This album first appeared in 1976 - prog rock was at it's most pretentious, the first stirrings of punk were registering in the UK music press. And this album by a pair of Canadian sisters appeared out of the blue. One had been married to Loudon Wainwright and their stuff had been covered by Maria Mulduar and Linda Rondstadt - but hey, not a lot of street cred in that at the time in the commuter towns to the north west of London!
There was a cracking review of this album in ZigZag magazine - so, as a 17 year old, I bought it. I can remember playing it at school (probably in between others who were into Gong or Eddie and the Hot Rods (it was that kind of year - you could watch the Clash one week and Stackridge the next!) - and can remember the stunned silence. People who would shortly be clad in bondage trousers and safety pins and others wearing tea-cosy hats and kaftans united in listening to banjo, fiddle and accordion music - and those stunning harmonies.
Thirty years on, this remains one of the best debut recordings ever. The simplicity and authenticity of the production by Joe Boyd focus attention on the songs which are quite simply awesome: Heart Like a Wheel and Talk to Me of Mendocino are definitive versions while Kiss and say Goodbye and Go Leave are warm,humane, touching and emotionally direct.
Even the covers of the traditional Travellin' on for Jesus and Wainwright's Swimming Song are better than many artists achieve in their whole career.
I have yet to meet anyone who's listened to this album and found it anything other than great! The McGarrigles have never appeared to take the blindest bit of notice of musical fashion - and this attitude has clearly set up kate's kids Martha and Rufus to have musical wisdom beyond their years!
You will not regret owning this album of songs!