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NEWSLETTER #129
Folk Music - American, British Isles, Europe
Albion Morris -> Gabriel Yacoub

KARAN CASEY
AOIFE CLANCY
DR. STRANGELY STRANGE
FLOOK
PATRICK STREET
JOHN RENBOURN
JEAN RITCHIE
VARIOUS
JOHN WILLIAMS
GABRIEL YACOUB

 

IRELAND KARAN CASEY Shanachie 78053 Distant Shore ● CD $15.98
11 tracks, 41 mins., recommended. Fronting the band Solas, Casey's voice floated above their damn-the-torpedoes energy. Here, to showcase the crystal clarity and vulnerability of her voice, she's pared back the arrangements and created some lovely dynamics in a collection old and new, in English and Irish. Easing into things sweetly, by the end of the second track, Tim O'Brien's Another Day, she's got you by the throat and all you want to do is sing along on the chorus. Her high voice soars beautifully on slow, intimate songs like Just a Note, over liquid guitar and flute. And while The Four Loom Weaver never shouts, it's a heck of a rocker, just the same. (DC)

 
IRELAND AOIFE CLANCY Appleseed 1065 Silvery Moon ● CD $15.98
11 tracks, 44 mins., recommended. Clancy is daughter of Bobby Clancy of Clancy Brothers fame, so it's no surprise she's one fine singer. Her voice is smooth as silk, and well showcased in spare, tasty arrangements from simple piano accompaniment to a full band of guitar, fiddle, flute, bass, and percussion. And while she's chosen a nice mix of traditional and contemporary songs by the likes of Mark Simos and Ron Kavana, her voice seems best suited to the slow ballads, like the opening track The Nightbird. The set ends with a duet with her father on Kisses Sweeter Than Wine. (DC)

 
ENGLAND DR. STRANGELY STRANGE Progressive Line 570 Kip Of The Serenes ● CD $23.98
Reissue of first album from 1970 by this cult folk band very much in the vein of the Incredible String Band. Unlike their second album listed last time this one is all acoustic featuring accompaniments on guitar, whistle, organ, piano, glockenspiel, mandolin, percussion, etc. All original songs by group members Ivan Pawle, Tim Goulding and Tim Booth. With titles like Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal/ Roy Rogers/ ..On The West Cork Hack and Strings In The Earth And Air you can be sure you're in for psychedelic folk experience.

 
IRELAND FLOOK Flatfish 004 Rubai ● CD $17.98
14 tracks, 40 mins., highly recommended. This is one wild UK quartet of neo-trad whizzes, building intense grooves and pulsing rhythms under two killer flutes. On this, their third CD, they exhibit an almost exhausting virtuosity, taking jigs and reels into places where few bands besides The Horseflies have succeeded in going. The guitar, mandolin, and bodhran band bed here is augmented by guests on bass, fiddle, trombone, wah-wah mandolin, e-bow guitar, and percussion. It would be difficult to describe the arrangements other than to say that each tune zings with new invention and that Greek, African, and other boundary-leveling influences pop in at just the right moment. It's all beautifully recorded and dazzlingly performed. Boy, would I love to see these guys live! (DC)

 
IRELAND PATRICK STREET Green Linnet 1222 Street Life ● CD $15.98
10 tracks, 46 mins., recommended. Another masterful set from four of the finest British Isles musicians of our time, Andy Irvine, Ged Foley, Kevin Burke, and Jackie Daly. As on previous CDs, they pass around the spotlight, doing what each loves best with the help of the rest. Jackie and Kevin play their wonderfully tight instrumental sets, this time mixing in well-known session tunes like Saddle the Pony and Drowsy Maggie and giving them a unique Patrick Street sparkle. Ged offers an Aussie love-gone-wrong song and If We Had Built a Wall, a lament on Irish partition. Andy weighs in with his requisite dreamy love ballad Green Grows the Laurel and self-penned pro-union tip of the hat to Woody Guthrie. It's all played with such masterful ease-another lovely hour with the boys. (DC)

 
ENGLAND JOHN RENBOURN Vestapol DVD 13032 Rare Performances, 1965-1995 ● CD $23.98
90 mins., incl. 64-pg. text w/tab, essential. Now on DVD. A brilliant series of video clips spanning the entire career of one of the era's defining guitarists. We see John bouncing ideas and laughs off Bert Jansch in the pre-Pentangle days, then 3 songs with the seminal Pentangle in full flower, before stepping off into collaborations with the Renbourn Group and Stefan Grossman and many awesome solo performances. Most of the camera-work is guitar-friendly, clearly illustrating hand positions and picking technique. Well-chosen repertoire of more than 25 songs shows the breadth of Renbourn's skills, from the medieval Trotto to the moody Irish Lament for Owen Roe O'Neil to the smirky American Candyman to exquisite jazz arrangements like Goodbye Porkpie Hat. One of the most impressive pieces here is Little Niles, originally written for jazz piano, but sculpted perfectly here on the guitar (and provided in tab notation). Entertaining and well-produced - a real video gem. (DC)

