But this is a record that grabs attention right from the start, with its surfeit of invention, ideas and imagination. Glyn's music is difficult to get a handle on at first, with so many first-impressions forming a bewildering headlong rush through the ears.
The kinda spaghetti-western-smalltown image that might readily be conjured up by the album's title is one that translates into the slightly cheesy musical idiom Glyn adopts on Yahoo! And, in keeping with those tales of the old West too I suppose, Glyn's writing displays a strong sense of narrative too, as proved by the eight-minute epic Ballad Of Deano. Basically, Glyn can't resist drawing attention to himself by means of undeniably impressive, powerfully crafted musical settings and lyrics that passionately and eloquently embrace entirely justified criticism of the unforgivingly corrupt corporate world in which we try to survive.
Also, you can't ignore Glyn's acute and well-developed feel for bright and bold instrumental colour and creative texturing: If you take things at sound-face value, there's quite a feelgood aura to the album generally, notably on the bouncy sunshine-pop of Down Amongst The Living and the iron-clad stompsome beat of School Reunion, and even on the more sinister numbers like The Doomed Ship Allegory and The Clown a very Bowie-esque portrait of a paedophile.
Payback-time comes quite literally on Groomed, an examination of coercion and abuse, which comes on like a breathless cross between The Cure's Love Cats and the Hustle theme tune. A first hearing of tracks like Kafkaesque World can be distinctly overwhelming, with its potent juxtapositions lavish musical setting with smooth crooning delivery to voice the thoughts and words of a torturer.
Elsewhere, perhaps, it can be all too easy to get the feeling that Glyn is deliberately setting out to make an Impact capital "I"! Yet, just as with any situation where there's a definite brimming-over-surfeit of artistic creativity, this eventually involves an element of excess that needs trimming - or at least channelling: In addition, and in spite of the strong sense of integrity that permeates Glyn's lyrical and musical vision, I can't altogether escape a feeling that pastiche is lurking not too far away at times; and this can leave an often desperately unsettling taste.
But then again, as with much music that unsettles, to whatever degree, it's perversely compelling, and against initial expectations I've found myself both returning to a good deal of this disc and keen to explore Glyn's two previous albums.. Education should be fun, and a child's natural enjoyment of, and willing participation in music, can be both a vital element and a useful tool.
And not just to prove the point, Roy has always included a short sequence of children's songs in his live sets, which have appealed every bit as much to the adults in his audience! The first children's album Roy made was Oats And Beans And Kangaroos, back in the mids, and as recently as nine years ago, the birth of his eldest granddaughter Jessica provided the impetus for the lovely Up The Wooden Hill collection. Now Roy has produced his final oh yes!!
And of course it's a totally engaging disc, attractively packaged and entirely unpatronising for a children's record doesn't have to be full of obvious childlike songs! The key lies naturally in the CD's title - Tomorrow - which is shorthand for that all-important message for his own, and indeed all, grandchildren: The final two songs - Together Tomorrow and Tomorrow Lies In The Cradle the latter penned by Fred Hellerman of the Weavers group are not only practically unknown but turn out to be particularly moving, for they point this message into our consciousness ever so delightfully and leave us thinking.
Closer to home, Molly's Garden is a thoroughly charming ditty penned by Kit Roy's daughter and Molly's mum , while The Collier Brig a favourite song of Molly's even gets an unexpected airing. And when the kids have been captivated and are almost ready for bed, Roy tucks them up with the poetic story of My Pet Dragon by John Maguire , which is gently enhanced by atmospheric sea sounds created by that good Mr Kirkpatrick's accordion bellows!
In addition to the welcomely omnipresent JK, the album's signature musical backing is provided largely by Martin Simpson, Chris Coe and Andy Seward, with contributions from Andy Cutting and David Bailey and occasional chorus vocals from the assembled Bailey clan.
