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Pete Fyfe

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Foxlight
Foxlight
Price: £10.51

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars IARLA O' LIONAIRD - Foxlight, 9 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Foxlight (Audio CD)
Ignorant peasant that I am, I hold my hands up and declare that I have never understood the Gaelic language or, more than likely never will do. Still, that doesn't stop me from enjoying it as an aural texture and in fact find it quite soothing in many of my more relaxed `mood' moments. If you're looking for a serious bit of `chill-out' then this album will more than likely appeal to you as it did me. Many of the `folk' world will know Iarla O'Lionaird having been the vocalist in the Afro Celt Sound System but here, accompanied by Leafcutter John, Simon Edwards and Neil McColl amongst others this recording is a far more relaxed affair. Utilising the main framework of Leo Abrahams electric guitar, piano, effects and programming the project might appear at first to be an indulgence by O'Lionaird but repeated listening will be justly rewarded by those who enjoy their `folk' music with a bit of class.

PETE FYFE


The Long Hard Road
The Long Hard Road

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars TOM MCELVOGUE & PADDY KERR - The Long Hard Road, 9 Feb. 2012
This review is from: The Long Hard Road (Audio CD)
Flautist Tom McElvogue is a name highly regarded by many musicians on the Celtic `session' circuit. His tunes are often credited by those that should know better as traditional but in a back-handed sort of way what finer compliment can a musician have than for your own melodies to be soaked up sponge-like into the tradition. Come to think of it the same thing happened to Hughie Jones "Ellen Vannin Tragedy" many years before. On this CD, Tom is accompanied by Paddy Kerr's precise, but never boring bouzouki, guitar and bodhran where required and it's really refreshing to hear the full beauty of the melody unadorned by flashy displays of decoration. This recording proves to be a real joy as the emphasis is placed on sets of tunes which wouldn't be out of place performed at an Irish Step Dance class bringing back fond memories of my own experiences working with accordionist James Montgomery and `Doctor' Michael Moriarty who often used Tom's tunes in their sets as well. This is an album that perhaps non-musicians might judge too quickly as stark but personally speaking if you are looking for an articulate and artistic approach without all the bells and whistles I'd say you've come to the right place.

PETE FYFE


Future Trad Collective
Future Trad Collective
Price: £13.50

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Future Trad Collective - Future Trad Collective, 9 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Future Trad Collective (Audio CD)
Some years ago the Afro Celt Sound System proved that traditional Celtic music could be successfully married to music from other cultures. Looking at this album as an extension of that thought process and with more than a doffing of the cap to an Asian influence the Michael McGoldrick/Ian Fletcher spear-headed project is, if nothing else `quirky'. With most of the tracks coming in at about seven and a half minutes allowing plenty of time for indulging or should that read `experimentation'...the jury's still undecided. Whichever way you look at it it's an ambitious plan but having listened to the entire album two times I'm afraid I still can't get to grips with it. OK, the band including Andrew Dinan and Donald Shaw are faultless technically speaking but the `folk music' taste brigade may have something else to add as to whether it works or not. If I'm deemed a plebeian then so be it and I'm sorry I couldn't have been more positive about this recording as it leapt straight to the top of my `to do' list. As anyone who knows me will testify that whilst my liking of (nearly) everything that is touched by the hand of Mr McGoldrick remains undiminished...it's just that this album isn't particularly my cup of tea.

PETE FYFE


Another Realm -Digi-
Another Realm -Digi-
Price: £29.54

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Iona - Another Realm, 9 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Another Realm -Digi- (Audio CD)
I'll only mention it once (and believe me, it's a compliment) that when Clannad released their album "Robin Of Sherwood" in 1984 they were to prove inspirational not only to me but they also opened the door to a far wider demographic than `folk music' could ever achieve on its own. The reason I mention this is that for lovers of this genre of music Iona have now accepted the baton of stylish folk-rock that I did not expect to see revived. Since the band formed in 1989 I have for some reason only enjoyed peripheral knowledge of their CD releases...but, from now on...no longer! When I say that music and arrangements this good are a rare commodity you should check the band out as soon as possible. If, like me you enjoy being enveloped in deep washes of sumptuous keyboards (courtesy of Dave Bainbridge), Joanne Hogg's vocals, Frank Van Essen's violin, Phil Barker on bass guitar and the crowning glory that is Martin Nolan's Uilleann pipes this review may perhaps prove something of an understatement. Although not strictly `folk' it is the grand, sweeping statements that captures the imagination like standing on the edge of Beachy Head peering over the precipice and wondering what it would be like to soar like a bird as you launch your self from the cliffs. OK, so perhaps my eloquence (or lack of it) in conveying my thoughts in prose is for some a bit too flowery...but I hope you get my drift? Without wishing to sound condescending, if your only preconceived idea of the band is through their association with all things `Christian' then I'd like to suggest that you think again and treat the music as `art for art's sake'...you won't be disappointed. Via a process of reminiscing, the only other artists texturally to come close to Iona were in the displays of showmanship by the pomp-rock band Renaissance and particularly their album "Ashes Are Burning"...which again I hope will be treated as a compliment of the highest order. Finally congratulations on the superlative artwork provided by Tim Martindale. You can actually read the lyrics with no problem and the photography is stunning. A solid pat on the back to everyone involved. As they used to say years ago, I'll give it ten! (or five...depending which publication you're reading).

