist and violin player, Kate Denny, inspired by the landscapes, wildlife and traditions of the Lofoten Islands, an archipelago in the county of Nordland, Norway, that lies within the Arctic Circle. Lofoten Calling sets these inspirations in a melodious landscape that draws heavily on the traditional music of both Britain and Norway, though the music and lyrics are all original. There is something enticingly eccentric about the music and performance here, that is sure to set this recording apart from anything else you will hear. The arrangements are refreshingly honest and unfussy, remaining true to the actual sound of the instruments, resulting in a delightfully uncluttered listening experience.

The sounds of maritime traditions chime proudly throughout Lofoten Calling, largely thanks to the fluid and illuminating accordion of Chris Harrison, adding much depth with its bass notes, whilst accommodating the more nimble melodies with great aplomb. The vocal arrangements are nothing short of inspired, with robust and alluring harmonies. Kate Denny's precise and penetrating vocals are delightfully animated, flooding her stories with whimsical character, whilst the more resonant tones of Jill Cumberbatch provide the perfect foil, and more than the occasional nod towards the illustrious Maddy Prior. Various string instruments are plucked and bowed with great elegance and purpose, and an occasional piano brings a refined touch.

By bringing together the folklore and natural history with the personal lives of the Lofotens' past and present, Kate Denny has crafted a collection of lyrics that offers a bewitching insight into this unique landscape. The islands' maritime and fishing industries feature heavily, where songs pay tribute to the work ethic and the inevitable love and loss that accompanies such enterprise. The unique natural characteristics of the area are represented by songs about the maelstrom, the long days of midsummer, and the long nights of midwinter, whilst "Lynx" offers a fanciful folkloric take on how nature conspired to create the Lofoten Islands.

Lofoten Calling is a unique endeavour that rewards with both fine musicality and the rich imagery that is woven by Kate Denny's inspired lyrics, that should rightfully win a place amongst the best folk releases of 2009.

Web Site

Reviewer Mike Wilson Mike’s Blog Page

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Rallion

One For Sorrow (Big Sky, 2009)

Scotland-based Rallion, follow up their début album of 2006, For No One And Everyone, with this bold and vibrant collection, that leaves a truly indelible impression from the very first listen. Rallion are a four-piece band with a sound that carries the force of a much larger ensemble. At the heart of this intensity lies the rock inclinations of Stevie Lawrence, a formidable presence on guitar and bouzouki, who brings immeasurable drive to the band's traditional sounds. The twin fiddles of Fiona Cuthill and Andrew Lyons combine to provide some of the album's most fluid and exhilarating moments, whilst Marieke McBean sings with the fervour and abandon of a wild banshee. The strength of One For Sorrow is undoubtedly its raw, live qualities; the authentic, unadulterated sound of music being played with a wholehearted passion and enjoyment.

One For Sorrow offers a veritable feast of traditional and self-penned material, and their own compositions reveal an impressive talent for writing alongside their formidable playing skills. Fiona Cuthill's "Waiting For Dawn" is a most beautiful, mournful piece of music, that perfectly captures the solitude and insecurities of the early morning hours, during which it was written, to yield a piece of music that is extraordinarily moving. Andrew Lyon's "Askival" was written after the band's performance at the Rum Festival, and the closing tune of the set captures well the chaotic, carefree zest of a festival atmosphere.

The exotic rhythms of Egypt are conjured up on Stevie Lawrence's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Fez," a tune whose droll title belies its intricate and perceptive demeanour. Marieke McBean sings with unerring commitment throughout, be it on the rowdy Dutch drinking song, "Wat Zullen We Drinken," or on the stirring a cappella interpretation of Robbie Burns' "Lassie Lie Near Me." In fact, it is Marieke's rumbustious insouciance on the traditional opening song, "There's Nae Luck Aboot The Hoose," that really sets the tone and pace of One For Sorrow from the outset.

Venturing beyond their Scottish territory, on the somewhat misleading "Norwegian Tunes," Rallion explore the sounds of Sweden and Norway, whilst Fiona Cuthill pays tribute to the men of Canada! It's intriguing to hear how the band take these alien rhythms and melodies and blend it with their own dynamic musical sensibilities to present a wonderful synthesis of traditions. I'm well aware that Rallion are travelling to other corners of the world this year, and I wait with eager anticipation to hear how they integrate their musical souvenirs on their next recording. In the meantime, One For Sorrow will certainly provide ample enjoyment!

Web Site

Reviewer Mike Wilson Mike’s Blog Page

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Rachael McShane

No Man's Fool (Navigator Records, 2009)

As one might expect from a musician who has spent the last three or four years reinventing the sound of English folk music as a member of Bellowhead, No Man's Fool is an album that further pushes at the boundaries of the folk genre. Rachael takes ten traditional songs and sets them in an aural landscape that flirts with the contemporary sounds of lounge-jazz and funk. Ultimately though, it is Rachael's exquisitely clear and unfussy voice that furnishes the album with an eternal charm; in fact, it would have been interesting to also hear the songs being performed a cappella, so as to appreciate their stark beauty before they don their new clothes. There is however a certain allure to hearing these songs of fair maidens and May mornings set amongst a thoroughly modern and inventive soundscape.

Right from the outset, "Captain Ward" benefits from a subdued bass and a piano that saunters along with a jazzy insouciance, with an accordion and fiddle providing an instrumental nod towards the more traditional sound that one might associate with this song. "My Johnny Was A Shoemaker" receives a groovy makeover thanks to some effortlessly cool keyboards, and a harmony-laden refrain that may well provide the most memorable pop hook that traditional music has ever heard!

"The Drowned Sailor" demonstrates undeniable class, with an understated performance where Rachael's cello sets a mournful tone alongside sensitive accompaniment that allows the full lustre of Rachael's gorgeous voice to dominate. "Miles Weatherhill" starts out as a tender recounting of a love story between a young weaver and a parson's servant, before said weaver embarks on a bloody killing spree, at which point the panoramic musical accompaniment reaches epic proportions to perfectly heighten the drama.