So I guess a further release was inevitable! And let me say at the outset that it finds Roy on finest possible form: Roy's renewed vigour is the stuff of legend, but I could say it's right there in the grooves of this record for you to reach out and touch Andy Seward has done a splendid job in capturing both the joy and strength of Roy's singing.
And of course in his choice of songs: Pride of place this time round goes to the four stunning songs from the pen of Seattle-based Jim Page, whose effective and resonant utilisation-cum-paraphrasing of borrowings from traditional and contemporary folk songs clearly strikes a chord in Roy while also recalling the comparable skill of our own Ray Hearne.
But Roy keenly embraces the sentiments of each and every song he sings, whether it's George Papavgeris's all-encompassing and life-affirming anthem Friends Like These or Ian Campbell's epic and darkly prophetic Old Man's Tale. Here Roy also brings us a contrasted pair of fine songs by David Ferrard: Continuing Roy's own personal tradition, there's a song apiece by Si Kahn and Leon Rosselson well, the latter's Leon's setting of Charles Causley's Timothy Winters , while "actual" tradition is represented by a lovely version of The Road To Dundee and a fine rendition of Handsome Molly, on which one of Roy's backing musicians is Martin Simpson, whose own recording of the song is considered a benchmark.
Roy's other instrumental collaborators here - John Kirkpatrick, Andy Cutting, Donald Grant and Andy Seward - give of their very best, playing with spirit and commitment throughout in lovingly-contoured, full-toned yet light and sensitive arrangements. Every track is both memorable and relevant, a further demonstration of Roy's total integrity, and the whole set forms both a cause for celebration of half-a-century of bringing folk music to a wide audience and yet another high point in Roy's illustrious career.
These are affectionate, genial, commendably polished and admirably conservative though not especially sedate renditions which make a virtue out of their intrinsic Irish character and its lovable honesty.
Apart, that is, from an empathic take on A Song For Ireland itself and a particularly thoughtfully-turned version of The Ould Triangle these, more than any other tracks, make it clear that this project is rather a labour of love for Michael and Anthony, who are companionably accompanied on their worthy mission by guest musicians Paul Gurney, Noel Carberry, Aoife Kelly and Johnny Duffy on piano, bass, accordion, fiddle, banjo, uilleann pipes and whistles in straightforward and unfussy arrangements.
Hereby refreshingly stripped of the customary layers of ages of grimy pub, club and showband sentimentality, these renditions of the songs that represent the Irish psyche together form a classy, and in the end likeable enough, tourist's-ear-view of popular Irish song, I'd say. David Kidman July Aly Bain et al. This film was a natural follow-on from the Channel 4 series Down Home, and later paved the way for key collaborations in the Transatlantic Sessions series.
This celebration of cajun music and culture includes plenty of footage of musicians in their home environment, often in the same room as groups of dancers, and a tremendous feel of intense enjoyment permeates every second. Other, arguably lesser-known artists appearing include charismatic fiddler Harry LaFleur, vibrant singer D. Menard with his Louisiana Aces and champion of progressive cajun, Wayne Toups; and Aly can be seen adding his trois sous to the musical gumbo by joining in enthusiastically at every session opportunity!
This minute film is over way too soon, and fair exudes joie de vivre par excellence! As does the accompanying CD, which contains 16 full-length music tracks from the film's featured artists 9 of the cuts also involve Bain himself. These are presented in the same order as they occur on the documentary, although the audio CD omits two additional song performances the rockin' Zydecajun Train by Wayne Toups and Raywood by Queen Ida respectively which are exclusive to the DVD and otherwise would've conveniently slotted in after track 11 and before track 15 total playing-time of the CD would easily have permitted their inclusion.
While on the other hand, tracks 12, 13, 14 and 16 of the audio CD are exclusive to that format But hey, laissez les bons temps rouler! Inevitably it's a further sparkling illustration of everything they do best, and as such not an easy album to review without indulging in the well-worn superlatives. Equally inevitably though, any fan of these guys' fabulous musicianship will need a copy of this self-recommending record.
