A Review of the Bob Hay & The Jolly Beggars CD
"Toils Obscure"

"Toils Obscure
by Bob Hay & The Jolly Beggars

all songs public domain
arrangements copyright 2004 Bob Hay
P.O. Box 23
Athens, GA 30603

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 3/05
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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For a guy over 200 years old, Robbie Burns still gets around mighty well.

First, we had Eddi Reader's "Sings The Songs Of Robert Burns" and now Bob Hay and The Jolly Beggars with another collection of Burns compositions. Despite his death at age 37, the creative prolificness of this Scottish composer is given tribute by the fact that there are no duplicate songs on these separate releases.

This offering is a strings galore acoustic production with Burns' material nestled primarily into banjo, mandolin, fiddle and guitar backing. The last few offerings are Hay solo with guitar.There's not a MacLean, Gaughan or Stewart in sight as Hay also provides the vocals with some backup harmonies.

Borne out of Hay's one-man-show "Bobby Burns One," this production is different than most because of the stringed instrument bonanza that is the essence here.

Hay's vocals are adequate but a translation of some of dialect Burns used is sometimes needed for understanding. Having written that, the genealogical phrase 'kith and kin,' used in the compelling ballad "Hughie Graham," always charms me.

"Rantin' rovin' Robin" is the opener, a great choice because its rhythm immediately invades the listener's body and forces movement.

Curiously, the cut 'Bard of no regard" has both the same rhythm and a repeat of some of the same phrases as the final selection "For a' that."

With Burns at his best in mixing ardor and nature, the love song "The lea-rig" is compellingly rendered, as is "Collier Laddie."

Maybe Robert Burns had no one signature song because, luckily for us, he had so many. And it is also in our favor that a number of them appear here as they do, bathed in an enjoyable mix of stringed instruments.

Bob Hay on banjo and vocals, is backed by Bill David on mandolin; Ken Starratt on bass; Diana Torell on fiddle; Dave Dowless on guitar; and Brian Crum on brush percussion as the Jolly Beggars.

Track List:

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