A Review of the CD
"The Man With a Rhyme"
by Archie Fisher
"The Man With a Rhyme"
Copyright 1997 CD-61
by Archie Fisher
P.O. Box 1148
Sharon, CT 06069
This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 7/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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The answer is: a gentle presentation, soaked in authenticity and tradition,
radiating a quiet power. The question? "What is Archie Fisher's re-release
of "The Man With a Rhyme," first issued in 1976?" Even back in the 70s,
the relatively youngish Fisher emanated a certain cachet, charming and
intriguing listeners with a mixture of versions of long-ago tunes blended
with his own compositions. This release is the incontrovertible evidence.
The finest cuts here are Fisher's own creations: "Dark Eyed Molly,"
"Western Island" and "Witch of the West-mer-lands," (possibly better known
for its rollicking rendition by the late Canadian folksinger Stan Rogers).
The subdued "Dark Eyed Molly" presents Fisher on vocals and guitar depicting
a man fervently wishing to, but unsure of the viability of, renewing a
relationship with his still-beloved. Haunted by visions of her deep dark
eyes and swirling brown hair, he is initially defiant but then frankly
honest in his reaction to the possibility of failure:
"...And if my waiting prove in vain,
The rhythmic "Western Island," with Fisher again simply on vocals and guitar,
paints a stark portrait of the concurrent independence and inter-dependence
of man with both his fellow humans and the natural environment. Fisher
Then I will pack and track ever take me.
And the long road will ease my pain.
No gem of womankind will make me
E'er whisper love's words again...
For in drink I'll seek good company,
My ears will ring with the tavern's laughter,
And I'll hear not her last sweet sighs.
Then who's to know, in the morning after,
That I long for her dear dark eyes."
"I came to a western island;
He concludes with:
As far as a man can walk is my land.
I cleared ten acres and a house I built
Into the side of the hill...
Some nights, when the bright lights flicker
I sail to the mainland for my liquor.
Haven't got a woman to call my own,
But I never wake up alone...
A man needs to feel the ground,
"Witch of the West-mer-lands," arguably Fisher's greatest song to date,
is a masterfully crafted ballad echoing mythology and legend. It is as
vivid and evocative as a short story, with Fisher magically capturing time
and place. He opens the tune with:
And the wind to tell him that the world spins around;
To watch the stars and taste the sea,
And a woman to keep him free..."
"Pale was the wounded knight
The knight, initially alarmed by the appearance of the witch, composed
of "half the form of a maiden fair with a jet black mare's body," finally
succumbs to her treatment:
That bore the rowan shield,
and cruel were the raven's cries
That feasted on the field, saying:
'Beck (brook) water, cold and clear,
Will never clean your wound.
There's none but the Maid of the Winding mere
Can mak' thee hale and sound..."
"...And she stood in a gown of the velvet blue,
Stewart MacGregor's "Coshieville" has an itinerant construction worker
moving with his work, nonchalantly spurning his local lover:
Bound 'round with a silver chain.
She's kissed his pale lips aince and twice
And three times 'round again.
She's bound his wound with the goldenrod:
Full fast in her arms he lay,
And he has risen, hale and sound,
Wi' the sun high in the day. She said:
'Ride with your brindled hounds at heel
And your good grey hawk in hand.
There's nane can harm a knight wha's lain
With the Witch of the West-mer-land."
"...We carved our names in Coshieville;
He eventually returns but discovers it is too late--for him:
The rown leaves were still.
But the darkening west was in your eyes;
Despite your kisses and my lies,
My thoughts had crossed the hill.
I broke your heart as the minutes passed,
For I shrugged and said that nothing lasts,
But many's the backward glances I cast
As I went north to the drill..."
"...And I came at night to Coshieville,
The remaining cuts are almost exclusively traditional pieces. Fisher has
chosen his material well and even added "Helen of Kirkconnell Lea" to this
offering. This release contains more traditional material than Fisher's
1995 masterpiece "Sunsets I've Galloped Into" but it showcases his ability
to breathe new life and interpretation into sometimes dusty, timeworn tales.
With a dozen hills aflame.
You had another hand to hold;
Beneath the names we carved of old
There was another name.
You looked me through, you made no sign.
I drank the cup of bitter wine,
For well we knew the fault was mine,
And I went the road I came."
Fisher is ably backed by Wendy Grossman on concertina, banjo and dulcimer;
Kathy Westra on cello; Lani Herrmann on fiddle; Ann Mayo Muir on flute;
and Lorraine Lee on dulcimer.
- Two Bonnie Maidens (3:23)
- Welcome, Royal Charlie (3:03)
- Dark Eyed Molly (2:59)
- Queen Amang the Heather (3:49)
- Jock Stewart (2:57)
- Witch of the West-mer-lands (4:38)
- The Echo Mocks the Corncrake (2:42)
- Western Island (2:01)
- Upstairs, Downstairs (1:58)
- Mount and Go (3:13)
- The Wounded Whale (4:09)
- The Cruel Brother (5:45)
- Helen of Kirkconnell Lea (3:29)
- Coshieville (3:04))
- South Wind (3:19)
Copyright © 1998-2015 Kevin & Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews. All rights reserved.
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