I Nollaig Casey and Artie McClynn: Causeway (Tara) The acclaimed duo return to Scotland in a couple of months for the lidinburgh l‘olk l-‘estival. and though this album has beautiful performances by half—a-do‘xen of their musician friends. including harmonica virtuoso Brendan Power. it's the essential quality of Nollaig‘s fiddle and vocals. and .-\rtie’s guitar that makes this one of the great lrish albums of the last year or so. The musicianship can‘t be faulted. and although the style metauiorphoses between exquisite ancient songs in lrish (iaelic. wildly harmonised traditional fiddle tunes. cowboy swing l-‘ender Telecaster in ‘Jack l’alance's Reef and languorous. laid back fiddle and steel guitar on '(‘omanche Moon’. it's all done in. honestly. the best possible litsie.
I Liam O’ Flynn: The Given Note (Tara) The master uillcan piper can give lessons to anyone. including l)avey Spillane. on phrasing and pace. but won‘t be able to impart that mysterious quality that infuses a musician‘s performance when they have soaked tip their native tradition. Remembered in a sparkling arrangement from an early l’lanxty album. ‘()'l‘arrell‘s Welcome to Limerick' is one ofthe ‘big iigs’ 'llltl is taken here at an ambulant tempo. digging a deep groove in a great arrangement with bass. guitar. keyboards. drums and percussion. The slow air ‘C‘ailin na Gruaige Doinne’. with Sean Keane's crying fiddle. is heart-stopping. Galicia's Milladoiro are represented in the guest list. as is. unfortunately. Paul Brady. who strikes the. only false note in an otherwise superb album with an onanistic version of ‘The Rocks of Bawn'.
I Various Artists: The Complete Songs of Robert Burns Vol 1 (Linn) In this bicentenary year of the death of Scotland's national poet. and one of the world‘s greatest songwriters. Linn Records issues the first of a mammoth series of recordings in which the songs are performed by leading performers in a contemporary folk style. or to he more accurate. in the styles of the last two decades. No drum kits. no bass guitars. but simple. and generally very affecting settings of the whole of the bard's canon. Rod Paterson. Janet Russell. Christine Kydd. Billy Ross. Tony Cuffe. [an Benzie and Alan Reid
share the vocal honours. i in company with some 1 well respected i instrumentalists from the top Scots hands. in this first collection of 33 songs. j I Tony MacManus: Tony 5 MacManus (Creentrax) A l great album of brilliant acoustic guitar playing in a celtic nouveaux context by the energetic young l’aislcy guitarist now resident on the road between gigs. tours and recording sessions. ()n this ‘solo' album. which means that you’ll always hear the guitar. even with .\like 'l’ravis‘s drttms. l’atsy Seddon‘s harp. Rebecca Knorrs flute. Brian .‘ylacNeill's fiddle
and Jim Sutherland‘s
bodhran. MacManus‘s digits t'oye llt‘c‘lly and freely over the celtic
kingdoms of Brittany.
Scotland. and Ireland before concluding with a candlelit setting of ‘What a Wonderful World'.
I Sine E: Sin E (Rhiannon) Absorbing. adventurous London-
based lrish fusion led by
uillean piper and bodhran player Steaphan llannigan. with high- density beats from the astonishingly varied percussionist Ansuman Biswas. who had jaws dropping at last year's lidinburgh liestiyal Cafe (iraffiti. All lirin's traditional instruments are here. pltis off-the wall \ocal arrangements. superb low whistle from guest lirancie Mcllduff;
bells. in rhythms from raga to reggae.
