A Review of the CD
"Sand In Your Shoes"
by Ralph McTell


"Sand In Your Shoes"
by Ralph McTell

Red House Records, Inc.
P.O. Box 4044
St. Paul, MN 55104
under license from Leola Music Ltd.
ph: (800)-695-4687
fax: (612)-644-4248
http://www.redhouserecords.com/
mailto:customerservice@redhouserecords.com

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 3/98
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
http://www.kevindmccarthy.com/music/index.html
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This CD, released in 1995 in the U.K. by Transatlantic and now picked up for U.S. release by Red House Records, reintroduces veteran singer-songwriter Ralph McTell to this country's folk music fans with a bang.

A mostly acoustic release, filled with introspective, relationship- examining, society-questioning songs, McTell provides grist for the mill for anyone who enjoys pondering and philosophizing over the "big" questions in and of life.

There are many standout songs contained here--my favorite being "Jesus Wept" which, when I first heard it on the radio, made me drop everything I was doing to listen to it. "Jesus Wept" relates the doubts, fears, and confusion of Jesus of Nazareth with some of the most incisive and heart-rendering lyrics ever written:

If you are lyric-oriented, this powerful song will stay with you for days as you re-read and re-play the lyrics and song, respectively. This is a worthy successor to McTell's most famous and eerily prescient song about homelessness, "Streets of London," released in the early 1970s.

The strongly ironic song, "The Enemy Within (The Band)," details the closing of numerous coal mines in the U.K., juxtaposed with local colliery (brass) bands appearing to make everything seem all right for the miners when, in fact, unemployment and the resulting loss of a generational way of life were the bleak future at hand:

"Peppers And Tomatoes," covering the racial and religious-inspired genocide in the former Yugoslavia (and certainly elsewhere), delves into the differences between peoples and the friendships that fail under pressure as blood (and safety) proves thicker than righteousness when it's time to choose sides. Good use of the electric guitar and drums provide a driving beat, adding to the intensity of the lyrics.

A bluesy, jazzy number, "Care In The Community," utilizes string bass, trumpet, sax, and clarinet to good effect. In the song, McTell points out that isolating oneself or taking steps to avoid the homeless and mentally ill doesn't mean the problems (and people) don't exist or that somebody else is taking care of these community issues.

In "Daddy's Whistling Home," McTell sounds like a crooner with a 1940s Big Band, detailing, in an ironic upbeat tempo, the difficult adjustments all veterans face upon returning home. McTell also puts to rest the often-repeated bromide that family life was so much more wonderful in that era. Just like nowadays, it all depend on which family you're talking about.

McTell also deals with the Nazi deportation of the Jews in World War 2 with "The Case Of Otto Schwarzkopf." The last three lines cry out with this plea:

"I Don't Think About You" is the one sore spot on this release for me. It's reminiscient of a Nashville country song and McTell even sings it with country-type twang. It just doesn't fit.

I do want to note that this is not a brooding, dark album, despite the subject matter covered. McTell's baritone voice works well with the different musical styles he utilizes on this CD, and the music and lyrics mesh well.

Track List:

All songs by Ralph McTell except: "The Islands" with music and lyrics by Ralph McTell and Maartin Allcock; and "The Case Of Otto Schwarzkopf" with lyrics from a poem by Schmuel Huppert (translated from the Hebrew by Neville Teller), adapted with additional lyrics by Ralph McTell and Maartin Alcock, and music by Ralph McTell and Maartin Allcock.

All songs published by Misty River Music Ltd.

This review was originally written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange (FAME).


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