Green Linnet Records, Inc.
43 Beaver Brook Road
Danbury, CT 06810 U.S.A.
ph: (800)-468-6644 or (203)-730-0333
This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 1/98
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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This 1996 sampler features 9 instrumentals and three songs as a preview of the actual 20th Anniversary Collection (a 2-CD collection offering 38 tracks). My preference would have been for a more even split of songs and instrumentals but this recording presents a solid mixture of old and relatively new bands, offering the venerable stalwarts of Celtic music (Altan, Deanta, Capercaillie, The Tannahill Weavers) and the newer (Moving Cloud, Trian, Reeltime).
What is unfortunately missing from this sampler is liner notes. The only musical details provided are the artist, the musical piece and on which Green Linnet CD it can be found, on the back of the cardboard "jewel box".
Reeltime begins the set with the instrumental "Gort to Texas to Honolulu," from their debut album "Reeltime." This light, bouncy number is a great opener because its cowboy-western beat sparks the imagination and brings to fruition the idea that Celtic music has no boundaries. It sent me rummaging through my closet for my Texas two-step boots.
The instrumental, "The Wishing Tree," by Seamus McGuire comes next. This title cut of his album plays like a classical music piece as this master of the viola is well known for his slow airs and waltzes. This cut dovetails well with Reeltime's opening piece as, again, it demonstrates yet another aspect of the Celtic music fold. Initially, the piece's pace and sound was off-putting to me but after more listenings, I grew to appreciate it as it grabbed my attention.
"Culloden's Harvest," Deanta's song from their 1990 "Ready For The Storm" album, follows featuring the chilling voice of Mary Dillon. This mournful selection hammers home the brutality of power "by muskets and cannon against honor and courage", detailing the defeat in 1746 of Bonnie Prince Charlie but also covering the innumerable times and events throughout Celtic history where the nobility and righteousness of the fight wasn't unfortunately enough to triumph.
Eileen Ivers' fiddle piece "On Horseback" from her 1996 release "Wildblue," is next and it is a jazzy, lively, uptempo number that has a strong "Parisian" feel to it. Listening to it, I felt transported to the boulevards of the French capital, dashing from club to club.
Next, the Chicago-born concertina/button accordianist John Williams (now a member of Solas) plays the "Winnie Hayes Jig/The Lonesome Jig" instrumental from his self titled "John Williams" CD. After Ivers' fiddle, the placement of this tune was a good moment to feature one of the mainstay instruments of Celtic music.
"Pharoah," a vocal from The House Band's "The World Is A Wonderful Place" album, follows with an interesting take on life of a laborer in the time of the Egyptian pharoahs. My mind instantly transposed that setting with what it was like (and is still like) for many Irish and Scottish immigrants (and others) forced to either leave their homeland to seek a living elsewhere where they are treated like serfs, or remain at home and work, if lucky, for the powers that be, and be treated like serfs.
The Tannahill Weavers' lively instrumental "Gray Bob's Set" is next from their 1994 "Capernaum" release that won Celtic album of the year at NAIRD (National Association of Independent Record Distributors Awards).
The clean, clear, magical music of Martin Hayes' "The Crooked Road/The Foxhunter's Reel" follows providing a toe-tapping fiddle instrumental. From his 1995 "Under The Moon" CD, this is Hayes at his best, producing sounds that his fellow fiddlers must only be able to dream of producing. After listening to his work, I'm left wondering, "how does he do that?"
The traditional County Donegal-based band, Altan, is featured next with the instrumental "Fermanagh/Donegal Highland/John Doherty's/King George IV" from their 1993 "Island Angel" release. Founded by Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh and the late Frankie Kennedy, Altan is a Green Linnet and Celtic music mainstay, generally featuring instrumental interspersed with Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh's haunting vocals on songs.
Capercaillie, a Scottish traditional music band suffering, according to some critics, from a recent pop influence in their music, follows with the slow Gaelic "Oh Mo Dhuthaich" from their 1989 release "Sidewaulk." Featuring the singing of Karen Matheson, this is the third of the three vocals on this CD.
Trian, consisting of guitarist Daithi Sproule (an Altan member), accordianist Billy McComiskey, and fiddler Liz Carroll feature the instrumental "The Humors Of Bally Connell/Reel Eboulement/ Richie Dwyer's" from their Trian II album. "Reel Eboulement" is the most striking piece due to its French Breton feel.
"The Chinese Polka/William Durette's Clog/The Boys Of The Lough" from Moving Cloud's CD "Moving Cloud" closes out the sampler. A good selection to finish with, this County Clare-based quintet reminds us of the lack of parameters within Celtic music with a polka, wonderful clog dancing sounds in the middlepiece, and a good play on words with the last selection (The Boys Of The Lough being a Celtic band).
I would have preferred an Andy M. Stewart, a Dick Gaughan, and a Silly Wizard cut to also be featured on this sampler but those artists are included in the overall 2-CD set (surprisingly, except Stewart). Still, this sampler gives novices a starting point for exploration of the Celtic music world and will also provide Celtic music veterans with snippets of fairly new bands to explore.
Copyright 1998, Kevin McCarthy and The Peterborough Folk Music Society. This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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