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Rags, Reels & Airs

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, 18 Jun 2007
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Product details

  • Audio CD (18 Jun. 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Topic
  • ASIN: B00001NFGQ
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 46,514 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Spanish Ladies Medley
  2. Hens March To The Middens
  3. Bottom Of The Punchbowl; The Swallow Tail; Marquis Of Tullybardine
  4. Barley Brallaghan; The New Widow Well Married; Paddy Be Aisy
  5. Dill Pickles Rag
  6. Gurty’s Frolics
  7. The Blackbird
  8. The Cuckoo’s Nest
  9. Lietrum Fancy Melody
  10. Porcupine Rag
  11. Villafjord
  12. Fourposter Bed
  13. Staten Island; Jimmy Allen
  14. The Salamanca Medley
  15. The Teetotallers Medley
  16. Lord Mayo
  17. The Kid On The Mountain
  18. Jolly Tinker; Rags & Tatters
  19. Father Kelly; Skopje; Sligo Maid

Product description

Product Description

Originally released in 1967, this album was immediately recognised as being a recording landmark revered by generations of instrumentalists. It went out of print soon after its release only becoming available again in 1999 when Topic Records released a restored and remastered CD version to great critical praise and substantial sales. The album was produced by the legendary American Joe Boyd. Swarbrick came to prominence on the folk scene as a young instrumental virtuoso in the Ian Campbell Folk Group. By 1967 Dave had already left them and had teamed up with Martin Carthy as a duo. In this all-instrumental album the focus was on Dave and it really gave him a chance to stretch out and demonstrate his remarkable instrumental prowess, The result was a new era of English instrumental folk and a new approach to folk music altogether. As Joe Boyd says in the original liner notes, reproduced in the CD booklet, "Dave Swarbrick is doing perhaps the finest job of reconciling traditional instrumental styles with modern ideas and technique." This is still true almost 40 years later.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Let me say at the outset that I am an unashamed fan of this genre. I am also looking at it from the point of view of how accessible is it to learning the tunes. Taking that as a given I think that this is an outstanding album with Swarbrick, Carthy and Disley showcased at a particularly creative period in their career.

The tunes have a musicality that in later years was occasionally sacrificed for speed. There is a delightful humour and lightness about Swarb's playing. Listen to 'Dill Pickles' and 'Bottom of the Punchbowl Medley'.

I had this on vinyl when it first came out and at some point my copy was 'borrowed'. I hadn't heard the album for over thirty years and couldn't believe how fresh it all sounded. True it's in mono but that is no real drawback.

If you are a student of folk instrumentals the the tunes are a fine starting point. The fingering is clear and easy to follow, for the basics that is. To get to this standard is something to aspire to.
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By Paul Magnussen TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Mar. 2011
Format: Audio CD
It seems hard to remember now that no one in the Folk Revival (except The Dubliners) was yet playing jigs and reels, and traditional musicians' performances were often ruined by clomping piano-drivers (Michael Coleman being the archetypal example). Swarbrick was like a breath of fresh air, and this album in particular was a revelation. No one then sounded like Swarbrick — although this is no longer true, since he's been a huge influence on many, not least Eliza Carthy!

The mandolin-playing is just as brilliant as the fiddle, and some of the best tunes are where they're double-tracked. The irrepressible Diz Disley joins in on two rags.

The tunes in "Spanish Ladies Medley" are "The Spanish Lady" and "Lady of Spain" (no, not the pop one from the — what was it, 50s?). "The Leitrim Fancy Medley" is "The Kerry Reel" and (unsurprisingly) "The Leitrim Fancy", and "The Teetotaller's Medley" is "The Donegal Reel", "The Teetotaller's Fancy" (aka "The Temperance Reel") and "Miss MacLeod's Reel".

The title "Gurty's Frolic's" stems from a venerable misprint in O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland: it should be "Gusty's Frolics".

On the debit side, the sound on the original LP was rather harsh.
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Format: Audio CD
It's over 35 years since this album came out on vinyl, and time hasn't changed its genius one whit. The grace and beauty in every track show Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick at, in my humble opinion, the very peak of their powers in the folk tradition. As a bonus there are also a couple of rags with the great guitarist Diz Disley stepping alongside them. Just listen to Swarbrick play "The cuckoo's nest" and marvel at his interpretation - it swings slowly and melodically through the tune with his unique phrasing. Strange that, in the eyes of some of the older fiddlers at that time, he was thought "modern"! It's a wonderful album and should be in the collection of every lover of this sort of music.
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By Marcia TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 Oct. 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Rags, Reels and Airs is a great little album that helps to focus the talent of Dave Swarbrick. The album was recorded and released in 1967. Dave had worked in the Ian Campbell Folk group and had also recorded with, and on albums credited to Martin Carthy. On those Martin Carthy albums Dave had given sensitive accompaniment to Martin and his vocals and guitar.
This interesting album puts a much stronger emphasis on the fiddle playing of Dave. It gives him a chance to stretch and shine as an instrumentalist.
As a fiddle player the album also put focus on folk tunes associated with traditional fiddle players. Some of the older fiddle players criticised the album for Dave's lack of traditional style. The truth was that Dave just wasn't playing like them. But like other young folk performers of the era he was simply offering his own modern interpretation and style of playing. Folk music is a living tradition and performers have always reflected current trends and individual styles along with traditional elements of playing. The older fiddle players had done exactly the same thing in forming their own style.

This album also had a lot of positive praise for the expert and unique performance that promoted traditional folk music in an exciting way. There is originality in the instrumental interpretation and arrangements. There is a well balanced programme of tunes and the sound is great.
The album was produced by Joe Boyd who would later introduce Dave to Fairport Convention.

The fiddle playing is excellent and displays elements of emotion, passion and even comedy. Dave also uses mandolin and there is double tracking in the recording but it all sounds great. The style of fiddle playing was a breath of fresh air at the time of the recording.
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