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Pete Fyfe

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While Mortals Sleep
While Mortals Sleep
Offered by Pure Records
Price: £10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars KATE RUSBY - While Mortals Sleep, 7 Jun. 2012
This review is from: While Mortals Sleep (Audio CD)
Avoiding the cliché of echoing the ending of each line of "Cranbrook" ("While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night") set to its original melody and pinched by Yorkshire for the setting of "On Ilkley Moor Baht'at" this jaunty start to Kate's second seasonal offering proves a joyous bundle of fun. Joined by the Brass Quintet Boys ensemble this proves a judicious addition to Rusby's band featuring Damien O'Kane (guitar), Ed Boyd (bouzouki), Julian Sutton (diatonic accordion) and Kevin McGuire/Duncan Lyall (double bass). To be perfectly honest the collaboration of brass arrangements coupled with a `folk music' background creates such a feel-good factor that I'm surprised Simon Cowell hasn't cashed in on it. With its mixture of traditional ("Little Town Of Bethlehem"), contemporary ("Kris Kringle") and Kate's evocative "Home" there isn't a duff track here. All right, so everyone by now must know how popular Christmas is for me musically speaking with over 100 albums and counting and so it proves with a majority of not only performers but their audiences as well. Along with my James Taylor `At Christmas' and The Spinners `Sing Out, Shout With Joy' recordings this is by far and above the best representation of any seasonal offering I have the pleasure to own and goes without saying that you should purchase a copy to put yourself in a good mood whatever time of year you play it. A 100% (Christmas) cracker!

PETE FYFE


Well Dressed
Well Dressed
Price: £13.64

4.0 out of 5 stars KEITH KENDRICK & SYLVIA NEEDHAM - Well Dressed, 7 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Well Dressed (Audio CD)
I count myself very lucky to work on occasions with Keith Kendrick & Sylvia Needham as members of the music `crew' providing entertainment onboard HMS Warrior, Portsmouth. Many's the times we've shared a good joke together whilst either singing or playing in an informal session and that comes across in this more than pleasurable recording. Both fine singers, Keith and Sylvia prove just as adept at accapella as they are in accompanying themselves in company with, amongst others Jon Loomes (hurdy gurdy, fiddle and piano), Johnny Adams (various instruments and vocals) and Gilly Loomes on cornet and hammered dulcimer. The duo's repertoire of predominantly traditional arranged British songs including "Banks Of The Nile", "The Riddle Song/Lovers' Tasks" and a stirring, if somewhat unusual setting of the shanties "One More Day/Shallow Brown" courtesy of John Short establishes their credentials as purveyors of that distinctive `folk' culture that we from these islands should all be proud of. The inclusion of a jolly rumpy-pumpy concertina led set of tunes "Blue-Eyed Stranger/Joe Pea's" evokes memories of Keith's days spent with the much missed band Ram's Bottom and should prove a popular addition to English session players everywhere. Yet another fine album from the Wildgoose stable.

PETE FYFE


Dancing of the Light
Dancing of the Light
Price: £27.51

4.0 out of 5 stars LITHA - Dancing Of The Light, 7 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Dancing of the Light (Audio CD)
A few years ago I had the pleasure of reviewing the 2Duos outstanding debut CD. Since then they've changed their name to Litha but whatever title they choose, this certainly is a 4-piece more than capable of carving out their own unique slice of Celtic `folk' history given half a chance. Diving straight in with a powerful set-up of guitar `chops' and a swooping riff on the fiddle it opens the album with a bang on Tim O'Leary's song "Blind George". The vocals are delivered with passion by Aaron Jones but minus the heavy Scottish bur (think Dougie MacLean rather than Dick Gaughan) often associated with a majority of bands of this genre and, in my opinion are all the better for it. The captivating tonal qualities of Germany's Gudrun Walther provides a wonderful juxtaposition within the band in much the same way that brother and sister Micheal & Triona O'Domhnaill did in the Bothy Band and like `The Bothys' debut album this really is an exciting prospect. As if to cement the deal check out "Rosie's Reels" where all four members including Claire Mann's driving fiddle and Jurgen Treyz rhythmical guitar accompaniment really prove their mettle as inspired instrumentalists. The group's choice of songs by Suzanne Vega and Karine Polwart's Radio 2 friendly "Waterlily" will be forever immortalised like a stamp through a stick of Brighton rock and all members are to be complimented for their `arty' but consumer friendly approach to their music. By the way trivia fans...for those wondering where they've heard the tune `New Claret' at the end of the `Flying Dairymaids' it's the elusive title of the tune Fairport couldn't find in their "Flatback Caper" set on the Full House album.

