Issue 20 12/2001
FolkWorld CD Reviews
McDermott's Two Hours vs. The Levellers "World
Turned Upside Down"
Label: HAG Records; HAG 006; 2000; Playing time: 38.43 min
McDermott's Two Hours was the result of the friendship and musical partnership
of singer, guitarist, lyric writer Nick Burbridge and melody composer, fiddle,
bouzouki, whistle and harmonica player Tim O'Leary. They achieved limited popularity
around the south of England in the late eighties / early nineties before
eventually going their separate ways. The Levellers claim them as one of the
inspiring influences on their musical approach, and so it came about that Levellers
bassist Jeremy Cunningham suggested a musical collaboration.
This album is the result. It presents Burbridge's songs - about love, war, drinking:
the eternal subjects of folk song - accompanied by O'Leary and the Levellers'
rhythm section (Cunningham and drummer Charlie Heather, who sticks to just percussion
on some of the songs). You can just about see how the Levellers might be the
logical sequel to this, though they're a good deal more boisterous than Burbridge
Tannahill Weavers "Alchemy"
Label: Green Linnet; GLCD 1210; 2000; Playing
time: 45.12 min
"Alchemy" ist the Tannies' 13th studio album (not counting the two
compilations) and their third in succession with unchanged personnel, making
this line-up of Roy Gullane (voc, guitar), John Martin (voc, fiddle etc.), Duncan
J. Nicholson (pipes, whistles), Phil Smillie (voc, flute, whistles, bodhrán)
and Les Wilson (voc, bouzouki, guitar, keyboards) the most enduring in the 28-year
history of the group. Since their last two releases "Leaving St Kilda"
(1996) and "Epona" (1998), they've been perfecting their four-voice
harmony singing, and try their hands at an a capella "It Was All For Our
Rightful King" with great success here.
As we have come to expect, the album mixes traditional and self-penned Scottish
songs in varied arrangements with majestic pipe tune sets and dreamy slow airs.
Like for the last two albums (at least), the booklet provides full notes and
lyrics plus a Scottish-English glossary for the linguistically-challenged listener.
You'd think a group would have to be rather good to keep going this long and
remain popular. You'd be quite right! This is quality stuff.
Tannahill Weavers website
Dames Dubbel met Kat yn't Seil "Jaarringen"
Label: Pan Records; Pan 192; 2001; Playing time:
This album is designed to accompany you through the course of a year. Dames
Dubbel (half of Dutch group Kat yn't Seil) have collected songs and tunes from
Dutch folkore connected to the various holidays and rituals historically celebrated
by the people. The resulting album begins and closes with songs connected to
the turning of the year, and takes in Lent, Palm Sunday, Easter, May dances,
Whitsun, Midsummer, Harvest, St. Nicholas' and St. Martin's days in November
and Christmas along the way.
The music is supplied by all four members of Kat yn't Seil, who play flutes,
accordion, schalmei, krumhorn, cow horn, bagpipes, guitars, cister and assorted
percussion between them. For some of the songs, collected from old books, where
the music had been lost, new tunes were created ("reconstructed",
as they put it) for the recording. The "double ladies", Marita Kruijswijk
and Marian Nesse, have also adapted obscure and dialect expressions into modern
Dutch "so that today's listeners could understand them at first hearing"
- assuming they understand Dutch, of course. This would indeed no doubt enhance
the pleasure of listening to this album, but thanks to the extensive (bi-lingual)
eplanatory notes, it is still interesting even if you can't follow the lyrics.
Contact Dames Dubbel
Trans-Global Underground "Yes Boss Food
Label: Koch; CD 33552-2; 2001; Playing time: 60.37
This is dance music, but aimed at nightclubs, not ceilidhs. Trans- Global Underground
mix elements of various cultures, mostly Asian, with electronic beats, and succeed
in blending the two elements better and more creatively than most who dabble
in this field. Definitely not one for purists, but it does have a certain fascination.
and real audio files
Michael Snow "Here Comes The Skelly"
Eye Records; 1999; Playing time: 44.14 min
Michael Snow "The Rats and the Rosary"
Label: Irish Eye Records; IYE 944; 2001; Playing
time: 46.37 min
It's a trendy thing for Americans digging up roots. Michael
Snow did the same. After beat music, showbands, a contribution to John Lennon's "Power to
the people", playing piano with Chuck Berry, he settled in Nashville, Tennessee,
in 1973. Recently leading the Celtic band Ceolta Nua and collaborating with
Dr. Hook-singer Dennis Locorriere. His songs were
recorded by Ray Stevens and Earl
Scruggs. The Skelly trilogy is meant to be an exploration of music inspired
by Michael's Liverpool/Irish background. Skelly is a character not me exactly
but it allows me to express a broad range of thoughts and ideas about the whole
Irish immigrant experience. The songs have correspondingly a slight Irish
touch, covering a broad range of musical influences from singer/songwritung
to folksy pop. "Rambling Road", "A Time to Kill", "Skelly Scouse" are finely
crafted songs, which explore rockier ground and seem (at least for me) to work
best. Michael is not the greatest singer (if that's an artistic criterion at
all), but he is determined for a journey (and I'm sure part three of the Skelly
trilogy is coming soon): Cut my finger, I bleed green / That's the way it's
always been / Hide your daughters, lock your house / Here comes the Skelly Scouse.
