A Review of the CD
"The Swan Necked Valve"
by Alistair Brown

"The Swan Necked Valve"
by Alistair Brown

Copyright 1996 - Alistair Brown
Alistair Brown c/o Ian Davies
17-1415 Commissioners Rd. W., London, ON N6K 1E2 Canada


This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 11/98
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Brown, a Scottish emigrant residing in Canada since 1972, offers a full, 18-cut CD here, covering the spectrum of sea songs, witty ditties, loves found, lost and tested, a Robert Burns tune, and updated versions of some fine traditional songs.

His "life at sea" tunes describe: what a lonely wife is up to while sailor Jack is off enjoying the affections of ladies of the world (Dockyard Gate); sailing with the British merchant navy (The Old Red Duster); a sailor's resolution to make up for more than a brief flirtation, made from "his safe vantage point several miles out at sea" (Magdalene Green); and an upbeat ship's crew heading home after many months at sea (Jamestown).

Employing the humor angle for which Brown displays a marvelously jaunty flair, "The Dundee Ghost," "The Seven Deadly Sins," and "The Funeral" all are delightful and enjoyable. He performs "The Seven Deadly Sins" a cappella. Don't start counting up the sins committed by the wife in the song though, as some are missing so the total doesn't reach seven. However, the long-suffering husband certainly has endured enough situations without having his wife carry out any additional sinful escapades. This tune provides some great visuals through its lyrics. In "The Funeral", the subject, after suffering verbal and physical insults, vows to never attend a funeral again unless the "fellow actually has died".

The mournful "Laundromat Lover" is about a chance meeting between two people in a not so glamorous setting, which has possibilities for developing a relationship. But even after sharing both a drink AND the dryer, the lass informs the laddie that she is already spoken for and heads off. This cut contains (intentionally?) bad but amusing and creative laundromat and love metaphors. Writer John Kirkpatrick deserves kudos on this one.

Versions of "Cairnomount," Burns' "A Man's a Man for a' That," "Jock o' Hazeldene," "Kilbowie Hill," and "Will Ye Gang Love" are all strongly effective. Brown's "Jock o' Hazeldene" is an especially nice version.

Brown provides quite a bit in this release, with the aforementioned 18 cuts and close to 70 musical minutes. This is singer-raconteur material, with no blazing reels or such. His bass voice works well with his musical selections.

The liner notes contain helpful background information on each song. Lyrics are missing and would be helpful as Brown's accent obscures words at times.

Brown, on vocals, anglo concertina, button accordian and harmonica, is ably assisted by Roger Houghton on guitar, Jeff McClintock on piano and Laurence Stevenson on violin, mandolin, mandola, low "D" whistle, hammer dulcimer, and bass.

Track List:

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