A Review of Taxi Chain CD
"Smarten Up!"

"Smarten Up!"
by Taxi Chain

Copyright: NorthernBlues Music 2004.
(NorthernBlues Music NBM0019)

This review is written by Dai Woosnam, daigress@hotmail.com, 3/04

Worry not! This is not a spoken word instructional album by some “sartorial guru”: instead, we are helpfully told by the band's excellent website that “smarten up!” is Canadianese for “engage your brain!”…or words to that effect.

And this album DOES engage the brain: well for a few minutes at least. It starts with the strongest track “Memphis” which contains the best lyrics by far on the album. Alas, this is the high water mark: the tracks following do not quite match it. But no worries: I was not being dismissive when I threw in that phrase “for a few minutes at least” at the start of this paragraph. The truth is that the CD moves from engaging the BRAIN, to engaging OTHER parts of the body, notably one's feet. It is difficult to keep them still: the band bring a goodtime feel to their music. An album to really help lift your mood.

It's an interestingly eclectic collection of instruments that this 5-piece Toronto-based band play: bagpipes, guitar, saxophone, drums and double-bass. Piper/vocalist Grier Coppins seems to be the creative force behind much of their output: and he has the most interesting of quirky voices. He sounds like he is the secret lovechild of Charles Bukowski and Olive Oyl.

The liner notes are not bad at all ­ in that they are well presented ­ but an opportunity has been missed here. They have been used for printing the lyrics: but the fact is that Coppins's diction is never in question, and most of the lyrics to not really stand up to detailed scrutiny. Much better had they used the space for the fascinating INSIGHTS into every song that you find on their website (www.taxichain.com) if you click on “Banter”.

I bet this is a good band to see perform live: that is their natural home.

But, that said, I should add that the recording studio is not alien territory for them, judging by this CD. One respects the fact that eclecticism is their byword, and in a musical world where things become more-and-more compartmentalised, it is nice to see a band which puts two fingers up to all that specialisation!

Buy it fromwww.northernblues.com or the aforementionedwww.taxichain.com

Dai Woosnam
Grimsby, England

Track List:

All written by Grier Coppins except "Smarten Up!" (trad).

Ownership, copyright and title of this UK folk music CD review belongs to Dai Woosnam. Ownership, copyright and title are not transferable or assignable to you or other parties regardless of how or if you or other parties use, copy, save, backup, store, retrieve, transmit, display, publish, modify or share the CD review in whole or in part. Please read the "Terms, Conditions and Disclaimer" section on my web site for additional information about using, quoting, or reprinting this CD review.

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