Rachael McShane is a classy musician and a singer of striking elegance on this confident début. The arrangements are often daring, though sometimes alarmingly smooth, but the quality of the traditional material, and the unpretentiousness of Rachael's voice shines bright throughout. This marriage of traditional spirit, jazzy improvisation, and urbane rhythms genuinely offers something different at a time where even the folk scene can offer increasingly bland and unimaginative alternatives. No Man's Fool surely marks the beginning of an altogether more interesting journey.

Web Site

Reviewer Mike Wilson Mike’s Blog Page

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Various Artists

Borders Tunesmiths

Produced by Shona Mooney, this latest volume in the Borders Traditions series sees nine of Scotland's most gifted traditional musicians, gathered together to produce a collection of new instrumental music, taking inspiration from the Borders region. A diverse collection of instruments, including a delicate harp, a varied selection of strings, the punchy border pipes, and the contemporary rhythmic flamboyance of cajon and stomp box, ensure that the pace and flavour is varied throughout. The fact that the entire project was recorded live on just one night, adds further atmosphere; no mean feat when you consider that the musicians had just four days to rehearse!

"On Auld Lauder Licht" is inspired by the Lauder Light Railway, that once linked small border towns to the the main Waverley Line from Edinburgh to Carlisle. The rhythm of the instruments are deployed intelligently to represent the mechanical nature of the old steam trains that would have ploughed the route, starting out at a saunter before building with speed and purpose. Elspeth Smellie's harp chimes with a graceful eloquence to begin "Write A Bar Or Two," luring the other musicians to join her in an ensemble of discerning elegance. "Harp vs. Accordion" finds jazz-soaked guitar flourishes from Innes Watson setting the backdrop for Christopher Keatinge's lithe accordion, in a set that begins with flavours of the continent, while Smellie's harp ripples politely in the background. Martin Marroni's reading of the Border poet W. H. Ogilvie's "The Hill Road to Roberton," is absolutely sublime, with an understated charm and authenticity that is matched by Marroni's subdued composition that beautifully underscores his plaintive voice.

"Cheese Well" completes proceedings; a collaborative composition of three tunes written by all nine musicians. "Hume Castle" begins the set with a suitably commanding grace, winding towards the more muscular melody of the closing tune, "Waverley Route," where the combined resonance of the strings and border pipes give a wonderfully replete sound. The set ends to an understandably rapturous round of applause from the audience.

The decision to record this project as a live concert pays dividends, retaining an air of spontaneity that genuinely brings a touch of magic to the whole recording. This is music that beams with pride, and the celebratory nuances make it impossible not to enjoy.

Web Site

Reviewer Mike Wilson Mike’s Blog Page

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Sean Taylor

Calcutta Grove

Talented singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Sean Taylor, has crafted an album of dark, understated beauty with Calcutta Grove. With a minimalist approach to the arrangement and production, Calcutta Grove is a whispering, bluesy album with an eerie and intoxicating atmosphere that agitates the mind like an evening spent with a good bottle of whiskey. Taylor credits John Martyn as being one of his influences, and Calcutta Grove owes much to the musical meanderings of Martyn with its extemporaneous, discordant leanings, and in particular, Taylor's mesmerising guitar technique.

Taylor sings with a smooth reticence on the absorbing title track that opens the album, departing from this serenity momentarily for a stifled, tormented howl that hints at an inner disquiet. "Revelations" follows with a funky blues-drenched rhythm that carries a cool charm, yet still retains an air of nonchalance. The angry, domineering distortions of an electric guitar break the peace quite dramatically on the short instrumental interlude of "Salvo," that nicely punctuates the otherwise tranquil ambience.

There are a couple of nods back to Taylor's own heroes with a kaleidoscopic treatment of Skip James' "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues," and a robust reading of the traditional spiritual "Motherless Child," referred to here as "Freedom" in recognition of Richie Havens' celebrated improvisation.

Lyrically, it would seem that Taylor is something of a man of mystery, with abstract allusions that will fuel much interpretation. With the recent passing of John Martyn, there is a void in music that could well be filled by Sean Taylor. This is timeless music where every element is a well-thought, carefully crafted addition to an overall work of art. Repeated listens reward with subtleties, buried between the sweeping layers of sound, that you may not catch immediately. Calcutta Grove may well be the most relaxing, chilled-out music you will here this year.

Web Site

Reviewer Mike Wilson Mike’s Blog Page

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Fiona J Mackenzie

A Good Suit Of Clothes (Greentrax Recordings, 2009)

A Good Suit Of Clothes is an absorbing recording, that primarily acts as a showcase for Gaelic songs of emigration, bringing together native Gaelic songs, alongside those written by the emigrants themselves in distant corners of the world such as Novia Scotia and Australia. The songs collected here are largely traditional, though a number of contemporary compositions sustain the echoes of the past.

It is testament to the varied experience of producer, Irvine Duguid, that he has crafted the most exquisite arrangements, remaining faithful to the spirit of the material, whilst gracing them with an overall sound that manages to be subtle, sumptuous and elegant. Fraser Fifield, Mary Ann Kennedy and Anna Massie are amongst the impressive cast of musicians who perform on the album, lending strong traditional credentials, yet ensuring there are subtle contemporary nuances that will appeal beyond the traditional genre boundaries. The final touch of beauty is provided by the chaste and lucid vocals of Fiona Mackenzie, whose singing demands your immediate attention, demonstrating a manifest affinity to the songs that allows her to tease out the gamut of sentiments that permeate the material.

A Good Suit Of Clothes is by no means a one-sided story and the songs presented here yield stories of hope, desperation and longing. An interesting perspective considered on a number of occasions is the cultural dislocation suffered by emigrants, who found that their new life was compromising the future of their language and culture. In "A' Choille Ghruamach" (The Gloomy Forest) the Tiree Bard, John MacLean, fears for the loss of his Gaelic and finds loneliness in the fact that nobody asks him to sing his music.

The common woes of emigration obviously feature highly, with songs that speak of pining for home and lost loved ones. One of the most heartbreaking songs is "Tha Thu Beò Nam Anamsa" (You Are alive In My Soul), a contemporary song telling the story of an elderly lady recalling the emigration of her childhood sweetheart. Her sweetheart was never to return as he had promised, and the lady never married. These stories of sadness are balanced by "Dèan Cadalan Sàmhach" (Sleep Quietly), a lullaby where a mother promises her baby that a better life awaits them in America, or on " 'Illean Bithibh Sunndach" (Boys Be Happy), a song that buoys the spirits of those departing for the new world.