PETE FYFE


Picnic
Picnic
Price: £13.43

4.0 out of 5 stars THE HUT PEOPLE - Picnic, 7 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Picnic (Audio CD)
So, here it is a welcome return to my favourite drum and squeezebox duo. Mind you, to my knowledge I don't think there are any others I've missed? Starting with a sprightly "Shoes In Black" (good choice of tune lads) with its loaded syncopation and spot-on triplets played at a speed that's just right to learn from and then into a waltz version of the melody is an utter joy. And that as they say is just for starters. If you haven't yet heard Sam Pirt & Gary Hammond then I suggest you do so...Now! Here we have two guys who know how to convey all that is good about `folk' music with a cacophony of sound so wonderful it'll enthuse you all to dance from the rooftops like escapee chimney sweeps from a Disney movie...Gawd bless you it will. Of course the choice of tunes is not all up-tempo and the selective option of any number of Gary's arsenal of percussion at his disposal adds a descriptive colour wash to the palate of jigs, reels, slow airs and bourree's that blossom forth from the digital dexterity of Sam's fingertips. I've been reviewing some truly incredible albums by folk artists recently but none that bring an automatic beaming smile and sense of joy as this recording. Unlike the title would suggest, this is not so much a `picnic' as a full blown banquet. Paul Adams at Fellside has (for me at least) once again made a major discovery and as soon as we can point them in the right direction the great British public should be made aware of this personable duo. Come on Jools (or at least your producers)...the gauntlet has been thrown down. I urge everyone out there to purchase a copy of the CD and then insist that your local folk club or festival book them...they really are that good!

PETE FYFE


Old Chairs To Mend
Old Chairs To Mend
Price: £13.43

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars DAVID GIBB & ELLY LUCAS - Old Chairs To Mend, 7 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Old Chairs To Mend (Audio CD)
I'm not a great one for reading sleeve notes as I'd far rather make up my own mind how I feel about certain tracks but in this case I'll make an exception at least for the Radio 2 friendly "Blacksmith". There are so many interpretations of this particular song that I've lost count but for someone to do something different with it is always worth a mention. This `soul' version utilising a gently picked guitar from Gibb underpinned by a wrist slapping rhythm and the cooing vocals of Lucas really gets under the skin of the lyrics. As if to counter the subtlety of "Blacksmith" the duo appear intent on rushing a majority of the songs including "Sam Hall" and an at times uncomfortably too high pitched opening track "Man On The Road" where you're left crossing your fingers that David will reach that top note a bit like the proverbial pub singer going for a car-crash chorus of "Danny Boy". Hopefully I won't come across as being too uncharitable...after all it is the duo's debut recording...but unfortunately the album leaves me with mixed emotions and a bit like landing up with the bobbly sweet from a bag of Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts I personally feel you won't enjoy it all.

PETE FYFE


The Poison Glen - Gleann Nimhe
The Poison Glen - Gleann Nimhe
Price: £12.02

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ALTAN - The Poison Glen, 7 Jun. 2012
There's something reassuring about coming across a lyric or melody that you're used to hearing even if it's not in your native tongue. Such is the case with the track "Seolta Geala" and in as much as I've come to associate it with the gustily delivered shanty "Rio Grande" I stand to be corrected as I can't confirm the lyrics having extensively trawled the net. I've often said before that even if I can't understand a word of Gaelic it is how it's presented that leaves me hot or cold depending on whose interpretation I'm listening to. When it's in the more than capable hands of Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh and fellow band members Ciaran Curran, Ciaran Tourish, Daithi Sproule, Mark Kelly and Dermot Byrne I think you can safely assume everything is right with the world particularly after twenty-five years of the band performing together. Whether it's the straight forward `no frills' approach they take with their instrumental set-pieces including established favourites "A Fig For A Kiss" or the uncommonly slow arrangement of "The Wheels Of The World" this recording may possibly prove somewhat pedestrian for the general public (and even some `folk' audiences) but personally I've come to enjoy the more laid-back approach in the twilight of my years...or is that a case of me being ageist? This recording may not perhaps be a rip-snorting blaze of pyrotechnics but if you're looking for something deliciously Celtic to sit alongside your Ed Sheeran CD you'll doubtless enjoy this release.

PETE FYFE


Pwnco
Pwnco
Price: £15.15

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ALLAN YN Y FAN - Pwnco, 7 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Pwnco (Audio CD)
Medieval...that's how I'd describe the music of the Welsh band Allan Yn Y Fan on hearing the first track "Death In Ennis/The Audient" of their latest CD. Not in an arcane way but, if you get my drift it's the kind of music that you'd expect at a banquet with serving wenches and portly bearded gentry stuffing their faces with chicken drum sticks and the like...not unlike an evening at Fyfe Mansions then? It's perhaps not the kind of music I'd generally listen to even with the Bellowhead-ish (with additional brass) "Miniwet Dinbych" but the musicians do make a good fist of it. A brief resume of the utilised instrumentation including guitar, fiddle, accordion, mandolin, flute and recorder offers a guide to what to expect performed in a laid-back, `session' kind of way. With the addition of everyone's vocals (Geoff Cripps, Meriel Field, Chris Jones, Linda Simmonds and Kate Strudwick) this is the kind of recording that throws up occasional gems and one of these is "Twinkle Twinkle (Little Star)" with its unusual setting to a melody by G C Westcott. This is a nicely judged and delivered lullaby that I can imagine would not only go down well with under five's but also a lot of `folk' audiences. Perhaps "Pwnco" won't move mountains but it is none the less a nice recording.

