Issue 16 10/2000

FolkWorld CD Reviews


Leo McCann "If anyone can"
Label: Cannadhu Produktions; Canndhu 001; 2000; Playing time: 47.43 min
Leo McCann is a brilliant exponent of the vibrant young Scottish folk music scene. He is an excellent accordion and low whiste player and a composer of interesting tunes. 'If anyone can' is his debut solo album - but do not expect solo accordion/whistle playing for an hour. Leo has invited some guest musicians to underline his music. The 'Leo McCann band' consist of Aaron Jones (bouzouki), Kris Drever (Double Bass), Malcolm Stitt (guitar) and Sarah McFadyen (fiddle) - but nevertheless Leo's playing is always the centerpiece of the album. The music is most often presented as a duo. Most of the tunes are composed by Leo himself, but there are some tradtionals and some of other composers, too. If you want to hear what the young instrumentalists in Scotland are doing at the moment - buy this CD and you will find one of the finest young musicians of the Scottish scene.
Leo's homepage
Christian Moll

Hamish Moore & Dick Lee "The Bee Knees"
Greentrax; CDTRAX202; 2000; Playing time: 41.35 min
Hamish Moore and Dick Lee have made some impact on the Scottish scene as they combined tradtional Scottish and Cape Breton music played on Scottish (small, reel and highland) pipes with jazz elements of the saxophone two decades ago. Both are very qualified musicians: Hamish Moore is one of the finest pipers and pipe makers in Scotland (his pipes are played by e.g. Fred Morisson, Deaf Shepherd's Rory Campell or Boyd MacPhee of Slaite Mhat from Nova Scotia). Dick Lee is saxophon player of high respect. 'The Bee Knees' is an re release from 1990 - and it still creates the magic atmosphere of two different music worlds (both have brought some guest musicians with them) come together to form something new.
Christian Moll

V/A "Piping Up"
KRL Lochshore; CDLDL 1300; 2000; Playing time: 78.49 min
Bagpipe music is steadily finding a bigger audience. At least that's what record labels seem to think. Well, here's another collection of bagpipe music, featuring Scottish pipers Chris Armstrong's Notes in ma Heid, Rory Campbell's Field of Bells, Fred Morrison's The Sound of the Sun, Anna Murray's Tri Nithean, Gordon Walker, Tommy Cooper, Gordon Duncan, as well as Cape Breton piper Ann Gray's Shouting at Magpies, Uilleann pipers Paddy Keenan and Troy Donockley, and Australia's Victoria Police Pipe Band. All tracks are accompanied with various guitars, synths or entire band backing; pipes are duetting with flutes and fiddles; and some tracks are underlaid with quite modern beats. Nothing for the purist but a fine mix anyway. The pipers are briefly introduced in the booklet, but as with many compilation albums some more extensive notes on recordings and tunes are recommended.
I recently heard: "What is that music? I love that relaxing sound." Who said bagpipes are not relaxing?
KRL Lochshore,; 9 Watt Road, Hillington, Glasgow G52 4RY; Tel.Tel. +44 141 8829986; Fax +44 141 8833686
Walkin' T:-)M

Lia Luachra "Traffic"
Malgamu Music; MALGCD 114; 2000; Playing time: 59.49 min
Lia Luachra are formed back in 1997, then playing mostly Irish session tunes. The line-up is rather unique, featuring Shane Bracken (concertina, percussion), Declan Corey (mandolin, bouzouki), Tricia Hutton (fiddle), and Jon Hicks (guitar, vocals). They are still rooted in the tradition, but let themselves never get restricted. Their new album is criss-crossing musical boundaries, incorporating influences from classic, jazz and eastern European folk. (Indeed, the Irish "malgamu" means "amalgamation" and Malgamu Music is dedicated for joining other styles while keeping an Irish sound.) "Traffic" is neither a crawl at Dublin's rush hour nor speeding on the dual carriageway. But Lia Luachra prefer rather embellished arrangements than knocking down jigs & reels at breakneck speed. Most tunes are original, Jon is responsible for four of his own songs. So let yourself not Sleeping at the Wheel, get in Charlie's Car and join the Traffic!
Malgamu Music,; 5 Main Street, Tallaght, Dublin 24; Tel/Fax +3531 451 5765
Walkin' T:-)M

Fil Campbell "Dreaming"
Roundtower; RTMCD 97; 2000; Playing time: 41:39 min
"Rostrevor seems to have a habit of attracting big names: Tommy Sands, Kieran Goss ..." - and in a little while singer and guitarist Fil Campbell? Certainly a highlight of her career was to sing in Parliament Buildings at Stormont Castle to mark the signing of Northern Ireland's Good Friday Agreement. "Dreaming" was originally released in 1996, but has been re-mastered. Fil shows up here more as an interpreter, including even the odd Van Morison and Lennon/McCartney song. The bag of folk, jazz and pop is carefully arranged to suit her "vulnerable" voice. The title track, which won the Letterkenny Song Contest in 1994, is the only original song and actually the most powerful one. So I am eager for more ...
Roundtower,; 10 Metro Centre, Dwight Road, Watford, Herts WD1 8SS; Tel. +44 1923 281281; Fax +44 1923 281200
Walkin' T:-)M

