OCCASIONALS – Birling (Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX371)

For those looking to extend their repertoire of ceilidh dance tunes you could do no better than purchase this ebullient collection by one of Scotland’s leading bands the Occasionals. Within their ranks there’s the formidable tune writing skills and accordion playing of Freeland Barbour (ex Silly Wizard don’t you know), Ian Hardie (fiddle), Gus Millar (drums) and strings man Kevin MacLeod on banjo, mandolin and tenor guitar. This is Scottish dance music performed the way it used to be when I was a youngster at school and all the more enjoyable for that as I’ve come to that point in my life whe re I do a lot of reminiscing. Thoughtfully included in the booklet are suggested dances such as The Gay Gordons and Strip The Willow etc and with Scottish dances proving so popular once again I’m sure the album will be snapped up like a queue for a deep-fried Mars bar at the local Glasgow chippie on a Friday night.

PETE FYFE

Artist web link – www.theoccasionals.com

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Levellers release Mutiny video

Levellers have just released the latest instalment of their project to record a video for every track from their recently released album, Static On The Airwaves.

Mutiny tells the story of the 1917 Étaples Mutiny by British troops in France during the First World War, and in particular that of its exectuted ‘leader’ Corporal Jesse Robert Short. The video was produced by Rich Mulryne and Emma Birchett

For latest Levellers tour dates visit: http://www.levellers.co.uk

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

RICHARD THOMPSON – ELECTRIC

Declared by Rolling Stone as one of the Top 20 Guitarists Of All Time and considered one of the UK’s most outstanding songwriters, musician Richard Thompson returns with a brand new, guitar driven record titled ELECTRIC for Proper Records on Monday, February 11th.

After taking the bold step of recording his last album of new songs live, when it came to recording ELECTRIC, Thompson turned to Buddy Miller (Robert Plant’s Band Of Joy, Solomon Burke, Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin) to produce, recording at Miller’s home studio in Nashville, TN. Miller who himself is renowned for his guitar skills recently told Rolling Stone: “I played along on the record, playing rhythm guitar for him, and I got a two-week guitar lesson while he camped out in my house.”  The record was recorded as an electric trio with Thompson, drummer Michael Jerome and bassist Taras Prodaniuk, who both sing background vocals. Jerome and Prodaniuk formed part of the band which recorded and toured the UK Top Twenty album DREAM ATTIC, released in August 2010.

They make up the trio, with Thompson, on his forthcoming UK dates, his first extensive tour in two years.

Guests on ELECTRIC include the legendary Alison Krauss who joins Thompson on “The Snow Goose”, while English singer-songwriter Siobhan Maher Kennedy (formerly with River City People and now resident in Nashville) adds vocals on several tracks as well. Fiddle great Stuart Duncan also plays on the record; one of America’s leading bluegrass musicians he played on recent albums by Robert Plant/Alison Krauss and Elvis Costello and will be familiar in the UK from BBC4’s Transatlantic Sessions.

Richard Thompson himself commented that: “We did it ridiculously quickly. But it sounds great. It turned out surprisingly funky, sort of a new genre – folk-funk. It’s quite snappy, somewhere between Judy Collins and Bootsy Collins.”

ELECTRIC will be released as a Standard CD, Deluxe two–disc set and on 180 gram vinyl.

As a folking treat for you, we have a free stream of Good Things Happen To Bad People from the album below…

TRACK LISTING

1. Stony Ground

2. Salford Sunday

3. Sally B

4. Stuck on the Treadmill

5. My Enemy

6. Good Things Happen To Bad People

7. Where’s Home?

8. Another Small Thing In her Favour

9. Straight and Narrow

10. The Snow Goose

11. Saving The Good Stuff For You

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Recipient of a BBC Lifetime Achievement Award, Mojo’s Les Paul Award and curator of the prestigious Meltdown Festival at the Southbank in 2010, Thompson was most recently honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting by the Americana Music Association.

ELECTRIC was recorded earlier this year, 2012 marking the fortieth anniversary of Richard Thompson’s debut solo album, HENRY THE HUMAN FLY. Thompson has now released some forty albums, played on countless other classic recordings, and written more than 400 songs, some of which have been covered by R.E.M., Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, The Futureheads, Bonnie Raitt, Dinosaur Jr., Linda Ronstadt, Los Lobos, and many more.