I Stockton’s Wing: Letting Go (Tara) Previously it was Bill (Riverdance) Whelan. now it‘s Sean (Brendan Voyage) Davey in the producer's chair. but Stockton's Wing are still. in Scotland. one of the best unknown lrish bands. Perhaps it's the mix of high-flying traditional instrumental accomplishment and glossy country rock songs: liamon Mclilholm wins awards for his writing. he has a line voice. but Seamus Heaney he is not; it's the instrumental interjections and tracks that exhibit the most imaginative music on the album. the four
and sax. synth. and temple
Old Blind Oogs: ‘treshness, energy and occasional dodgy intonation’
band members being augmented by the cream of Ireland's session men. including Steve (‘ooney. Rod .'\ic\'ey and Noel liccles on Hammond organ. guitars. drums. bass and percussion. with Brendan Begley's quicksilver accordion. A beautiful studio production. and well worth listening to in spite of those songs. I Old Blind Oogs: Legacy (Lochshore) Nothing new here; the songs have all been recorded by other artists. from ballads like the ‘Bonny liar] ()‘ Murray”. and guid Scots sangs like the ‘Birken Tree‘ and "Tibbie liowlet' o' 1ch Glen. to Dylan‘s 'Ballad of llollis Brow 11'. Some fare better than others from the Dog's attentions: lead singer Ben/ie has a rich. persuasive voice. bill it is often under siege from the arrangements. especially the ubiquitous percussion which has lost much of its tonal subtlety in the studio process. The instrumentals have a freshness and energy. choice tunes and occasional dodgy intonation. more representative of the very popular live band that the Dogs have become. in the ever—extending territory round their North liastern lair. I The Rowan Tree Company: Echoes from a Tower (Yarrow) This celebration of James llogg and his beloved Border country. on the 150th anniversary of the writer's death. sets his songs. some not at all well known. in fine. creative and often quite complex arrangement. for fiddle. viola. inantlora. guitar. and occasional flute. synth and percussion. by the gifted l.ucy (‘ow an and Alison Bell. John Nichol has a convincing vocal style in song and narrative. but unfortunately Bell's acComplishcd vocal abilities would be better suited to an ambience more operatic than bucolic. and Judy Steel's half dozen song poems about the restoration of her (and Hogg‘s) beloved Aikw'ood Tower are dull and somewhat self-
I Yoko Ono/IMA: Rising (Capitol) There's a thin line between the banal and the profound. and Yoko ()iio has been reporting back from it for the past quarter of a century. Rhine. largely inspired by the fiftieth anniversary of Hiroshima and ()no's childhood Itiettlot'tes of Japan. crosses from one side to the other with alarming frequency. So. despite a certain Bjorkis‘h hlayfulness to ‘.'\.\k The Dragon‘. there are few laughs to be had here. Like listening to someone else's dreams. her Zen. like lyrics and wordless vocalising are probably a lot more interesting and meaningful to her than anyone else. and ll all gets too much on the fourteen
HO L COLE
Yoko Ono: childhood memories
minute title track. l.\l.-\. her son Sean‘s band.
pl'o\ ltlL‘ sympathetic backing perhaps through some familial telepathy. ‘\\'rapping.' she instructs them with a gentle crispness at the close of ‘Kurushi'. more like a meditation instructor than a band leader. Which. perhaps. she always was. (Alastair Mabbottl
I Moby: Everything Is Wrong DJ Mix Album (Mute) Moby"s latest
album sees one of
techno‘s odder creatures
repossessng the work he
released last year and
taking it back into the studio to be morphed and restructured by himself plus the guest talents of Westbam. Josh \Vink and 1)] Seduction. llis continuous two mix segues techno with cheesy euro beats. hard house and
jungle and (X‘CilSltlliilllV’ sees the Moby man I becoming overly self- indulgent. The double Cl) could easily have been edited down to a single album release and individual tracks are relatively insipid btit the gestalt is an interesting mix of colour. tone and shade. Listen to the album as a whole and you understand what Moby is attempting. (Rory Weller) I Lambcltop: How I Ouit Smoking (City Slang) Ambient country. anyone? All the way from Nashville, Tennessee comes this magnificent cycle of slow, highly- orchestrated songs which make effective use of steel guitar and lush strings. Twelve musicians are credited on the album, including some guy who only got to play the open- ended wrench and lacquer-thinner can! It's fair to assume that mainman Wagner is something of an eccentric. and some of his songs reminded me of those oddball musos They Might Be Giants. Wagner has a half-spoken style of singing but his voice is as restful as a bedtime story. If Palace Brothers are indie-country's Hank Williams. Lambchop could be its Glen Campbell. Damn ﬁne. (Eddie Gibb)
"An intriguing album of Tom Waits songs from modern day diva of pop music,
The Holly Cole Trio was a triumph just waiting to happen. It's happened." MOJO
Imaginative, amusing, provocative, spellbinding, sometimes dangerous v & never, never dull.
SEE HER LIVE!
February 3, Bel Angele, Edinburgh
The List 26 Jan-8 Feb I996 41