Michael Snow / Irish Eye Records
Black 47 "On Fire"
Records; GADFLY 280; 2001; Playing time: 60.19 min
Larry Kirwan "Kilroy Was Here"
Records; GADFLY 273; 2001; Playing time: 56.07 min
Our first gig was a benefit where we opened for political activist Bernadette
Devlin-McAliskey, says singer/guitarist/playwrigth Larry Kirwan, after
about fifteen minutes, someone roared out: For Christ's sakes, play an Irish
song! To which I replied, I'm from Ireland. I wrote the song, that makes it
Irish. So shut the fuck up! Black 47, named after Ireland's Great Famine,
is an Irish-American band that combines traditional material with often political
themes - Irish Republicanism mixed with left wing humanistic ideology.
And plays it loud and fast cause we're not talking about another folk band but
a group devoted to pure rock, rap and reggae. A bit of Moving
Hearts taken into the 1990s. Drinking music for thinking people.
Their latest offering is "On Fire", recorded live
on Paddy's Day 2001 (presumably in New York City, the group's main stage). The
line-up consists of brass section of Geoffrey Blythe (sax, founder member of
Dexy's Midnight Runners) and Fred
Parcells (trombone, whistle), uilleann piper Chris Byrne, plus Andrew Goodsight
on bass and Thomas Hamlin on drums. Now everywhere we go we cause a fuss
/ 'Cause we play what we like and our sound is us / It's got a whole lot of
hell and a little bit of heaven / That's the story so far of Black 47,
says "Rockin' the Bronx". The "Big
Fellah" is Michael Collins, "Bobby
Sands MP", of course, devoted to Bobby Sands. "Fire of Freedom" and "American Wake" are other
highlights. It finally closes with Peter Gabriel's "Biko". A band, unlike
any other, who played original music and refused to patronise their audiences.
Larry Kirwan's solo effort "Kilroy Was Here" slows down a bit. I
want to get back out in front of an audience with just a guitar and see if I
can do it the way I started off in Wexford, so many moons ago. And speaking
of Wexford, it permeates the album - not the successful Wexford of today - but
the one I remember, grey, gloomy, rain-soaked, lightning streets, full of teddyboys,
sailors home on leave, presentation schoolgirls, bookies, messenger boys, Sister
Philip, Tommy Swift, mini minors, Franciscans, altar-boys, culchies on old black
bicycles, country boys sweating in black suits on Curracloe Beach, Sunday walks
to Ferrycarrig, Norman castles, Yola and memories of '98, Eddie Calvert's trumpet,
showbands at the Parish Hall, girls in seamed stockings who thought you were
an eejit, opera and rock & roll all mixed into one grand, big yellowbellied
stew. No wonder I'm so messed up! Still, I want to ... merge the two worlds
I'm a part of - theatre and music, once and for all. The lead instruments
are trumpet and violin, creating a more intimate, jazz sound throughout. The
autobiographic "Life's Like That, Isn't it" tells of the 60s in his native Wexford.
"Molly" is a witty song, falling in love with James
Joyce's heroine. "History of Ireland" tells 900 bloody years in five minutes,
featuring Malachy McCourt in
upper-class voice. "Spanish Moon" remembers Garcia Lorca, Victor Jara and General
Pinochet: The poet lives forever, the general dies alone ...
Funny how but at first listening I always furrow a brow or two, but thereafter
I always think it's cool. Since Kirwan is currently collaborating with Tom
Keneally, (author of Schindler's List), on a musical about women convicts being
deported from Ireland to Australia, I'm looking forward with great interest.
The Waterboys "Too Close To Heaven"
Label; 74321881522; 2001; Playing time: 58.20 min
For many people, "Fisherman's Blues", the Waterboys'
flirtation with folk and traditional music, is their best work to date: a
subtle blend of folk's poppier moments and Irish music's rootsy instrumentation.
(P. Byrne) Too Close To Heaven is the sequel of these heady days in Spiddal in the
west of Ireland. Or better, the forerunner, because those tracks have been recorded
previously. [We] were listening to Blues, Cajun, Country and old Gospel
music, says singer and guitarist Mike Scott. And we played it too,
on our acoustic instruments - guitar, fiddle, mandolin and sax, leaving behind
the cinematic sound people thought of when they heard the word Waterboys ...
It took eight years to be revisited. So here we are, left in the intervening
period somewhere between the folksy Fisherman sound and the older Waterboys
rock. Mike Scott plays guitar and piano, Steve
Wickham fiddle, Trevor Hutchinson double
bass, and Anthony Thistlethwaite
sax and mandolin. There is also Vinnie Kilduff on uilleann pipes and tin whistle,
Roddy Lorimer on trumpet,
and another line of bass players and drummers. Naturally you can't expect any
big hits with some almost forgotten tracks, but there's some fine songs and
songwriting. Not only for the advanced Waterboys fan.
