on 4 September 2012
The old saying `...died and gone to Heaven' really is the only way I can describe this re-release of Silly Wizard's performance recorded at The Sanders Theatre in Massachusetts, USA in 1983. Ah, the memories come flooding back as I relive my youth and the acoustic explosion that was Andy M Stewart (lead vocals/banjo), John & Phil Cunningham (fiddle & accordion respectively), Martin Hadden (bass) and Gordon Jones (guitar). Unfortunately I doubt we will ever see their like again as they were indeed one of a kind and for those of us that witnessed the band `live' we can count ourselves lucky that at least we were there when it happened. To have been lucky enough to bask in their company I know that everyone I talk to who remembers those days has so many anecdotes there would be enough to fill several books quite easily. Like the audience at this particular concert the choice of material including song-writer Stewart's "The Queen Of Argyle", "Golden Golden" and "The Ramblin' Rover" remain classics to this day and the humour, respect and interaction between the Cunningham Brothers comes to the fore in a truly astonishing set of seven reels that I doubt ever (in my lifetime at least) to witness again. This CD features fifteen tracks of unbelievable musicality and the warmth extended in return from the audience is a tangible experience you will rarely find anywhere else at anytime. I doubt anybody who knows me would blame me for waxing lyrical about a band that no longer exists but as long as we have recordings like this to remind us of "...the good old days" we can proudly boast we were there to witness it first hand. This is an album that not only comes highly recommended but should be an essential part of any `true' folk music enthusiast's collection. If you buy any album for nostalgia's sake this year it has to be this one! [...]
Originally saw this band in the mid-seventies, and loved their blend of fast-paced jigs & reels, softened by some exquisite ballads. I owned 'Golden, Golden' on vinyl, which forms half this cd, and didn't hesitate when I saw this was part of this live collection. If you love superb, deft instrumental musicianship linked to infectious jigs and reels, this is a wonderful album to discover. Similarly, if you're a lover of achingly beautiful ballads,passionately delivered by Andy M Stewart, this album delivers up some heartfelt examples, filled with yearning.
Lovely sound quality too: until the applause you'd think it was a studio recording. Hard to imagine that Phil Cunningham of the duo 'Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham', and performer/producer of 'Transatlantic Sessions', is one of the young 'wizards' on here. Truly sublime music-making.