"Tilleadh an Eilthirich" (Return of the Wanderer) brings the subject full circle, being written in 1975 by Archie Mackenzie of Halifax, whose forefathers had emigrated from Barra. Mackenzie writes with enthusiasm for his first journey to Barra and talks of the emigrants' legacy that lives on in the new world, where their ancestors still proudly uphold the language and music. Fiona is joined here by Cathy Ann MacPhee and their interpretation is intertwined with archive recordings of Mackenzie himself, marking a fitting close to the album.

As a collection of music alone, A Good Suit Of Clothes makes for a thoroughly enjoyable listen, with exquisite arrangements and the absolute delight of Fiona Mackenzie's singing. Those willing to dig a bit deeper will uncover an interesting and heartfelt tribute to Gaelic emigrants and gain some understanding of the personal and cultural sacrifices involved, at a time when emigration was more often than not, a permanent, one-way journey. A Good Suit Of Clothes serves to maintain the memory of these personal journeys.

Web Site

Reviewer Mike Wilson Mike’s Blog Page

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Catherine MacLellan

Catherine MacLellan

Water In The Ground (True North Records, 2009)

Water In The Ground is an album lightly infused with country music sounds, wrapped up in a breezy, summery production that proves to be deliciously contagious, making repeated listens absolutely essential. This third album from the Canadian singer-songwriter finds her ploughing a furrow not dissimilar to Mindy Smith, though with hints of darker undertones that owe more to the likes of Lucinda Williams.

Opening with the 1950s rockabilly sound of "Take A Break," conjuring up images of poodle dresses, vintage jukeboxes and coffee shops, MacLellan instantly demonstrates the potential for a catchy, radio-friendly hit. This sound is revisited later on "Not Much To Do (Not Much To Say)," with a dominant double bass lending solid rhythms, whilst MacLellan's voice offers a bluesy indifference. The uplifting, gospel-soaked harmonies of "Set This Heart on Fire" also carry nuances of a similar vintage.

MacLellan also offers a more contemporary, carefree country-pop, with the title track offering a first glimpse of MacLellan's romantic optimism: "all the snow will melt into the stream / leading me back to where I want to be." Further reassurance emerges on "Everything'll Be Alright," a number that soothes and comforts with insouciant hopefulness: "don't you worry any more / we'll let the rain fall, we'll let the sun shine / and everything'll be alright."

These buoyant offerings punctuate MacLellan's otherwise wistful, confessional material with songs that immediately set your toes tapping, though the more introspective numbers offer their own dark beauty. "All Those Years" takes a doleful backwards glance to a life left behind: "but it's someone else's now / and the ghosts of my past just drift on alone." MacLellan returns to a similar viewpoint on "Again From The Start," vowing not to return to the road already travelled, yet rueful of the loneliness that life's journey sometimes deals, and seemingly looking for a helping hand.

Included with Water In The Ground is MacLellan's début album, Dark Dream Midnight, previously only available by mail order, and a much more sparse and melancholic affair. It is this effortlessness with which MacLellan moves between styles that promises much in the way of longevity and versatility for this accomplished songwriter.

Web Site

Reviewer Mike Wilson Mike’s Blog Page

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Stockholm Lisboa Project

Diagonal (Westpark Music, 2009)

Stockhom Lisboa Project bring together a heady concoction of sounds that blends traditional music from Portugal, Sweden, and beyond. The utterly captivating voice of Liana colours the recording with a sultry Mediterranean heat, whilst the Nordic influences lend a cool precision to proceedings.

The traditional "Corridinho do Ti António" paints a picture of people eager for dance and party, and the mischievous rhythms cooked up by the band capture the party atmosphere perfectly, whilst "Saudade, vai-te embora" marries the essence of lament and longing from Portuguese fado with some rather playful, flirtatious sounding interludes. There is true cultural cross-breeding on "Näverbiten / Corpo Aceso," where Portuguese lyrics are set to a Swedish waltz, that the album notes inform you are about the common subject of seductive love -- and there is quite possibly nothing more seductive than Liana's alluring voice on songs such as this. The sheer drama that Liana wrings out of "Meu Amor de Ontem" as her voice ascends to a quivering climax, is nothing short of breathtaking.

There is a compelling fusion of instruments throughout Diagonal, and the diverse rhythms and flavours make for a memorable encounter. The undulating tones of Simon Stålspets' Nordic mandola provide a rhythmic underpinning and a tonal range that offers intensity and intricate agility. New member, Filip Jers, brings a striking vibrancy and depth with his collection of harmonicas, with the bass harmonica lending a particularly brooding atmosphere, whilst the violin of Sérgio Crisóstomo provides some of the more exhilarating melodies.

This is music that makes you want to pack a suitcase and explore the rhythms and musical emotions of mainland Europe. Perfectly and passionately articulated, music rarely comes better this, and I fully anticipate this album being amongst my favourite albums of 2009.

Web Site

Reviewer Mike Wilson Mike’s Blog Page

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Red Shoes

Ring Around The Land

Have you ever had a dream? Have you ever had a dream come true?

Red Shoes are the Birmingham duo Carolyn and Mark Evans. Carolyn is a great Sandy Denny fan and as a young folk singer dreamt of singing with Fairport Convention. This album was produced by Dave Pegg and among the supporting instrumentalists were Dave Pegg and Chris Leslie, two of the current Fairport line up. So dreams can come true.

All the songs on this album were created by Carolyn and Mark except one. So let’s look at the cover song, Dave Swarbrick’s ‘White Dress.’ I’ve listened to the original Sandy Denny version and this one side by side and, as a devout Sandy Denny fan myself, I can say they are equally as good. I never thought I would ever say that. They are different but Carolyn’s strong voice delivers an equally good interpretation.

Mark wades in with two tracks, ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ and ‘Keep a Hold on Me.’ His gentler voice acts as a brilliant foil to Carolyn’s and helps give the album both variation and balance.

‘Someday We’ll Meet’ expresses Carolyn’s wish to meet Sandy Denny; not too soon I hope.

