A Review of the CD
"Outlaws & Dreamers"
by Dick Gaughan


"Outlaws & Dreamers"
by Dick Gaughan

Copyright 2001
Appleseed Recordings
P.O. Box 2593
West Chester, PA 19380
ph: (610)-701-5755
http://www.appleseedrec.com and
mailto:FOLKRADICL@aol.com and
http://www.dickalba.demon.co.uk

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 11/01
"Kevin’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
http://www.kevindmccarthy.com/music/index.html
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In the rhythm of the featured Si Kahn cut "What You Do With What You've Got," this release is Dick Gaughan’s life code. What it’s not is a collection of sweet but forgettable, puff piece melodies. Gaughan has dipped into the works of his spiritual compatriots, Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs and the aforementioned Si Kahn, added some choice work of fellow Scotsman Brian McNeill, and once again molded a release grounded on the linchpins of freedom and equality.

Interestingly enough, although he has never really been recognized for his songwriting, the most powerful piece is Gaughan’s own, the title cut, "Outlaws & Dreamers." Aligning himself with those who, throughout time, hold on to their sense of right and wrong and refuse to sway when societal pressures come to bear, Gaughan sings:

"...They've called me an outlaw
They've called me a dreamer
They said I would change
As I aged and grew old
That the memory would fade
Of the things I had lived through
That the flash fire of youth
Would slowly turn cold...

...So here’s to the vision
That binds us together
That tears down the walls
That would keep us apart
And here’s to the future
Where dreams will be honoured
And the firece flame of freedom
That burns in our hearts..."

Kahn’s ode to realizing full human potential, "What You Do With What You've Got," is given a forceful treatment. The powerful chorus:
"...It’s not just what you're born with
It’s what you choose to bear
It’s not how big your share is
But how much you can share
And its not the fights you dreamed of
But those you really fought
It’s not what you've been given
It’s what you do with what you've got..."
Gaughan also dusts off and presents historical figures Tom Paine and John Harrison to new generations. "Tom Paine’s Bones," penned by Graham Moore, resurrects the important roles Paine played in both the American and French Revolutions. Paine basks in obscurity despite authoring the tracts "Common Sense," "The Rights Of Man" and "The Age Of Reason." Gaughan laments:
"...Old Tom Paine, there he lies
Nobody laughs and nobody cries
Where he’s gone or how he fares
Nobody knows--and nobody cares..."
Harrison, inventor of the very first clock sailors used to find longitude, was haughtily belittled by the powers that be due to his lower social standing. For years denied the prize money for his invention, he was finally awarded the money at age 80. As Gaughan concludes the tune:
"...How many lives
How many talents
Were tainted by the poisoned well
Of power from which they drank?
But the wind that drives
The bold topgallants
Was harnessed by an man with
Neither privilege nor rank,
And the sailor lads, they knew and gave their thanks..."
Ochs' "When I'm Gone" provides the opportunity for a more subtle Gaughan delivery. He’s back, however, at his snarling best in Guthrie’s song of migration and social injustice, "Tom Joad."

"The Yew Tree" provides an arboreal viewpoint of characters and times in Scottish history. The battles with England, John Knox’s religious ascendency and the exploitation of the weak and disenfranchised are all recounted with this closing admonition:

"...But a wee bird flew out from your branches
An sang out as never before,
An the song that you sang was a thousand years long
Let’s learn them before many more..."
Gaughan’s back with his unique song stylings, plus moments of greater reflection than present in previous releases. Having never been a fencesitter, he remains as strong and unequivocal as ever before.

Track List:


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