This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 10/00
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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If Canada ever needs to offer up a nomination in the category of Renaissance Man, Grit Laskin would certainly be a fine choice. This renowned guitar maker is also an excellent instrumentalist (can anyone say mandolin, guitar, Northumbrian smallpipes, concertina, tin whistle, button accordion and Appalachian dulcimer?), songwriter, vocalist, interpreter of other's tunes and all-around tale teller.
On this two-disc release, based mostly on recordings made between 1979 and 1985, he primarily utilizes traditional British sound and song structures, some borrowed and others of his own composing. The level of his talent is evident since the listener cannot tell the difference. Additional treats are Laskin's tongue-in-cheek humor offerings and his various takes on the state of the human condition.
Among the best of the songs are "Cosmic and Freaky," an a cappella offering that transports one back to the 1970s with the use of hip lingo of that era. "The Oldest Man in the World" highlights the reasons behind the longevity of the inhabitants of what used to be the Georgia area of the U.S.S.R. Clever double entendres raise "The Photographers" to the level of a classic. The lasciviousness that Laskin conjures up just by utilizing such mundane words and phrases as tripod, camera case, accessories, wide open shutter and camera lens with a filter on, is simultaneously arousing and funny.
"The End of a Pointed Gun," written just after the 1972 massacre of 11 Israeli Olympians in Munich, illuminates the irony sometimes involved in the use of force. Measuring the reaction to the executions, Laskin depicts a father of one of the Olympians noting "one found his birth (of his homeland), one found his death, at the end of a pointed gun."
He makes a forceful case by eloquently presenting the right to end one's own life on one's own terms in "Shut Off The Power And Say Goodbye." "Macho Man" provides more humor amidst some rightful male bashing and "A Fair Maid Walking" satirizes the longstanding, often prevalent element in British and Irish songs, of patiently, sometimes eternally, waiting for a love to return.
The most interesting of the many instrumentals is "The Old World and the New" in which Laskin gradually transports the listener from an Eastern European sound to one more contemporary, symbolizing the journey, acceptance and absorption of emigrants into a new land and culture. His other instrumentals cover the gamut from jigs to airs to polkas with a litany of instrumental backing--fiddle, concertina, piano, mandolin, guitar, bodhran and pipes.
Prepare to smile, probably laugh, tap your toes, ruminate a bit and be thoroughly entertained by this release. Laskin has touched all the bases here.
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