The title track is a celebration of May Day festivals. It includes Chris Leslie on Morris Bells; did he wear the full regalia, the mind boggles.

The gem is ‘My Father’s Green Beret.’ Their daughter, Megan, wrote and performed the piano accompaniment making it a real family affair. Chris Leslie’s viola backing gives great atmosphere to the track. The song is a memorial to Carolyn’s father who, as a young soldier, stormed the Normandy beaches on D-Day. Last year he lost his final fight against MRSA in hospital. Just another statistic, except, of course, to those who new him. I defy anyone listening to this song to do so without feeling a tear gently meandering their cheek.

To sum up this album is full of excellently written, words and music, songs all beautifully performed. It is an emotional tour de force from sadness to joy. Dave Pegg’s production and, with a little help from his friends, backing really underpin it as a work of art.

So what is the result of all this dreaming – A DREAM OF AN ALBUM.



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Reviewer Ken Miller

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Anne Gomez

Wan Mair Mile

Anne Gomez, despite the name, is as Scottish as they come. A leading light at the East Kilbride Folk Club and the band Trochrague; she has even appeared on the Danny Kyle Stage at the 2008 Celtic Connections. Not a bad pedigree for a debut solo album.

So what do we get? Well we get variety. We get variety on songs from the traditional like Raggle Taggle Gypsy, the well known like Cyril Tawney’s Sally Free & Easy and some of Anne’s own creations. We get a variety of styles a’capella, accompanied songs and duets. Oh yes, there are a few surprises as well.

Key tracks include ‘Marlana’ written by Dan Chavers and featuring him singing in Oregon with Anne singing in Glasgow. The wonders of modern communications and the skill of the production team married the two seamlessly together.

My favourites are the three tracks that include a group of children Anne corralled into the studio. The first is ‘Cat’s Wallies’. Wallies is Glasgow speak for dentures. Hold that thought – cat’s dentures. This is the fun song on the album. Then, while Anne is enjoying a well deserved cup of tea, the kids give us an endearing collection of Glasgow street songs. A reminder of where folk songs originate. Then Anne returns, suitably refreshed, for the title song ‘Wan Mair Mile’ with the kids sing a chorus adapted from Will Fyffe’s ‘I Belong to Glasgow’.

Anne’s style ranges from the precise almost choral solos to the easy party style of the group songs. No two tracks are the same.

This is real grass roots folk music and an engaging album it makes.



Web Site

Reviewer Ken Miller

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Elowen

Elowen

Elowen (elm tree to us foreigners) is a Cornish based band comprised of Kim Guy, Michele Cobb, Phil Wisdom and Yvette Cowley, together with an assortment of instruments and a love of produce music in a traditional way, with their own slant.

This album was produced on a tight budget and is only available through their web site. It is a real cottage industry; but was not folk music originally a cottage industry?

The main part of the album is made up traditional and contemporary songs and ballads which show off the harmonies at which Kim, Michele and Yvette excel. Songs included are such classics as Both Sides the Tweed, Maid in Bedlam and English Rose.

Although Kim usually takes the lead vocal, the girls sing in chorus for Three Drunken Maidens. I trust that it is not autobiographical.

Phil gives us two sensitively delivered songs. Ewan McColl’s Sweet Thames Flow Softly (much appreciated by us Londoners) and the delightful The Keys of Canterbury. Both are highlights of this album.

There are, of course, two songs in their native Kernewek. Meriasek was a 4th century Breton who became the patron saint of Camborne. The song is about his sailing across the channel from France. Oll an Gerriow is about (I am reliably informed) all the tunes and songs in the world running through your head so you are unable to sleep. A more apt description of this album defies me.

We end with Parting Glass. A toast sung by guests as they leave after an evening’s hospitality. A fitting way to finish of a welcoming album.

The tight budget refers to the expense of recording the album. The time and effort spent on developing their style and rehearsing each number was not subject to such restrictions.

The overall effort has produced an album in which the personality of the band shines through. Each track is well thought out and performed the right resources, vocal and instrumental, employed to create an endearing sound.

Now I can sit back and enjoy the album without wondering how I can do justice to their efforts.



Web Site

Reviewer Ken Miller

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George Papavgeris

Life’s Eyes – WGS 340CD

George Papavgeris was born in Greece and travelled around Europe absorbing various styles of music. Settled in the U.K. and started writing songs in his own style based on these experiences.

He is supported on this album by Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer, well known in the Essex and surrounding areas as multi-instrumentalists and singers.

We get on this album a heady mixture of good modern (urban) folk songs and a very personal glimpse into George’s heart. These glimpses are, however, ones with which we can all associate. He has in a sense put our feelings into words.

‘Life’s Eyes’ is the perfect title for this album as it contains glimpses of George’s life from childhood memories to the problems of the present day. It contains intimate insights into George’s personal feelings and his view on global problems.

The hard hitting tracks include ‘Another Day’ which starts with banker making a killing (and we all know where that has brought us; ‘Rush Hour’ sung as a round to denote the repetitive commuting and ‘Up Wind of Me’. ‘Rush Hour’ contains a wonderful phrase ‘lives with logic but no reason.’ I can’t wait to use that on some jobs-worth official even if it flies right over his head. It also shows that Vicki and Jonny are just the backing group but an integral part of the creative energy that went into some of the tracks.

Some of the more intimate tracks include ‘Regrets’ a love song for his late father and ‘Harbour Lights’ George feeling a bit home sick for his native Greece.

That is just a sample of the delights to be had on this album. Fourteen very different tracks that meld together into one glorious whole. But what’s this, track 15. Not mentioned on the copious sleeve notes. Perhaps a freebee.

Thank you George, not only for a free track but for delightful experience.



Web Site

Reviewer Ken Miller

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Mary McPartlan

Petticoat Loose – MCPRCD002

One could be forgiven, when opening a Mary McPartlan album, for expecting a collection of standard folk songs delivered in a standard fashion. Well, do not underestimate Mary. The songs chosen and Seamie O Dowd’s musical direction asked some serious questions of Mary. Fortunately for us, Mary had all the answers.

There are some very traditional tracks. ‘Barbara Allen’ (I remember learning that at school) and ‘Lowlands’ are performed in a traditional way.