PETE FYFE


Savages
Savages
Price: £9.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE WEBB SISTERS - Savages, 7 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Savages (Audio CD)
"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!"...so said Sir Walter Scott. And indeed, the web that sisters Charley and Hattie use to spread their wordy songs can indeed tangle their audience in knots but in such a refreshing way that we can easily dismiss any minor transgressions. Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon the opening track "Baroque Thoughts" with its harp and vocal sounds as if it was lifted straight from a Kate Bush track (although I can't quite put my finger on it as to which one it was) and emerges delicately to flutter away without a care in the world. This is `proper' grown up music and under the watchful eye of producer Peter Asher it has to be said it will more than likely wind up being my album of the year. OK, I know I can get caught up in the beauty of it all but the combination of engrossing lyrics wrapped tastefully in strategically placed musical arrangements I defy anyone not to get emotionally involved. Crossing genres into the `country' flavoured "Burn" broadens the girls appeal even further and as for using the introduction by "Mr Thirty-Stories" himself (Leonard Cohen) on the girls cover of "If It Be Your Will" is a master stroke. By the way, that little transgression I mentioned...why do you have to come across as being all "Essex" when you're obviously not (they're in fact from Kent) if you get my drift? In many ways the lyrics wind up sounding somewhat sleazy or at best a little `cheap' and I suppose if that's your thing, trying to be like Lily Allen might be a marketing man's dream but could well bite you on the bum further down the line. That aside, this really is an outstanding recording and should be high on your list of `must haves'.

PETE FYFE


Monongah
Monongah
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £16.56

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars KYLE CAREY - Monongah, 7 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Monongah (Audio CD)
A bit like President Obama I feel that Ms Carey is a `nice' person. It's not that I know her personally of course but judging her on the merits of this album I feel that all is right with the world. This could also have something to do with the fact that Lunasa's Donogh Hennessy is sitting in the producer's chair and in company with a guest list of musicians including Trevor Hutchinson (Bass), Aoife Clancy (harmony vocals), Neil Fitzgibbon (string driven things) and the crisply tuneful glissando mandolin of John Kirk this album really is something of a gem. If I said that the recording should be played relentlessly on BBC Radio 2 then I hope that there are enough producers out there to take note to steer the album in the direction of Mike Harding and Aled Jones etc. A much seasoned traveller Kyle's Appalachian/Scots influenced songs have an organic `feel' that is delivered in a laid-back way that would do justice to any recent recording by Dolly Parton...minus the `howdee' drawl if you'll excuse me being so presumptuous. Intriguing subject matter often inspired by poems from the pens of authors such as Louise McNeill (RIP) who unknowingly contributed to the title track and "Devil At Your Back" would I'm sure be proud to be represented in such a way. The final track "Reprise" proved a little unsettling for me (in a good way) in that it opens with a stark fiddle `Civil War' type slow air (think Clint Eastwood in the film "Beguiled" or a soundtrack not dissimilar to the movie "Ravenous") and, after a monumental pause of 57 seconds (and yes, I did time it!) before the final song (a reprise of "Adenine") is more than worth while waiting for. Like discovered treasure you'll find this a rewarding experience.

PETE FYFE


Colourblind
Colourblind
Price: £13.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DUNCAN McCRONE - Colourblind, 7 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Colourblind (Audio CD)
This CD had remained on my `to do' list for quite a while so I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to Duncan for the lateness in the review's eventual arrival...and also to PR man Bob Buchan for reminding me to check it out. Opening with the bright and breezy "Days Like Today" with its Bluebells "Young At Heart" country `feel' (particularly thanks to the swooping fiddle of Chris Stout's fiddle) it's obvious that McCrone has a happy, optimistic outlook on life. Surely this track alone should be worth National Radio play (is anyone at BBC Radio 2 listening?) although knowing the industry's foibles it will more than likely fall through the cracks. Judging by the songs included on the album he has taken the time to craft each track with the help of some fine musicians including the afore mentioned Stout, his songwriting partner Cy Jack (bass), Stevie Lawrence (most things stringed), Finlay MacDonald (highland pipes) and Lindisfarne's drummer Ray Laidlaw. For soft Southerner's like me, you might be interested that Mr McCrone has included the song "Baltic Street" by Carol Prior of Carol & Alan Prior fame and obviously shows discerning choice as he also includes the wistful "Ae Fond Kiss" by Robert Burns for good measure. This is the kind of album that you will put on and think why haven't I heard more of this fine singer? Established I presume in his native Scotland, Duncan really should be more widely acknowledged as a performer of great merit by a discerning audience (which I know you are) and I suggest you buy this recording as proof. You won't be disappointed.

PETE FYFE


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