Rolling Stone has hailed him as “a perennial dark horse contender for the title of greatest living rock guitarist.” The Independent recently described him as “probably the best guitarist this country has produced, an utterly sui generis talent…”

Thompson says of his fellow trio members: “Michael Jerome has been with me for about 12 years. He’s actually from Texas; he is a great musician, able to respond to anything that’s put in front of him.  Taras Prodaniuk worked a lot with Dwight Yoakam, and more recently with Lucinda Williams. His roots may be in country music, but he’s another extremely gifted and versatile musician.”

THE YOUNG ’UNS – When Our Grandfathers Said No (Navigator NAVIGATOR075)

The Young ’Uns are probably the most entertaining group I’ve heard in a folk club in a long while. This is not just because of the quality of their music but on-stage banter, in the course of which they’re as unconscionably rude to each other as only the very best of friends can be.

When Our Grandfathers Said No is actually their fourth album but the first on a major label with a producer from outside the trio as Stu Hanna takes over from David Eagle. It shows in the relative solemnity of the album – there is no place for a song like ‘No More Frying Bacon’ or the ten minutes of hysterical out-takes that conclude their previous outing, Man, I Feel Like A Young ’Un. Sean Cooney, Michael Phelps and David Eagle are from the north-east, specifically Hartlepool and Stockton, and inevitably draw on maritime themes – they do enjoy a good shanty.

The Young ’Uns sound very traditional – three part harmony, with accordion and a little guitar and piano – but try as you might you won’t find a single traditional song on this album. They choose carefully – Ron Angel’s ‘The Chemical Worker’s Song’ is second up and there are songs from the famous Kipling/Bellamy partnership – but more important is Sean Cooney. He writes with a feel for place and time like Angel, Johnny Handle or Matt McGinn. The opening ‘Another Storm’ and ‘The Battle Of Stockton’, from which the album’s title comes, are particularly good examples and ‘One December Morn’ is a lament which inexplicably puts me in mind of ‘The Wife Of Usher’s Well’ despite there being no connection between the two.

I can recommend both Young ’Uns CDs that I’ve got hold of but, above all, I recommend you hear them live and put your singing heads on. You’ll need them.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Ray Cooper aka Chopper is leaving Oysterband…

We have just had word that Ray Cooper, also known as Chopper, is leaving Oysterband to pursue a career as a solo singer-songwriter.

Ray says; ” After 24 years of constant touring and recording, it is not easy to give up the friends, the fans and the life I have known. We shared a lot of ups and downs and have grown together to be more like a family than a band. However, since the release of my solo album ‘Tales of Love War and Death by Hanging’ a couple of years ago, I knew that a door had been opened for me and another, more challenging path lay waiting. I have to sing”.

His last show with OB will be February 23rd in Treorchy, Wales, which is also the last date of the highly successful Ragged Kingdom tour featuring Oysterband with June Tabor.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist web link: www.raycooper.org

RÉALTA – Open The Door For Three (Réalta Music ADC 001)

It’s rare to find an album of traditional Irish music opening with a disturbingly modern sounding guitar figure before sliding into the first tune but quite a few things about Réalta are unusual.

Conor Lamb and Aaron O’Hagan both play uilleann pipes and whistles while Deirdre Galway handles the rhythm duties on guitar and bouzouki as well as being the band’s vocalist. That’s a reversal of the usual order of things but it means the band can be as delicate as you please as is the case with the opening title track while the combination of two sets of pipes is pretty powerful. They use it to great effect on the closing ‘La Volta/Drops Of Brandy’ and particularly on ‘Sliabh Geal gCua’. This is the air of an expatriate song; a song of longing for home. It could be taken gently and wistfully but the twin pipes wring every drop of pain out of the melody; not so much a sea breeze as an ocean gale.

Two of the songs sound rather jolly. They’re sung in Irish but Réalta helpfully provide synopses of the stories. The third, ‘Gathering Mushrooms’, is in English and seems to be about sex as so many traditional songs are, or am I finding a double entendre where none is intended?

This is a distinguished debut album from a band who, although young, already have a great deal of experience between them. Sadly, there don’t appear to be any plans for them to play in England in the near future although they will be at Celtic Connections in January.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist web link: http://www.realtamusic.com/