Friday, February 25, 2011

Talitha MacKenzie - Sòlas (USA 1993) @320

Producers: Iain McKinna, Chris Birkett, Talitha MacKenzie.
Recorded at Palladium Studios, Edinburgh, Scotland and CB Sound, London England.
Starting from a multilayered treatment of a Hebridean waulking song nestled in electronics, this solo release by the Mouth Music alumnus keeps getting better -- until the halfway point, when the disc doesn't so much run out of steam as abandons its smarts. The best cuts show how the eccentricities and earthiness of Celtic music lend themselves to various traditional and avant-garde marriages, like "Sein O," which embeds a clipped-syllable puirt-a-beul lyric in a bogle rhythm introduced by a hair-raising sample of Huun Huur Tu's Tuvan throat inging. But the ode to positive thinking "Owen's Boat" belongs in a TV movie, and "Chi mi na Morbheanan/JFK" uses St. Jack soundbites about fighting tyranny without a trace of irony -- hallowing our descent into Southeast Asia. Decent songs do follow...
~ Bob Tarte

01. Hoireann ó
02. Sheatadh Cailleach
03. 'S Muladach mi ('s mi air m'aineoil)
04. E hó hì
05. Seinn O!
06. Uamh an Oir
07. Owen's Boat
08. Chì mi na Mórbheanna/JFK
09. Rol hol ill leò
10. Funky Bird Medley
11. Théid mi dhachaigh

Talitha MacKenzie (vocals, piano, keyboards, percussion);
Ross MacKenzie (spoken vocals);
Chris Birkett (vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, programming);
Ian Plested (vocals);
Ian McKinna (guitar, bass, percussion, programming, background vocals);
Moray Rumney (fiddle, background vocals);
Gavin Marwick (fiddle);
Gary Spacey-Foote (flute);
Richard Allan (saxophone);
Mike Nolan (piano, keyboards);
Gary West (pipe drone);
Jim Walker (drums);
Dave Aitch (percussion);
Alasdair Macleod (clarsach, background vocals);


Monday, February 14, 2011

Gráda - Off to Sardinia (2001 Ireland) @320

By request

Gráda is a traditional Irish music band, founded in 2001, whose members are a mix of Irish and New Zealand musicians. Gráda are based in Dublin and Galway, Ireland, but spend much of their time touring internationally. In 2006, Gráda played in 16 different countries.

The group draws from a wide range of influences, which has seen them working with Dave Hingerty (ex Frames drummer, now working a lot with Josh Ritter); Vyviene Long (cellist with Damien Rice); and, as a producer, Trevor Hutchinson (Lúnasa, Sharon Shannon, The Waterboys). Further additions have included Dublin based trumpeter Bill Blackmore and percussionist Rasmus Skovmand.

01 - Arty House Set (Reels)
02 - Song of Choice (Song)
03 - Kiwi Set (Jigs)
04 - If You Ever Go Down To Dublin Town (song)
05 - The Dub Dub Set (Reels)
06 - Maggies Set (Hornpipes)
07 - Skibbereen (Song)
08 - Sweet County Clare  (Song)
09 - What the Feck! (Reel-Jig)
10 - Johnny Be fine (song)
11 - Off To Sardinia (slow Reel)

Alan Doherty: Flutes, Whistles, Vocals, Percussion
Andrew Laking: Double Bass, Vocals, Guitar
Brendan O'Sullivan: Fiddle, Background vocals
Gerry Paul: Guitars, Vocals
Anne-Marie: Vocals, Bodhran
Frankie Lane: Dobro, Background vocals.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Old Blind Dogs - Close to the Bone (Scotland 1993) @320

Their second CD was Close to the Bone. Every Old Blind Dogs album consists of two elements: superb songs and tasty tunes. An example of the latter is "Linden Rise," a driving reel composed by Jonny Cunningham of Silly Wizard fame. The percussive backbeat is part of a wall of sound of guitar, fiddle, and bass. Likewise, "MacPherson's Rant" is a lovely version of a song written by James MacPherson, who was hanged at Banff in the year 1700. (This is appropriate, as many of the protagonists of OBD songs come to very bad ends.) Other highlights of this album are two songs familiar to any fan of Celtic music: "Cruel Sister" and "Twa Corbies." The very thick Scottish burr of Ian Benzie adds a cold, horrific feel to songs that are already depressing enough as "Cruel Sister" has the rib cage of a murdered sister turned into a harp that sings the tale of the murder, and "Twa Corbies" has two ravens
feasting on the flesh of a dead knight. (Both are from Francis James Child's English and Scottish Popular Ballads.)
~ Jack B. Merry, GreenManReview

01. Kilbogie
02. Linden Rise
03. The Cruel Sister
04. The Honeymoon Reel/ Kings/The Clayslaps Reel
05. The Twa Corbies
06. The Universal Hall/ The Nuptial Knot/The Barlinnie Highlander
07. MacPherson's Rant/The Winging
08. Seonaidh Mor/The Fall/Dick Gossops
09. Margaret Cromar
10. The Trooper and The Maid or The Trumpet Sounds At Burreldales
11. The Broken Pledge/Claggy's Dilemma/Hamilton's Jig
12. Jean O'Bethelnie (Glenlogie)

Ian F. Benzie (guitar, vocals)
Jonny Hardie (fiddle, mandolin, guitar, backing vocals)
Buzby McMillan (cittern, bass)
Davy Cattanach (percussion)
Iain Clavey (Mandole)

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