PETE FYFE
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New Blood
New Blood
Price: £12.51

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Gabriel - New Blood, 25 Oct. 2011
This review is from: New Blood (Audio CD)
Watching Peter Gabriel's stunning performance with the New Blood Orchestra on Jools Holland's Later the other evening proved inspirational. OK, so the luxury of being a multi-millionaire can unburden you of the restraint of record company executives waiting their next fix of "...where's the next hit single" but trust me, an indulgence this album is not. From a listener's point of view in many ways you wind up willing that each track will surpass itself and that the recording will never end. I know I did and the sumptuous banquet spread out before me like an episode of a Heston Blumenthal TV show proves that the adage "...there's life in the old dog yet" certainly has legs. It's with this expectation and hope that Gabriel rises to the challenge making you feel justified that you have faith in his outpourings are met with a sigh of relief when he easily achieves each goal. The songs included here are a snapshot of his career to date including the powerful horns/strings led "Rhythm Of The Heat", the exquisite "Downside Up" (with additional vocals from his daughter Melanie) and the energising pulse of "Solsbury Hill" with its gloriously majestic trumpet counter melody as a finale. To my knowledge Peter Gabriel has never recorded an `Unplugged' session for MTV and, if that is the case this CD could well be his homage to the genre. As long as we are blessed by performers of this calibre I can't think of a finer way to celebrate Britain's musical heritage. Unquestionably my album of the year!

Pete Fyfe


Spring Hill
Spring Hill
Offered by AVIDES UK
Price: £26.51

4.0 out of 5 stars CHLOE & SILAS - Spring Hill, 18 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Spring Hill (Audio CD)
Every now and then I receive an album of which I have no expectations but pleasantly surprises and "Spring Hill" by Chloe Hall (vocal and guitar) and Silas Palmer (fiddle/percussion/voice) proves the point nicely. Funnily enough I had just been playing some tracks by Suzanne Vega (thank God for iTunes!) and in a way this recording wouldn't seem out of place in my female singer/songwriter collection from the mid 80's. Opening with the technically nuanced "Call Somebody" where the phrasing is all important brings a knowledge of dramatic effect vividly to the fore showing a thought process clearly aimed at entering the consciousness of those willing to `listen' carefully to lyrics. Also, the arrangements prove the old adage that less is more with only a hint of colour instrumentally expertly placed to bolster Hall's impressive guitar accompaniment. Having captured my imagination I just couldn't stop playing the album until the end with the proof (for me at least) that there's not a duff track here. Trust me...this is a rare thing in my position as a reviewer who enjoys the luxury of the fast forward button if I'm not sure about certain songs. On another track, the beguiling "Tax Office Love Song" Ms Hall has a way with words that makes you feel she wouldn't be a good candidate for the Jeremy Kyle Show (she'd be far too clever for his `probing' questions) or is that just my snobbish view rising to the surface? If you haven't guessed it already I`m totally smitten and if there was a star rating high enough I'd say it had gone inter-galactic! Now, if you'll excuse me I'm just off to play the whole recording again.

PETE FYFE
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Doors at Eight
Doors at Eight

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PETER KNIGHT'S GIGSPANNER - Doors At Eight, 18 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Doors at Eight (Audio CD)
I must admit that I couldn't wait to get my hands on this gem of a recording from Steeleye Span's virtuosic violin player Peter Knight and his henchmen Roger Flack (guitar) and Vincent Salzfas (percussion). Now, and without the merest hint of partiality...I used to play with Roger in The Tabs...I can let you know that this is one of those albums that once you put it on, you can't stop playing. Considering he hardly reads a note of music Flack's dextrous and decorative chord work within the band adds so much colour that you'd think he'd been sponsored by Dulux whilst Knight and Salzfas feel-good factor with their perfectly balanced sound means you'd be forgiven for thinking that the audience appreciation at the end of each track was possibly an overdub. The answer to that one is a resounding "No". With the addition of Joe Cauldwell's didgeridoo on "Sharpe Goes Walkabout" or Hugh Crabtree's Gauloises saturated melodeon on "Dave Robert's French Waltz" complete with "La Vie En Rose" as a cheeky appendage this album pleases not only their spectators but also the listener with the merest hint of unabashed cliché. Finally, did you know that "The Water Is Wide" is one of the most covered songs in the traditional canon? I've personally got 35 versions...and still counting but to carry the tune off as a purely 7:05 minute instrumental shows you the quality of musicianship on display here and we in the `folk' world should be justifiably proud to count this artful cartel as one of our own.