At the heart of the album, however, are three tracks written by poet Vincent Woods with music by Mairtin O Connor. ‘Sanctuary’, ‘Kiss the Moon’ and ‘Petticoat Loose’ are just marvellous songs. The lyrics are just, well, poetic and the music compliments them perfectly.

For those who Gaelic lyrics, Mary’s tongue dances deftly around ‘Síos Faoi Loch Aileann’ and then slows down for the wonderfully atmospheric ‘Caoine Sheáin Mhic Shearraigh’.

There is a Romanian song ‘Lumé Lumé’ which seems a little out of place but fits Mary’s style well enough.

The gem for me is ‘Victor Jara’. It starts off simply, plainly enough but the singing and backing, without any crescendo, draw you inexorably into the tragic fate of that Chilean folk singer.

This album is notable for two partnerships. Vincent Woods and Mairtin O Connor who have produced three wonderful songs; let’s hope they get together for more. Mary McPartlan and Seamie O Dowd whose sympathetic approach to the material has given the album a life of its own.



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Reviewer Ken Miller

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No Fixed Abode

Clearwater – NFA200701

No Fixed Abode is the acoustic duo Una Walsh and Tony Dean. For the purpose of this album they have imported the talents of, amongst others, Patrick Walker on violin and Ashley Hutchins on bass guitar and the font of a lifetimes knowledge.

Now to cut to the chase; the key element on this album is Una’s distinctive and attractive voice. Couple that with her undoubted ability to use that voice and Tony driving the backing at the right pace and tempo and you have got a winning formula.

We start off with What did I do which sets the tone for the album. The backing continues at a good pace with Una varying her pace to suit the lyrics. It is one of those tracks that would make a good single.

Then comes the gem. Kebab Crazed Nutter is what is now being called urban folk. It bemoans the way we have lost our city centres to kebab munching lager louts. I can understand that. I would not to my town centre when only the pubs and clubs are open. The song goes along at a brisk pace that just draws you in.

Now I want to put two songs together. Sunne Days and Going Home both have a timeless quality about them; as if they were written decades ago. But they both have a heavy dose of nostalgia about them which this approach brings out perfectly.

The Salty Old Sea Dog is an intriguing song. Not a shanty but a description of life on a sailing ship. No story as such but Una brings it alive and you are caught up in the exhilaration of sailing before the wind.

Modern Life is another intriguing song. Just reading the words you find them repetitive but that is the point. It is a life of going to work, coming home then off to work again the next day. The only relief is spending an evening with a loved one. Yet again Una breaths life into the showing much those few hours in the evening mean so much.

Absent Friends and Call Me have common theme. The feelings that arise from the separation of close friends. That is what you get from these songs, the sense of loneliness that separation brings.

I have waxed lyrical about Una voice but we must not forget Tony’s value to the duo. Like all backing artists you hardly notice that he is there. The tempo of his support, often unobtrusive, carries each song along perfectly.

All the songs, with their variations in style and pace, were created by Tony and Una.

Overall, the album is outstanding. A joy to listen to. There is a full gamut of emotions to soak up. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys an outstanding singer.

Now all I have to do is stop my feet tapping long enough to make that cup of coffee.



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Reviewer Ken Miller

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Jack the Lad

Jackpot (Market Square Records MSMCD149)

Well, a breath of fresh air harking back to the good old days of the 70s when much of my youth was spent in the moshpit that was the Marquee Club in London. To witness the likes of Jack The Lad, Hedgehog Pie, The JSD Band and Spud was always a pleasure and let’s not forget, all of these bands were entertainers, not just great musicians and vocalists. It’s long been established that Billy Mitchell for me was the main man when it came to vocal prowess in the field of folk-rock and this is ably demonstrated on an album full of nostalgia.

I must admit I wasn’t such a fan of the out and out rock material they were playing at the time of this recording but, if you’re a ‘folkie’ like me then you’ll want to purchase the CD for the two trad arranged studio tracks on offer. “The Tender” with its riff sodden sparring guitars/mandolins, hard hitting intro and Geordie-ness will put a smile on the face of even the sternest critic and then of course, there’s the jaunty set of tunes “Walter’s Drop”. All of the previously unreleased bonus tracks (including a great version of “Buy Broom Bessoms/The Tender/The Marquis Of Tullybardine” – anyone for wah-wah mandolin?) will be required listening for completists everywhere.



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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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Lindisfarne

Happy Daze (Market Square Records MSMCD148)

OK, so hands up - I wasn’t particularly into the rockier version of Lindisfarne Mark II (along with a majority of the original Lindisfarne fans according to Jim Henderson’s informative sleevenotes) although I have to admit a glowing admiration for two or three of the more subtle tracks on this previously unavailable CD recording.

Firstly there is the outstanding Alan Hull penned “River” (which even featured Hull on recorder) and then there were the two Kenny Craddock songs “Nellie” and “Tomorrow”. At the time this recording was made in 1974 it was probably Mr Craddock, Hull & Ray Jackson armed with his trusty mandolin that held the quintessential Lindisfarne ‘sound’ together. Although (for me) it’s these three tracks that make this CD a required purchase I was also interested in the seven bonus tracks featuring solo performances by Alan. A bit of a mixed bag then but a must have for Lindisfarne collectors everywhere.



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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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Luke Plumb

A Splendid Notion (Shoogle Records: Shoogle 08009)

My twin brother Chris and I were inspired to pick up the mandolin as our weapon of choice by the sadly departed and much missed Louis McManus of the Bushwackers Band and in an indirect way so was Mr Plumb who credits him in his sleeve notes.

Now this is how I like to hear the mandolin (ie: without chord backing from guitar or bouzouki) clutter free with the exception of tasteful percussive input from James MacKintosh and an astonishing amount of digital dexterity from the protagonist. You see, in the right hands the mandolin should be able to provide its own driving rhythm and by gentle use of dynamics alone as demonstrated magnificently on the track “The Gallowglass/Trip To Sligo/Cook In The Kitchen” you don’t need to be a ‘speed merchant’ which Luke proves time and again. It’s refreshing to see liberal use of some real traditional tunes including “Battle Of The Somme”, “Drunken Landlady” and “The Snuff Wife” and with the occasional interloping of an Ed Reavey and Sean Ryan tune this is as near perfect a recording as I could wish for.



