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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic early Rea
This was actually one of the last Chris rea albums i got round to hearing but that doesn't make abit of difference. These songs are excellent. Stainsby girls , josephine and steel river are all on the new compilation of reas music if you're unsure.
Steel river is good- it gets better towards the end, and the piano part towards the jazzy bit at the end, is great...
Published on 7 Jan. 2003 by Mitch

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Joshepine
To be honest, I bought this album for the original version of "Josephine ", This song has been re-recorded several times. However my emotions felt on the original have never been surpassed. Same thing counts for "Fool ( if you think it's over )". After checking out the many compilation albums I finally found the original albums on CD. It took some years...
Published 18 months ago by George


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic early Rea, 7 Jan. 2003
This review is from: Shamrock Diaries (Audio CD)
This was actually one of the last Chris rea albums i got round to hearing but that doesn't make abit of difference. These songs are excellent. Stainsby girls , josephine and steel river are all on the new compilation of reas music if you're unsure.
Steel river is good- it gets better towards the end, and the piano part towards the jazzy bit at the end, is great!
Stainsby girls is another classic, and being a single from the album of course its good.
Chisel hill bears a certain relationship to Heaven from Auberge.
It grows on you.
Josephine and the title track are good , the opening of the latter sounding vaguely like a bon jovi song. The opening of josephine is fantastic.
All summer long ( nothing like the song of the same name on king of the beach )is particularly moving. Stone is good.
Hired gun is also poignant but at the same time inspiring. One golden rule, with its almost gospel backing vocals is good too.
Which juat leaves my favourite- Love turns to lies. This is one of reas best ever songs the saxophone part being really haunting, and the line ' whats that you say- you were going to
leave me anyway' is so moving.
Yes- buy this album!!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The making of Chris Rea as we know him today, 23 Nov. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Shamrock Diaries (Audio CD)
This was the first Chris Rea album that many people heard. Apart from Diamonds in the 70's he had gone unnoticed by many until the Springsteenesque Stainsby Girls entered the charts in the 80s. Shamrock diaries was a real development for Chris Rea, forming the basis of the style and structure which he has developed with such huge success over the past 2 decades. This album is a real forgotten gem, with absolutely no fillers whatsoever. You sense a relaxed nostalgia from the opening bars of Steel River to the powerful trademark guitar crescendo of hired gun. The gravelly voice, perfectly complemented by strong guitar chords are totally involving throughout. Apart from Stainsby Girl, standouts are Josephine, All Summer Long, Stone, and the title track itself. If you like Chris Rea, you will love this album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chris Rea Rocks On!, 1 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Shamrock Diaries (Audio CD)
1985 saw the release of what, for me, is still one of Chris Rea's best ever albums, `Shamrock Diaries'. This was Chris's seventh studio album and contains what are still some his very best songs. There is still a distinct amount of production here, especially in the second half of the album, but unlike on many previous occasions it feels far less forced, there's a much more natural chemistry between Chris and the music. Chris this time out is reunited with producer Dave Richard, with whom he enjoyed a great musical relationship on the album `Water Sign'.

The album opens with an absolute classic, `Steel River'. It's very much a story telling song of where Chris grew up and his roots and how the course of time has changed what once was there. It has wonderful emotion in it and musically is absolutely epic. It has a great balance to it which builds beautifully. At last we have some real Chris guitar but with a balance all round that makes this track a joy to listen to. What is amazing is that this was never a single!

So it's a good start then? Absolutely, however what comes next is, if anything, even better! `Stainsby Girls', and specifically this version of it, is quite possibly my favourite Chris Rea track ever, although it is a tough call. This track at least did get a single release. From the start, with that wonderful slightly underplayed guitar rhythm this song promises much, and it delivers in spades. From a relatively subtle beginning the track gradually builds in sound and instrumentation. It really kicks in at the end of the first chorus when the percussion kicks in for earnest and we are treated to some dazzling playing from Chris at his brilliant best. I defy anyone not to want to play either air guitar or air drum or both to this, it's just irresistible. Even Chris's vocals are never less than 100%. We have what feels like an obligatory bit of sax but that in no way detracts from the shear undiluted joy of the track. The thrilling conclusion is a fabulous crescendo of drum, guitar and anything else that can be thrown in. It is utterly brilliant and worth buying the album for on its own.

Unsurprisingly the third track can't possibly compete and so we have a change in direction with a ballad in the form of `Chisel Hill', which is apparently about a location that Chris knew in his younger days where romantic young sorts would chisel the names of their loves into the rocks. The tempo is much slower and guitar is far more understated, with more in the way of organ and soft tempo keyboard. It's a nice track and adds to the quality of the album, it kind of feels like a breather among some of the more energetic stuff here.

Fourth up is yet another classic Chris track which, like `Stainsby Girls' also saw a single release. It's a song named after Chris's first daughter, `Josephine'. Now this is where I have a bit of an issue with this album. `Josephine' is a terrific track, in any form and that really is the nub of the problem here. You see, the track featured on the CD is not the original album track. I can recall Chris once that when he made the transfer to digital recording an entire song got lost and my assumption is that `Josephine' was that track.