Allie Fox "Diving for Pearls"
Vixen Records; VIX002; 2000; Playing time: 54.29 min
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Allie Fox from the Scottish Borders has her hands on many things. She's collaborating with jazz guitarist John Rutherford, playing with folk-rock band Eclectic Shock, and running the live music venue "The String Jam Club". Back to basics, Allie's diving for own pearls with a solo album of contemporary folk, blues, country and pop. Behind the fanciful arrangements, featuring the cream of Scottish session musicians, you find an emotional voice and a bunch of beautifully crafted songs. If you make it to the end, you are rewarded with an outstanding song about boxing legend Joe Louis. And if you dive deep enough, there is more than one hidden pearl to discover.
Vixen Records,; 14 Hillside Terrace, Selkirk TD7 4LT; Tel.+44 1750 20538 Fax +44 1750 725006
Walkin' T:-)M

Heidi, Stef & Bow Triplets "Never Too Early"
no Label; HS 00172; 2000; Playing time: 51.55 min
Bow Triplets is a Switzerland-based Irish trad. (with an emphasis on the traditional) band, without any Irish members, but nonetheless very competent. In fact anyone hearing this without knowing anything about it would almost certainly take it to be "the real thing".
The album presents a mix of songs and tunes, some traditional, some original, but faithful to the tradition. The songs are usually sung by either Heidi or Stef Sigfalk, sometimes both. Tunes and songs are arranged on a number of instruments: violin/guitar/spoons (Heidi Sigfalk), guitar/banjo/mandolin/concertina/bodhran (Stef Sigfalk), various woodwind instruments (Markus Meier) and acoustic bass (Joe Eisenburger). The dominant sound is a delightful interplay of fiddle and recorder to a backdrop of guitar and bass.
I should probably put off writing this review, because the more I listen to this album, the more it grows on me. Seems this gently cheerful music is just perfect for raising the spirits in these gloomy autumn days.
Bow Triplets homepage; Heidi & Stef Sigfalk: Tel. +41 (0)52 654 1817; Fax +41 (0)52 654 1819
Anja Beinroth

Emmylou Harris "Red Dirt Girl"
Label: Nonesuch /
Grapevine / Koch Records Europe; 324827; 2000; Playing time: 55.59 min
Surely country singer/songwriter Emmylou Harris needs no introduction. Her latest album sounds like a seamless continuation of the celebrated, Daniel Lanois-produced "Wrecking Ball". A very full sound with accompaniments provideded by Malcolm Burn, Ethan Johns, Daryl Johnson and Buddy Miller plus assorted others including the odd celebrity guest (Bruce Springsteen, Kate McGarrigle). If you liked "Wrecking Ball", this is a safe bet.
For more details point your browsers at this
excellent fanpage with lots more information on Red Dirt Girl
Anja Beinroth

Shave The Monkey "Good Luck Mr Gorsky"
Label: Percheron Musique / Stormforce Arts; APE3004/CD; 2000; Playing time: 51.39 min
Shave the Monkey is a well-established English group playing something that can roughly be labelled folkrock, though it's more varied than the "classic English folkrock" of the Fairports et al. They mix songs and tunes, mostly their own compositions, based on English folk as well as French dance tunes and other influences. All this is arranged using quite an assortment of instruments - fortunately not all at the same time - including melodeon, multiple guitars (electric and acoustic), mandolin and mandocello, bagpipes, flutes and saxophones, hurdy gurdy, electric bouzouki, keyboards plus the "usual" bass, drums and percussion.
With its breadth of scope and variety this reminded me of fellow English folkrockers Pressgang's excellent debut album "Burning Boats". And that's high praise!
Shave the Monkey website; Contact Shave The Monkey, 11 Lankester Road, Royston, Herts SG8 9DG, England; Tel. +44 (0)1763 231 565.
Anja Beinroth

Soweto String Quartet "Rhythms of Africa"
BMG / RCA Victor; 74321 68454 2; 1999; Playing time: 54.32 min
This superb CD is sadly let down by its packaging, which is woefully short of information on the musical contents - the barest minimum of band info, practically nothing on the - obviously present (on some tracks) - guest musicians, and the barest hint that it is obviously a compilation, presumably of a number of previously released albums; what these are, and which if any of them are available in Europe, is not revealed. A specialist label would have made a better job of it!
As for the music: Soweto String Quartet is, as you would expect, a quartet of South African musicians: the brothers Sandile (first violin), Thami (second violin) and Reuben (cello) Khemese plus Makhosini Mnguni (viola). They play a mix of pop (including a medley of Paul Simon's "Graceland" hits) and African music (including "Imbube", better known as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight/Wimoweh") in a way which mixes classical string quartet arrangements with African rhythms and styles. This may sound unlikely, but it works extremely well, producing gripping, enjoyable tunes which do sound both African and classical. Music for any occasion, and for justabout any listener, not just world music fans!
Soweto String Quartet info from
Anja Beinroth

ULC "Spring"
GO' Danish Folk Music Production; GO 0100; 2000; Playing time: 52.30 min
The Danish band ULC was originally formed by Peter Uhrbrand (fiddle), Sonnich Lydom (accordion, harmonica) and resident Irishman Seamus Cahill (bouzouki, guitar, vocals) in 1998. They have since teamed up with Danish jazz musicians Peter Rosendahl (piano, keyboard) and Mads Vinding (bass). In this expanded line-up, they attempt to bridge the gap between jazz and folk, playing modern arrangements of traditional material, mostly Danish dance tunes and Irish songs. One major source of material for this album is little-known 18th century Danish sheet music.
Whether you think the folk-jazz fusion works is probably down to taste; I still haven't made up my mind. But it is certainly an interesting experiment.
ULC website; GO' Danish Folk Music Production: Tel. +45 7572 2486, Fax +45 7572 2485, email
Anja Beinroth

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