PETE FYFE


Shadow And Light
Shadow And Light
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.17

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JOHN DOYLE - Shadow And Light, 18 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Shadow And Light (Audio CD)
John Doyle may, at first hearing appear an earnest, thought provoking artist but at least he cannot be accused of being dull. By that I mean he understands that with extensive knowledge of your subject matter you have in your hands the tools to inspire and in return will hopefully have the same effect on anyone you are imparting this information to. If that is his intention he has certainly found a disciple. Evocative is a term that readily comes to mind as his rounded tenor vocals coupled with a song-writing talent featured on ten of the eleven tracks sees him become a Celtic ambassador of traditional style writing in much the same way Jez Lowe invokes nostalgic thoughts of the North-East of England. If you're reading into this that I thoroughly enjoyed this album then I've done my job. Whether it be the rallying cry of "Clear The Way" based on the tale of a regiment during the American Civil War or the cheese inspired (you'll have to read the sleeve notes) closing song "Selkie" Doyle is an artist at the top of his tree allowing himself the opportunity to branch out (sorry about that) by including of a roster of first-class musicians such as Alison Brown (banjo), Michael McGoldrick (uillean pipes/flute) and John Williams (accordion). Of course many who already know his superb digital dexterity can attest to his stunning guitar accompaniment but here his tune writing particularly on the wistful "Tribute To Donal Ward/The Currachman" comes majestically to life and could easily find itself soaked sponge-like into numerous traditional `sessions'.

PETE FYFE


By Hook Or By Crook
By Hook Or By Crook
Price: £13.68

4.0 out of 5 stars The Bad Shepherds - By Hook Or By Crook, 18 Oct. 2011
This review is from: By Hook Or By Crook (Audio CD)
At first the idea of `folk' with a punk attitude didn't appeal to me more than likely due to my `traditional' prejudices but when I heard that multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley was on board I thought perhaps I shouldn't be too dismissive. And so it's proved. Of course, having a front-man as famous as Ade Edmondson spitting out the words helps and third member All-Ireland champion Andy Dinan holds his own. What lies beneath the performance is an energy that many of today's `folk' artists (with the possible exception of perhaps Bellowhead) could well take note of as the Shepherd's fight their way to the surface like drowning men struggling for breath after a trip on Titanic. Therefore tracks such as the Sex Pistols "Anarchy In The UK" and Teenage Kicks "Sound Of The Suberbs" find a fresh lease of life in an acoustic setting. Even the "Ramones Medley" with its kick-ass tune sandwich featuring Donockley's Uillean Pipes and Dinan's fiddle going full throttle is just the tonic the doctor ordered...and not a moment too soon if the rumours of a possible farewell tour (after only four years together?) are to be believed. Forget folk for folk's sake and think more along the lines of folk for fun.

PETE FYFE


Acoustic Gold
Acoustic Gold
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £7.16

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars STRAWBS - Acoustic Gold, 2 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Acoustic Gold (Audio CD)
As the blurb says, The Strawbs have created a unique niche for their progressive folk-rock sound but, stripped bare it is the `acoustic' element that shows how strong these basic concepts were. Therefore, trawling their impressive back catalogue is by no means an indulgence but a necessity and as I listen once again to "Ghosts", "Grace Darling", and "A Glimpse Of Heaven" I marvel at the majesty of it all. There's an inherent clarity from the instruments that drives everything along on a bed of string based accompaniment to Dave Cousins tortured vocals whether it be the chiming of his dulcimer/autoharp and banjo, Chas Cronk's 12-string guitar or the lead lines provided by Brian Willoughby, Dave Lambert and even the inclusion of Ian Cutler's fiddle is well placed for dramatic effect. OK, so the pomp element that always typified a Strawbs performance (much like it did with the Alan Parsons Project) may, on first hearing sound a little over the top at the end of the day it is these artistic flourishes that provides the listener with something more substantial than the often derided term `folk' could ever hope to achieve. By the way, for those collectors out there, there are three unreleased tracks included as a bonus.

PETE FYFE


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