The version on the CD is sometimes referred to as the French re-record. It is still a great version with a wonderful baseline and ever present guitar riff back with some really nice synthesiser. That said though I do love the true original album version, which can still be found on the vinyl record. It has a wonderful bit of mandolin playing the main rhythm and is far more in keeping with the original album. The version on the CD does feel, well, almost too modern for the rest of it and is somewhat out of place. Saying all that it is still a great track but for anyone trying to find the original `Josephine' on either CD or download then good luck, because to the best of my knowledge it just does not exist!

Fifth on the album is `One Golden Rule'. Another ballad style song and one that features some impressive bass vocal from Chris! (This track also crops up as the `B' side to `Working On It' for anyone who is interested). A ballad it may be but it has plenty of musical balance to it and a great flow so don't be put off. This is still a real quality track that is a big plus to the album.

Track six originally opened the second side of the album, and it definitely feels like that. The approach feels quite different and much more produced. The track `All Summer Long' is yet another example of same title, different song, as far as Chris is concerned. This is in no way related to the track of the same name on `King of the Beach'. The track is very 80's. Plenty of drum machine sounding backing and synth, but maybe as not overdone as on `Water Sign'. There isn't quite the same edgyness or excitement of some of the earlier tracks but it is a nice enough song in itself. While it doesn't necessarily add a lot to the album it is in no way mediocre. That said it does sound somewhat choreographed. I hate to bang on about this as it seems to be a point that does come up in a lot of my reviews, but if you are a fan of Chris, and you do know his music, you will probably agree with what I have said anyway.

Track seven, `Stone', is a step up from the last song, there's a bit more guitar present and the drums sound less machine like this time out. Again it does have a very slick feel to it, with plenty of high end production. As before this does make it feel much more pop friendly, (not that that is necessarily bad), but maybe not quite so Chris Rea. It sounds like a song that would have been picked as a single by a record company but curiously never go a release.

Eighth on the album we have yet another Chris classic and one that really lifts the second part of the album, the eponymously titled `Shamrock Diaries'. Although there is once again some nice production and the obligatory sax, it is much less staid and much more Chris Rea. There isn't much in the way of Chris's trade mark guitar playing, in fact it is the sax that dominates and the piano which very much leads the flow of the track, but it is still a wonderful song and in this case the production probably does add something to really lift the song. As with most of the best songs on the album it builds really nicely, another top track from a top album.

The ninth and penultimate song on the album is called `Love turns to lies'. This really does have a big ballad production number to it. A story of heartbreak, the music is carefully choreographed and again gradually builds from a slightly minimal start. We do get some nice playing from Chris, but not a lot of big and showy stuff. Once again the sax features quite strongly, giving it a very 80's feel as does the arrangement of the synthesisers. It's a quality track for sure, but a Chris Rea classic, perhaps not.

The final track on the album is called `Hired Gun'. Now this really does feel like a huge effort has been put in to end the album with something of a power ballad crescendo. Again we have a relatively quiet start with the piano leading, some synth coming in and a few hint of Chris's guitar slowly creeping in. Like a lot of big 80's song almost the entire first version is done in this way before at the end everything gets going like a freight train bursting into your living room.

Everything comes to life with the guitar leading off. The drums, bass and organ kick in for earnest and lead the flow of the song from thence on. It keeps on like this, building with each verse, and once again we have the sax solo in the middle, a musical break if you will. As with many of the songs of this era we have a kind of pause before the end, where everything drops away and the song is carried predominantly by Chris's vocals, with most of the instrumentation becoming somewhat muted and everything calming momentarily, before the freight train re-enters the room and everything is thrown into the mix for a really big finish. By rights and the sound of it, it should have a similar impact to `Steel River'. Certainly there's plenty of Chris guitar at the end and a lot of volume. We even finish with the mandatory bit of sax, but it just slightly lacks real punch. I do actually quite like track, mostly for the big finish, but it lacks an indefinable something, some sort of magic I can't put my finger on.

In summary this is probably one of Chris's best albums since `Tennis'. It certainly has tracks on it that are so great the beat just about anything on `Tennis'. However, as an overall package does it have the edge? That's a much harder question to answer. While I like everything on `Tennis' and `Shamrock Diaries' if I scored each track individually and gave them and overall average I may just give `Tennis' the edge, but it would be an extremely close call!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top quality - a Top 3 Rea album...., 8 July 2005
By 
J. Pettitt - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Shamrock Diaries (Audio CD)
Superb, each tracks evokes much emotion and heartache about his "old" town and life.
The classic's "Steel River" & "Stainsby girls" are the highlights but the whole album is top notch and even these tracks are best heard as part of whole album.
A quality CD, buy it - You will not be let down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Golden Rule, 6 Feb. 2013
By 
Mister D (The Royal County) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Shamrock Diaries (Audio CD)
This was the album that introduced me to the work of Chris Rea and is still one of my all-time favourites.

