A Review of the Mick Ryan & Pete Harris CD
"Something To Show"

"Something To Show"
by Mick Ryan & Pete Harris

(WildGoose Studios: WGS 318 CD)
Copyright: WildGoose Studios 2004

This review was originally written by Dai Woosnam, daigress@hotmail.com, 8/04

Just typing out the names of the two artistes, got me thinking of Lennon & McCartney. (Eh? Surely I am not suggesting that the Mersey Beat has now a Wessex Beat equivalent? Indeed I am not.)

No, I think of those two illustrious names only insofar as I am reminded of the recent point ­ attributed rightly or wrongly to Heather Mills-McCartney ­ that some of the songs should be shown as ”McCartney & Lennon”, in order to illustrate that Sir Paul had made the greater contribution in the writing of that particular song.

And the thought occurred to me that maybe the next Ryan & Harris album should bear their names in reverse. Not that there is any doubt that Mick is the driving force behind their albums, but it would at least give Pete his proper alphabetic precedence, and just this once it would be no more than he deserves. For “Harris & Ryan” would formally acknowledge the vital role he plays in arranging traditional ballads, and indeed many of Mick's songs. And it would testify to the importance of his dazzling talent as a multi-instrumentalist and his pitch perfect vocal harmonies.

Without him, Mick would struggle to get a replacement of the same quality: indeed, I doubt if he would ever find a partner whose voice harmonises with his quite so effectively.

If Pete was to leave him, Mick would soon know how Captain Scott felt when Oates and the whisky ran out.

And my mentioning Lennon & McCartney makes me think that there is another parallel: the Beatles never presented us with a bad (or even indifferent) album: and neither have these guys. This is their fifth CD together, and every bit as good as anything in their back catalogue.

I like most of the stuff a lot. The sound is gloriously full: not least because the guys are joined on this album by Paul Burgess on fiddle, Paul Sartin on oboe, and Tim van Eyken on melodeon. (Yes, even Pete cannot play everything!)

The stirring opening track “The Ballad Seller” sets out their stall: straight away the newcomer to their work is made aware that this is a duo who can not only write a song that is gloriously redolent of the finest Traditional Ballad, (but at the same time always staying ORIGINAL), but also can deliver a song like they really mean business.

The songs on this CD are mainly written by Mick, or are otherwise from the Tradition. But there are a couple of additions: one of them being “The Last of England”, a fine song by Mick's one-time collaborator, Graham Moore. It is the kind of song that is reminiscent of the quality that Peter Bellamy achieved in writing his songs of forced emigration for “The Transports”.

And talking of songs good enough to be included on others' albums, then I have to say that two stood out. “Work, Work, When It's Gonna Stop?” is delivered with real brio: it was a performance worthy of that much lamented duo Cosmotheka. Had both Sealey brothers been alive, trust me, they could not have improved on Mick & Pete's timing.

And then we have the title song: its content brings to mind Ralph McTell's “From Clare to Here”, but “Something to Show” has I reckon an even better chorus. And that's praise indeed.

Buy it in the UK from Proper Music Distribution www.proper.uk.com
Buy it in Europe from www.musikfolk.com
Buy it in North America from www.elderly.com

Dai Woosnam
Grimsby, England

Track List: All songs by “Mick Ryan, arr Harris”, if not shown otherwise.

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