It's probably invidious to single out individual tracks for special praise, since the duo are proven masters of so many different forms and styles of traditional music, and it's probably fair to say that I enjoyed specific tracks in specific moods.
But, if pushed, I'd recommend first the stirring opening set of Irish slides that lights my candle every time, not least due to the extra buzz generated by McGoldrick's uilleann pipes.
The fiddle-led set of wedding reels track 8 packs a hefty drive yet with a lightness of touch, while there's an irresistible authentic ceilidh-band feel to the bouncy pipe-marches of the final track that won't fail to get your feet tapping. Of the slower-paced tracks that are sensibly interspersed amongst the uptempo selections, the Rev. William Macleod's fine air Sitting In The Stern Of A Boat is the highlight for me, although the sequence also includes three gorgeous waltzes that prove perfect showcases for the musicians' inborn expressive elan.
Two abundantly fine musicians still at the top of their game after a quarter of a century - and showing no signs of decline whatsoever. So in many respects, the time is now ripe for a suitably comprehensive overview of Aly's career to date.
And barring a Free Reed box-set, a goodly series of "best-of" discs should be the next best thing. So here's volume 1 the title I hope being a genuine indicator of Whirlie's future plans , with 16 tracks carefully chosen by Aly himself. Although it's not sequenced strictly chronologically, the disc does begin sensibly with a typical set of reels from Aly's very first solo CD, recorded in Lerwick back in , with Aly's dashing bow-strokes equally dashingly accompanied by the wonderfully sympathetic piano of Violet Tulloch and the guitar of Willie Johnson.
And from even earlier, there's a track from The Silver Bow, the mid-seventies Topic disc with Tom Anderson which did so much to bring Shetland music into public consciousness after years of commercial obscurity.
Elsewhere, the disc travels around much like the itinerant Aly himself! As an instance of this, we need look no further than the legendary Transatlantic Sessions projects, of course, and a sparkling Waiting For The Federals from Series 2 is included here; but then not everyone knows that the even more legendary Channel 4 series Down Home was TS's precursor, and this disc includes no fewer than four brilliant tracks from the recording sessions for the series hopefully as a taster for the release of the whole shebang on disc soon, please!
Hearing Aly firing away in the company of illustrious fiddlers from anywhere on the planet is always one of the deepest joys that can be experienced, and for me the "session" could go on all night and into the next week and I'd still want more! Then, to balance these euphoric moments, the disc presents several of the thoughtfully considered slower compositions and arrangements in which Aly has also always excelled.
Finally, no Aly Bain collection would be complete without one of his many recordings of the traditional Shetland air Da Day Dawn, and he's chosen one of the very finest, the one with the BT Scottish Ensemble. This is a cannily sequenced minute collection that's pretty comprehensive in its own right and works well as an independent listening programme, but on the other hand it can't help but leave me with that niggling feeling of incompleteness.
Because I just know there's so much more out there in Aly's impressively exhaustive discography, and many of the original albums aren't all that readily or any longer available. I suppose it's rather like the tip of an enormous iceberg floating in the ocean between Orkney and mainland Scotland, the catch being that the majority of the rest of that ice-floe may well be destined to remain beneath the surface. OK maybe I'm being needlessly pessimistic here - let's hope I'm proved wrong, and there now ensues a veritable flood of Aly Bain reissues!
Baird quit to go solo in but after the first two albums, Love Songs For The Hearing Impaired and Buffalo Nickel, his career's been somewhat patchy. Hodges now onboard, this marks something of a return to form. There's no envelope pushing going on, but what you do get is solid, beer-swilling, swaggering Southern country rock n roll with cranked up ringing guitars, rolling riff-packed melodies, throaty twang vocals and air punching choruses. It won't change your life, but pour a cold one and crank the likes of Lazy Monday and Runnin' Outta Time up loud, and it could well make your evening.