 
AMERICAN JEAN RITCHIE Smithsonian Folkways 40145 Ballads From Her Appalachian Family Tradition ● CD $15.98

 
IRELAND VARIOUS ARTISTS Rounder 6005 Traditional Irish Music In America - The East Coast ● CD $15.98
21 tracks, 51 mins., good. In the mid-70s Mick Moloney headed a huge field recording project to capture the Irish American musical scene where it flourished most, along the east coast and in Chicago. This CD spotlights Moloney's recordings of 2 generations of players from Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC, those who didn't already have recordings out but who nevertheless were influential in maintaining and passing on the traditional styles. Featured ore accordionists Sean McGlynn and Gene Kelly, fiddlers Brian Conway, John Vesey, and Maureen Fitzpatrick, and flutists Mike Flynn and Paddy Cronin. The sound is as one might expect, recorded mostly in livingrooms, but the energy is there and players looking for new repertoire or old-country ornaments will find plenty to interest them. (DC)

 
IRELAND VARIOUS ARTISTS Rounder 6006 Traditional Irish Music In America - Chicago ● CD $15.98
19 tracks, 40 mins., good. This is a companion CD to the "East Coast" Rounder collection, also recorded and produced by Mick Moloney, a fine player in his own right. It's a smaller stylistic sample than the East Coast CD and gives more attention to the oldest available players, including flutists Frank Thornton and accordionist Terry Teahan, both born before the First World War. The whole 1970s Chicago scene is highlighted, all the way to a final track by the then very young but already influential fiddler Liz Carroll. As field recordings, these are of interest mostly to those building repertoire or serious about emulating particular regional styles. The liner notes are excellent and comprehensive, reminding us of a rich chapter in the development of traditional music in America. (DC)

 
MISCELLANEOUS VARIOUS ARTISTS Sanctuary 81284 Troubadours Of Folk - The 60s Acoustic Explosion ● CD $19.98
2 CDs, 41 tracks, 128 mins., recommended A wonderfully spotty trip to the British folk scene of the 60s - but only spotty because the folk scene ran the gamut from brilliant to painfully bad. It's all here in all its innocent glory, from visionaries like Roy Harper, Bert Jansch, and-yes-Donovan, to a scattering of English acts that tried desperately to sound American and came up as outtakes for "A Mighty Wind." 500 Miles provides a perfect explanation of why skiffle king Lonnie Donegan never made the jump to the U.S. (or to the late 60s, for that matter). We get what is possibly the worst song the Incredible String Band ever recorded-a Dr. Demento gem. A pre-Velvet Underground Nico tries in vain to sing over a nightmare Petula Clark orchestration, and Sandy Denny just sounds terrified singing This Train. But other early work by Andy Irvine's band Sweeney's Men, Jansch and Renbourn, Ralph McTell and more show the glorious side of a musical movement that never quite knew what direction it was headed. At times nostalgic, at times unwittingly hilarious, and with fairly comprehensive liner notes, this is a fun, if flawed collection. (DC)

 
IRELAND JOHN WILLIAMS Green Linnet 1215 Steam ● CD $15.98
13 tracks, 46 mins., recommended. One heck of a polished album by a tremendously gifted Irish accordion player. Williams, who first announced his chops to American audiences as a member of Solas, here takes center stage, backed by the best studio talent the scene can offer for a rollicking set of dance music that covers considerable emotional territory. With the likes of John Doyle, Seamus Egan, Dennis Cahill, and Randall Bays helping drive the arrangements, you know you're going to get rock-steady high-energy jigs and reels. But Williams mixes his textures and moods well, switching from accordion to concertina and then to whistle and flute as well, trading lead licks with fiddler Liz Carroll on several tracks. It's all beautifully done and delivered with masterly confidence. (DC)

 
FRANCE GABRIEL YACOUB E.L.F. Production 003 The Simple Things We Said (Les Choses Les Plus Simples) ● CD $16.98
14 tracks, 49 mins, essential Lovely new album from this brilliant French singer, songwriter and guitarist - his first in quite a while. On this album Gabriel revisits some songs he has recorded before along with some newer compositions. Gabriel is one of the finest singers anywhere with a wonderful soulful and smoky voice. Arrangements are kept simple - most tracks are just Gabriel on guitar or mandocello with Nathalie Riviere/ violin and Yannick Hardouin/ bass plus occasional additional instrumental or vocal accompaniments. Gabriel's music is deeply steeped in traditional music and although the material is mostly contemporary there is a strong traditional feel throughout. Gabriel is expert at working with harmony vocals and a couple of tracks feature this spine chilling sound. My favorite track here is the magnificent Jour De Lessive based around a poem by late 19th/ early 20th century writer and proto beatnik Gaston Coute set to a simply gorgeous tune by Gabriel - it alone is worth the price of admission. The title song is a lovely song about communication and it opens the CD sung in English and ends it in French. (FS)

 

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