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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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Oxford Fiddle Group

Beyond The Spires (RRCD 015)

Evoking memories of those glorious old-time Scottish fiddle orchestras the Oxford Fiddle Group numbering twenty-one all sound as though they’re thoroughly enjoying themselves. Whether it’s performing a beautiful waltz “Beyond The Spires” written by band member Adrian Broadway or getting down and dirty with Steve Earle’s “The Galway Girl” the group know how to push the boat out when they need to.

Adding splashes of colour with guitar, banjo, mandolin, double bass, keyboards and Celtic harp the group utilise many perennial favourites including “Music For A Found Harmonium”, a North-East set “Dance To Your Daddy/Rusty Gully/Bonny At Morn” and even a rendering of that old chestnut “Jambalaya”. Oxford should be proud to have such a fine group of musicians (I wish we had the same in Croydon) and the finale “Molly Oxford/Old Tom Of Oxford” arranged by Mike Gardiner proves a fitting end to a cracking recording. It’s rare for me to listen to a whole album these days but might I suggest that you do the same. Purchase this CD sit back, kick your shoes off and enjoy!



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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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Rachel Hair

The Lucky Smile (March Hair Records MHRCD002)

Rachel Hair has that uncanny knack of picking just the right tunes to take her audience on a spectacular acoustic musical tour. For instance the highly syncopated opening track “Back Home” which, given a great jazz feel propelled by her accompanying musicians Paul Tracey (Guitar), Angus Lyons (Keyboards), Andy Sharkey (Double Bass) and Scott Mackay on drums brings her into Deborah Henson-Conant territory.

The following track “Kilmartin Sky” ably demonstrates Hair’s own compositional skills with a beautifully crafted slow air joined by the smile-inducing jig “Francie’s”. Joy Dunlop adds haunting Gaelic vocals on a couple of tracks with “A Fhleasgaich Oig As Cednaltg” reminiscent of the soundtrack to the film ‘The Wicker Man’.

This is a very enjoyable recording that will capture the hearts of listeners with splashes of tasteful jazz colourings and is a must purchase for those who like their ‘folk’ with a bit of attitude.



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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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2 DUOS

Until the Cows Come Home (Own Label)

You can sometimes tell from the first track that you are really going to enjoy a full album. And so it proves with this debut recording from 2 Duos. The pair in question: Claire Mann & Aaron Jones and Gudrun Walther & Jurgen Treyz (of the German band Cara) already enjoy great credentials and you just know this recording will be something special.

In the days before 2 Duos we had…it appeared…loads of artists such as The Bothy Band, De Dannan, Altan and Clannad etc all vying for the same bit of space on the Celtic music scene. Perhaps we don’t have quite so many now but now is a good time to promote the genre. With songs such as the “Midlothian Mining Song” with Aaron putting his fine Scottish vocal to good use and the gently evocative flute/fiddle start to the track “Beyond The Glen” (think Maids Of Michelstown) this is a band in no rush to rock it up for the general public. On another track the texture of bouzouki underpinned by Jurgen’s subtle use of dobro on Sandy Denny’s song “Solo” is crowned by the gorgeous harmonies of Gudrun and Claire. The band utilise to good effect a studied repertoire that will appeal to a wide listener base and as demonstrated on this recording they should prove a real winner on the ‘folk’ circuit…I hope I’m proved right!



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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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The Doonan Family Band

Manna From Hebburn (Own Label DFB02) & Further Along (Own Label CRCD03)

To the distinctive strains of piccolo from the now sadly departed John Doonan joined by sons Mick (Uillean Pipes) and Kevin (Fiddle) along with their mates Phil Murray (Bass) and Stu Luckley (Guitars) the Doonan Family Band certainly create an infectious wall of sound.

To be perfectly honest I’d just popped out to make a cup of tea and forgotten I’d left the CD playing and thought I’d come across an old Hedgehog Pie or JSD Band recording. With their mix of traditional and contemporary songs and tunes the band might not have the finesse of The Bothy Band or Altan but if, like me you like your music a bit rough round the edges in the spirit of a good old fashioned session then both these albums will be right up your street.

They hit the spot with some excellent instrumental sets including established standards “The Star Of Munster”, “Barney Bralligan” (I didn’t know it was a song as well) and “The Banks Of Ireland” but it is probably their arrangements of songs such as “Something Inside” and “House Of The Rising Sun” (both performed with great aplomb by Mick) that will capture the listeners imagination. Augmented by Mick’s daughters Fran and Rosie on the Further Along album this is a band that will inspire more than most because they just know how to have a good time whilst treating the music with respect and a great deal of humour – a rare treat indeed!



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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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Oysterband

The Oxford Girl And Other Stories (Running Man Records RMCD6)

Thirty years down the road and still going strong here is a band that doesn’t age much like the seemingly indestructible nature of some of their songs. I thought, on first hearing the opening track “The Early Days Of A Better Nation” that I’d stumbled across a long lost recording by Peter Gabrial but then again Oysterband have that knack of throwing you every which way musically. And that’s what makes this album so interesting with re-arrangements (or re-imaginings as the band would have it) in a more acoustic setting than we’re used to hearing.

Fronted as ever by the strident vocals of John Jones this is a band that takes no prisoners and makes no apology for getting down and dirty in a display mixing raw passion and subtle moments in equal measure. For those Oyster anthem seekers the cello driven take on Tim Hart & Maddy Prior’s version of “The False Knight On The Road” will I’m sure have the audience chanting along in customary fashion and who wouldn’t want to when it’s performed with such unbridled power. With copious pounding rhythms providing the backdrop to much of the band’s material, if you’re feeling down in this present climate then buy this CD and revitalise your pleasure organs. Cracking stuff!

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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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Cara Dillon

Hill Of Thieves (Charcoal Records CHARCD002)

Longevity from an artist is commonplace in the field of ‘folk’ music and I’m pleased to report that Cara Dillon is one such artist who has carved her career taking her time in order to achieve this goal. I first booked Cara along with her siblings in the band Oige many years ago at the Swan in Stockwell and thought at the time how captivating her voice was. Since then of course she’s moved on to great success in her own right and this latest release is a testament to how well she has done. Joined by a stellar cast of musicians including Sam & Seth Lakeman, Brian Finnegan, James O’Grady and James Fagan the listener will soon be captivated by a young lady truly at her peak.