I think all of the songs are of the highest calibre and highlights include Hired Gun, Stainsby Girls, Love Turns to Lies and Stone.
Even the weaker tracks on the album - Josephine (more about that later) and Chisel Hill are excelent.

For those who have a greatest hits package and wish to investigate his back catalogue, this album is a good place to start. Also check out Tennis, On the Beach and Deltics.

If you are replacing a worn-out LP, the version of "Josephine" on the CD may be different. This will depend on whether the vinyl version is the original Magnet pressing (MAGL 5062) or the later WEA version(UK:WX 190 / 242 374-1). The CD uses the mix included on the WEA pressing which is fine and does not detract from the album. When this CD is finally re-issued/remastered, it would be nice if both versions were included.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only Chris Rea album you should own !, 22 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Shamrock Diaries (Audio CD)
A friend was looking through my C.D's, stopped and laughs because I had a Chris Rea Album ! ... So I challenged him to listen to it !
... After a week listening to it in his car he bought it !!! ... This is an excellent album from an era before commercialism got to Mr. Rea and all the Road to Hell rubbish !
Some great mellow songs, `Stone' being my favourite. Musically excellent and great on a good music system, difficult to compare to anything but I guess a bit Alan Parsons Project-ish in places ... So even if you hate Chris Rea, like my friend, this C.D. should deffinately be in your collection (and it's up to you if you buy any of his other C.D's ! ... I never have !)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Shamrock vs Brothers, 21 July 2011
By 
wolfers "bluesman" (uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Shamrock Diaries (Audio CD)
i always remember this album coming out around the same time as Dire Straits Brothers In Arms and time has not changed my opinion in that Shamrock is a far better album than Arms.I note one review stating that Shamrock is/was too commercial?Come on...is not the VERY reason that Brothers is a recognised classic?Dont get me wrong i do own Brothers and it does merit its status.,BUT so does Shamrock.And track by track is way ahead of Brothers.Just listen to Stainsby Girls.Josephine.One Golden Rule.Chisel Hill.Steel River and Hired Gun then the remaining tracks.Then play Brothers and tell me im right.Shamrock is an oft overlooked classic which was overshadowed by the very commercialness of Brothers which in itself is a pail shadow of Straits debut album.AND when are we going to see a remaster of Shamrock.Wired To The Moon.On The Beach and Dancing With Strangers from Rhino Records.Would love to hear those esp.with some bonus b.sides and the sax mix of Stainsby/orig.version of Josephine which is NOT the version you will you will hear on the cd of this album.To hear it you need the original VINYL release of SD.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of Chris Rea., 3 Jan. 2012
By 
Snaggletooth (Belfast, Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Shamrock Diaries (Audio CD)
To me, Shamrock Diaries was the pinnacle of Chris Reas career. Many casual listeners will already know Stainsby Girls and Josephine from the multitude of "Best of" collections but this CD stands as good as any of those with several tracks many will not have heard. I cant describe how full of emotion this album is. To me, it holds a lot of nostalgia for a time long gone, but each song (even without those memories) still stands as a melodic masterpiece. In the past years I feel Chris changed direction way too much to hold on to many of us who loved his 80s stuff. I guess artists must evolve of course, but if you listen to his material from the 80s it just seems so much more accessible and enjoyable than what came in the 90s and beyond (though I did like Julia and Driving home for Xmas). Anyway, Shamrock Diaries purrs perfection. There isnt one filler track on it IMO. And for me, this is the true "Best Of".
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3.0 out of 5 stars Joshepine, 21 Oct. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Shamrock Diaries (Audio CD)
To be honest, I bought this album for the original version of "Josephine ", This song has been re-recorded several times. However my emotions felt on the original have never been surpassed. Same thing counts for "Fool ( if you think it's over )". After checking out the many compilation albums I finally found the original albums on CD. It took some years for the record company to re-print it. As for me, I bought both albums second hand, so it's the original master which I love. We all know about the re-masters with destroyed dynamics because of the pumped up volume, leaving an cold sound. I don't know if thats the case with these two...but I decided to spend my money only once. All because it's these two songs which really touch me. Oh, and euhm..yes he's made some other good songs which I won't discuss because I'm not a fan of Chris's whole oefre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful collection of songs, 26 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Shamrock Diaries (Audio CD)
Yes, this was my first Chris Rea album, and although I bought many more I never found one that held together in the same way. Every song is a beautifully crafted example of what a songwriter at the top of his game can achieve. The album sounds as fresh now as on its release, there is a depth of emotion, tunes that hook you and lyrics that dig deep. Yes, you can have it on in the background but listen to it and the quality of the songs makes this stand out as an exceptional album. The cd is also very well mastered so that it has a clarity and presence that is also impressive. This is in my top 5 albums, bought on a whim, and enjoyed more times than I care to remember.
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Shamrock Diaries by Chris Rea (Audio CD - 1988)
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