Having bought the vinyl version Irish Reels Jigs Hornpipes and Airs (Kicking Mule SNKF 153) back in 1979, the opportunity has finally arrived to get many of the same tracks on this Shanachie CD. The Kicking Mule release has become a classic 'must have album' for aspiring solo fingerstyle guitarists, and I have no doubt that this CD compilation will follow suit.
It's nice to see that Shanchie have kept the spirit of Kicking Mule alive by offering a free TAB booklet to accompany this CD... just fill in the slip inside and send it off. The original TAB booklet with the vinyl version only notated a handful of songs, so I wouldn't expect all 16 tracks to be in the booklet.
Although most of the tracks on this compilation were available on the original Kicking Mule release there are some notable omissions, not least of all the absence of the amazing Davey Graham's arrangements. However the extra tracks afforded by the longer CD format are a welcome addition.
The aggressive 'slap' technique of Duck Baker standard tuning compliments Dave Evans's more fluid style in CGDGAD. Both use nylon string guitars as you would expect, while Dan Ar Bras approach is to use steel strings and a generally more technical style to add his own inimitable Breton flavour.
The term 'artist' is liberally used nowadays, but these guys are artists in the truest sense of the word. Every track is played with joyfulness, sadness, aggression, melancholy, but most of all with passion and a real understanding of the soul of Celtic music.
At nearly five minutes long, the languid 'Lament for Limerick' by Duck Baker is worth the admission fee alone. Sheebeg and Sheemore by Dave Evans is a classic solo fingerstyle tune that will have you reaching for your guitar before it's ended... and there's many more essential tracks.
This collection of tunes will appeal to acoustic guitarists and non-guitarists alike... an essential fingerstyle album. Buy it, you won't be dissapointed!