On an album chock full of traditional songs apart her own self-penned title track – which by the way sits very comfortably with the rest of the album – is a banquet for anyone who loves ‘folk’ music plain and simple. I remember years ago performing alongside Noel Murphy joining him on “The Parting Glass” but never was it so poignant as it is here. Letting the music breath may be a cliché but produced by Sam Lakeman this is an album that literally sparkles like a polished gem.

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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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Jim Malcolm

The First Cold Day (Beltane Records BELCD106)

I first saw Jim performing with the band Old Blind Dogs some years ago and was immediately struck by the strength of his vocals. This is the seventh solo album in his prolific canon of work now featuring predominantly his own songs along with the traditional “The Shearing” and “Maggie’s Bairn” plus Andy M Stewart’s evocative “Valley Of Strathmore”. Proud of his Scottish heritage Malcolm has a way with words that I’m sure would please the likes of forebears Robbie Burns and Robert Tannahill. Being a much-travelled folksinger, Jim has had plenty of time to hone his skill with the pen and the images he paints is a vast landscape as far as the eye can see…or the ear can hear.

Capturing thoughts and putting them on paper has always eluded me as a performer but it’s good to see them come vividly to life in the hands of a craftsman who obviously relishes the challenge. I have a particular liking for tracks such as “An Hour In The Gloaming” accompanied by his wife Susie on harmony vocals or the double-tracked smooth jazz tinged title track “The First Cold Day”. In some ways this particular track reminds me of the first time I heard The Easy Club. For those of us who feel we know the best performers on the ‘folk’ circuit check out this recording…if you haven’t seen or heard Jim before I’m sure you’ll enjoy a majority of the album…I certainly did!

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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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Gathering

Legends Of Folk Rock (Hypertension Records HYP 9265)

I was really looking forward to reviewing this album as it is fronted by some of my own personal favourite musicians from the field of British folk music. Featuring as it does a veritable array of ‘legends’ we have Ray Jackson (Lindisfarne), Jerry Donahue (Fairport Convention), Doug Morter (Richard Digance), Rick Kemp (Steeleye Span), Clive Bunker (Jethro Tull) and Jerry’s daughter Kristina.

Unfortunately for me the finished product doesn’t really deliver on that initial promise of something special due in the main to too much of an American country rock bias rather than good old English folk-rock – there is a difference you know. With this in mind, maybe I was expecting more out of a band relying on such luminaries or perhaps I’m just getting too old for the whole folk-rock thing. In my personal opinion everything on the album is held together by the mandolin, harmonica and vocals of Jackson particularly on the tried and tested “Lady Eleanor” but for the majority of tracks I found them lacking in any real clout.

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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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The Occasionals

The Full Set (Greentrax Records DVTRAX2021)

Well, what do you know, a good old-fashioned ceilidh band with a good, old-fashioned sound. The Occasionals comprise ex-Silly Wizard accordion player Freeland Barbour, the strings (mandolin/banjo/tenor guitar) of Kevin MacLeod along with Ian Hardie’s fiddle and the rhythm of Gus Millar on drums and hi-hat. And what an impressive sound the quartet produce with stately melodies played in a no nonsense way and no harmonies.

Some might see this as unadventurous but when used in the context of performing for dancers an uncluttered approach is always often the best way. There are sixteen tracks of music on the CD plus a DVD showing the dances along with an hour of home footage and amusing voice-overs from the band in documentary style. As if that wasn’t enough the booklet contains the dance ‘calls’ which all goes to making a mighty impressive package.

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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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Cosmic Piper

15 Inventions For The Highland Bagpipes (KRL Records CDMON 878)

I was really looking forward to this recording firstly because I like Highland Pipes and secondly the title ‘Cosmic Piper’ would lead you to believe there’s something exciting and cutting edge about the artist. Unfortunately I found neither on an album full of clichés and ultimately uninspiring. I can’t fault the performance of either Brian Lamond (Lead & Harmony Pipes) or Billy McNeill (Keyboards) but I must admit to feeling the album is a bit dull and old hat.

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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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Mick Groves

Still Spinning (Own Label)

I owe more than a debt of gratitude to the Spinners that other Fab Four from Liverpool for this is where my introduction to ‘folk’ music started.

Mick Groves always had the audience rooting for him as the sensible one in the group. His delivery always led you to believe he knew what he was talking about in an ‘educated’ sort of way and his passion for the songs knew no bounds. On this album he retraces past glories including “Mary Anne”, “Flowers Of Manchester” and the tremendous “D-Day Dodgers” this time minus the orchestra as utilised on the album By Arrangement but none the less a true classic.

Surrounded by guests such as Becki Driscoll on fiddle, Jim Causley (yes, that Jim Causley) on accordion, harmonica courtesy of Mick Burch and the muti-instrumental talents of producer Phil Beer this is an album full of gems. For those of us that were lucky enough to catch this first-rate entertainer the first time round prepare yourselves for a nostalgia fest - for those discovering ‘folk’ for the first time this recording couldn’t come more highly recommended.

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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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MaClaine Colston & Saul Rose

Sand & Soil (Get Real Records GGRCD014)

Melodeon extrovert Saul Rose accompanied by the hammered dulcimer of Maclaine Colston proves an infectious combination on this, their debut album. You may well ask why it has taken this engaging duo fourteen years to produce their first album but what really matters is that they’re out there doing their thing and the ‘folk’ world is a better place for it.

Evoking memories of Pete & Chris Coe the distinctive sound of strings and bellows allows plenty of space for Saul and Mac’s not inconsiderable vocal talents to extol the virtues of a song “The Lazy Farmer” that includes the words bugger, arse and sod. Nice! In a fine display of musicianship that includes several tune sets along with traditional arranged material and a slightly disconcerting (in a nice way) version of John Martyn’s “Don’t You Go” sung by Teph Kay this is an album that will grow with every repeated play.

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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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Give Way

Lost In This Song (Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX332)

Let’s get the comparisons with The Corrs out of the way first.