Mark Elliott "My Great Escape"
Label: Cub Creek Records; CCR-1967; 2001;
Playing time: 48.55 min
Nashville-based singer/songwriter Mark Elliott's "My Great Escape" breaks
free from the hectic pace of the urban American everyday life. If I were
a train, I would take my time. Folk and country turn easily into pop and
jazz. And finally Mark makes his get away full of doubt, full of faith,
full of freedom.
Christine Primrose "Gun Sireadh, Gun Iarraidh"
Label: Temple; COMD2086; 2001; Playing time:
Gaelic song and Gaelic music has in recent years almost been destroyed by
Celticism, says Angus Peter Campbell in the liner notes, Christine
Primrose exposes these trends as pale, commercial shadows that have little to
do with real Gaelic tradition. There's little to add and I could finish
here, but to give you some more information: Christine Primrose hails from the
Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides and she is regarded as one of the most passionate
performers of Gaelic song. I can confirm this. Christine's stunning vocals tell
epic, haunting stories of people and land, love and hatred. Half of " Gun
Sireadh, Gun Iarraidh" (without seeking, without asking) is genuine voice.
The other half is tastefully accompanied by harp (Alison Kinnaird), fiddle
and whistle (Alasdair White),
small pipes (Iain MacInnes), and guitar
(Duncan MacGillivray). All the words are translated and the song contents shortly
introduced in the booklet to add to the pleasure of the non-Gaelic speaker.
But in the end, Christine's expressions carry all emotions and there is no further
Gillian Frame & Back of the Moon
Stompin' Records; CDFSR1711; 2001; Playing time: 47.57 min
There's a lot of moon in this FolkWorld issue. This time we cast some light
on the backside of the Earth's satellite. The Scottish band "Back of the Moon" consists of fiddler
Gillian Frame, whistler, border and uilleann piper Simon McKerrell, pianist
Hamish and guitarist Findlay Napier. The instrumental sets of their debut recording,
also titled "Back of the Moon", flow
freely and easy-going. All four are singing as well and I personally like their
party version of "T he
Greenland Whale Fisheries". The band is called "Back of the Moon", but there's
no need to hide away.
Foot Stompin' Records
Haugaard & H°irup "Let's Dansk"
SFR 357.6022.2; 2001; Playing time: 57.22 min
Haugaard & H°irup (see also article
about Harald Haugaard in this issue, FolkWorld
live report and previous CD review) have
been described as the Danish equivalent of the breathtaking Irish duo Hayes
& Cahill. Likewise the idea was quite simply to put together two dynamic,
technically and musically gifted musicians, not as `soloist with accompaniment,'
but working together as equals, and then see what happened. And as Martin
Hayes put it: Many of the old musicians had this special `draiocht' ...
Through the honesty of their expression they could touch your heart. Morton
Alfred H°irup (guitar, vocals) and the devil's own Harald Haugaard (fiddle)
are really like two hands on a piano. "Let's Dansk" has been recorded
live at the folk club Strackholt in Northern Germany. Schottische, polkas, waltzes,
jig- and reel-type tunes, traditional Danish songs. The entire spectrum of human
emotions can be found, from tender sweetness to effusive passion. Simply the
best weapon that Continental Europe has to offer against the Celtic invasion.
Pure Irish Drops "Sounds from the North"
Label: Liekedeler; LIECD 01017; 2001; Playing time:
Germany has always been an important market for folk music and some top acts
even got their reputation while doing the German folk circuit and being pushed
by the German festivals and festival tours. Where were The Fureys or Clannad
without it? One less known annual festival tour being the "Pure Irish Drops"
of Florian FŘrst, dedicated to represent
traditional Irish music as pristine and intensive as possible. This year the
tour introduced the music from the North of Ireland, featuring flutist and singer
Desi Wilkinson (Cran), fiddler banjo player Cathal Hayden (Four Men and a Dog) and
button accordonist Jim McGrath. For the first time "Pure
Irish Drops" are on record, which is a pleasure concerning the magnificent
selection of musicians. I hope that there will be some more drops falling on
these lands soon.
Label; BROLUM1; 2000; Playing time: 43.22 min
Brolum is a seven-piece group from the
Strathclyde University, Glasgow: the twin fiddles of Eilidh Campbell and Sarah
Wilson, Julie Fowlis on whistle and vocals, Tony Russel on clarsach, Andrew
Webster on guitar, Duncan Lyall on bass and Martin O'Neill on percussion. Being
winner of the "Danny Kyle Open Stage Competition" at Celtic Connections 2000
(that pleases us ol' Danny-fans),
led to the decisison not to call it a day and travel on down the road. It was
a wise decision. For a debut album, the ensemble playing is very tight. The
tunes are generally groovy. "Quiraing" has an Easter-European flavour. Julie
sings the traditional Gaelic songs "Muil eann
Dubh", "An Ataireachd Ard" and
"Clann Ulaidh". Scotland at its best.
More English CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page
2 - Page 3 - Page 4 - Page
More German CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page
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