Ok, so now we can sit down and listen to a very enjoyable recording in that easy-listening kind of mode. Siblings Amy, Fiona, Kirsty and Mairi Johnson are pretty, young and in case I forget to mention it…talented. With Phil Cunningham bringing his production skills and a little whistle thrown in for good measure this is a CD that will appeal to a broad market aimed squarely at a majority (not minority) audience for those who listen to say Terry Wogan rather than Mike Harding. And what’s wrong with that? Nothing actually. With finely tuned instrumental sets such as the tricky “Lofty’s” and “Zander The Salamander”, the quartet sit quite comfortably in their roles as ‘folk’ musicians but it is the songs nudging them towards a more commercial based sound that will see their potential flourish.

For my money the single should have been “The Poaching Song” instead of the tried and tested “The Water Is Wide” but then that’s a matter of opinion. Having just watched the Eurovision Song Contest (don’t get me started) I reckon the girls would have given most of the entrants a run for their money and perhaps they might just reach the lofty ambitions of their Irish counterparts. Time as they say will tell.

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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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Fairport Convention

Fame And Glory (Matty Grooves Records MGCD049)

I’ve been a fan of ‘rock operas’ for many years…from the early days of the Alan Parsons Project’s “Turn Of A Friendly Card” to the cutting edge of Jeff Wayne’s “War Of The Worlds”. Still, I was more than a little surprised to find Fairport Convention dabbling in the same circles, with the exception of their own low-keyed but still brilliant “Babbacombe Lee”.

Of course I’d heard the rumours about ten years ago of Fairport disappearing overseas to perform on a project with Breton based songwriter Alan Simon but didn’t really think to chase it up until now. Thank goodness I did for otherwise I might have missed a very important chapter of the band’s career.

This album more than most goes to prove that a good riff along with mosh inducing rhythms is an infectious combination. There’s a veritable feast of great vocals from John Wetton, Jacqui McShee and James Wood and particularly Simon Nicol who I haven’t heard on better form in ages. From the energetic grooves of Dave Pegg’s fluid bass lines to Gerry Conway’s inspired rhythms and the unmistakable sound of Ric Sanders and Chris Leslie’s duelling fiddles taking centre stage on the live version of “Morgane” this album seriously rocks! The inclusion of Flook joining Supertramp’s John Helliwell (saxophone) on “Dragon Breath” also breathes real fire (sorry about that) into a great track. Unbridled passion for a project is the life-blood for any musician and in this case I think we’ve found it in Fairport.

Stirring anthems and really danceable melodies are all here and I won’t be the only one rejoicing in hearing the band on such fine form.

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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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Terence O’Flaherty & Paul Cunningham

Ghosts (Grassmount Records)

Some twenty years ago I used to work alongside Terence O’Flaherty in the bands Crusheen and Collaboration a time crowned by a particularly well-received appearance at the Cambridge Folk Festival. Unfortunately I’d lost track of Terence in recent years until his solo debut CD “Crosscurrent” and this, his latest release which sees the ‘old chanter’ in fine form with current multi-instrumental musical partner Paul Cunningham.

Always an articulate performer O’Flaherty brings his considerable vocal talents to bear on traditional-ish tracks such as Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times” (particularly poignant in the present climate) and a towering performance of Brendan Behan’s “Old Triangle”. Coupled with the fact that he and Cunningham write their own songs including the upbeat Pogues styled “Take My Hand” and the grunge like finale “Ficra/Master Crowley’s” this is an album that will bear fruit with repeated listening.

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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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Tony McManus

The Maker’s Mark (Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX331)

Tony McManus must be a nightmare to live with as his partner finds yet another guitar hidden under the bed but the joy he gives in stunning performances should far outweigh any misgivings one may have.

I recently had the pleasure of trying several guitars finally settling on a rather beautiful Freshman full of tone and just the right attack I needed for my particular style of rhythm/tune playing; then imagine Tony’s grin whenever he opened his own Pandora’s Box of delights…all $175,000 worth of them! From the opening track “Inveran/The Devil In The Kitchen/Locheil’s Away To France” with its tricky triplets to the unmistakeable glissando introduction to “The Maids Of Mitchelstown” providing a glorious tribute to that fine guitarist Micheal O’Domhnaill of the Bothy Band now sadly no longer with us…I’m sure he’d be smiling in heaven to know that his work is celebrated in such confident style.

A major point of this recording was to display fifteen exquisite guitars all of which the makers were, I’m sure, only too happy to let this master craftsman utilise in a dazzling display of digital dexterity. I know it’s only ‘folk’ music but this is the kind of album that you could play to impress your friends whilst enjoying a candlelit dinner or, if you’re a musician indulge yourselves in the banquet laid before you. I can’t express what an honour it is that ‘folk’ music is to be represented by such soulful technicians as Mr McManus and long may he continue to make such beautifully crafted albums.

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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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Steeleye Span

Live At A Distance (Park Records PRKCD104)

I was lucky enough to catch Steeleye on their latest 2009 tour and came away mightily impressed by their great ‘live’ show so imagine my surprise and delight when this 3-disk CD/DVD landed on my doorstep.

The band have still got what it takes forty years down the road and to bear this out they start with a rousing “Who’s The Fool Now?” featuring their trademark battery of vocals…it’s also interesting to glimpse percussionist Liam Genocky providing vocal reinforcement with the band on the DVD. Following up with the ponderous though never more apt arrangement of the gothic “When I Was On Horseback” and a truly joyful re-working of the Dixon Of Dock Green inspired chorus in “Two Magicians” it’s then that nostalgia soon starts to bite.

Utilising a massive back catalogue the band’s net is cast far and wide to include more recent compositions contributed by Peter Knight, Ken Nicol and Rick Kemp that settle nicely amongst the more established traditional re-workings. Still on fine form and resplendent in red Maddy cuts a striking figure as her soulful renderings of “The Dreamer And The Widow” and “Betsy Bell And Mary Grey” (joined by a truly inspirational Peter Knight on fiddle) are given the gravitas they deserve.

Well, what more could you ask? If you’re a fan of the band or just starting your journey with them this is as fine a representation of folk-rock I’ve heard (or seen) in ages and a must purchase at only £15.

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Reviewer Pete Fyfe

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