There may be no indigenous music as such from the Isles of Scilly but that doesn’t stop members of the local community of St Agnes from expounding the merits of living on the ‘Sun Isles’. This is endorsed by the bright and breezy opening instrumental “Periglis Slip-Jig” fronted by Piers Lewin’s whistle joined by brother and special guest Giles Lewin of The Carnival Band on fiddle. The rest of the band; John Elliott (bass guitar), Joe Keelan (guitar) and James Sills (percussion) are by no means ‘rough’ and, via their input show that living on an island twenty-eight miles from mainland Cornwall does nothing to dampen the musical spirit. This is a refreshing album in that it’s basically a bunch of mates getting together for a session and turning it into something rather more tangible. Much like unearthing doubloons (unlike the car in those annoying Paul Whitehouse ads for Aviva) this album keeps throwing up nuggets of pure gold. Lewin, Elliott, Sills and Joe Keelan all have a hand in the song-writing but for me it’s the rather morose but equally edifying “Mostly Gone”, a tale of disillusionment overcome by the majesty of living on the Scillies that does it for me. On a final note I could say that the repetitive nature of the lyrics on the track “All Here Now/A Rough Lament” by guest Tom Dyson sucks (I can’t believe I just said that) but it doesn’t as it brings back memories of early Lindisfarne and the band have even thrown in the kitchen sink (literally) for good measure. For me, this album provides a somewhat quirky but thoroughly enjoyable listen and well worth purchasing…you even get the added incentive of a ‘rat bag’ made from using sailcloth off-cuts (how environmentally friendly) so even if you don’t like the album as the band say you can use it as a wallet. Nice one! PETE FYFE
This CD had remained on my ‘to do’ list for quite a while so I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to Duncan for the lateness in the review’s eventual arrival…and also to PR man Bob Buchan for reminding me to check it out. Opening with the bright and breezy “Days Like Today” with its Bluebells “Young At Heart” country ‘feel’ (particularly thanks to the swooping fiddle of Chris Stout’s fiddle) it’s obvious that McCrone has a happy, optimistic outlook on life. Surely this track alone should be worth National Radio play (is anyone at BBC Radio 2 listening?) although knowing the industry’s foibles it will more than likely fall through the cracks. Judging by the songs included on the album he has taken the time to craft each track with the help of some fine musicians including the afore-mentioned Stout, his songwriting partner Cy Jack (bass), Stevie Lawrence (most things stringed), Finlay MacDonald (highland pipes) and Lindisfarne’s drummer Ray Laidlaw. For soft Southerner’s like me, you might be interested that Mr McCrone has included the song “Baltic Street” by Carol Prior of Carol & Alan Prior fame and obviously shows discerning choice as he also includes the wistful “Ae Fond Kiss” by Robert Burns for good measure. This is the kind of album that you will put on and think why haven’t I heard more of this fine singer? Established I presume in his native Scotland, Duncan really should be more widely acknowledged as a performer of great merit by a discerning audience (which I know you are) and I suggest you buy this recording as proof. You won’t be disappointed.
Perhaps this tremendous DVD should be re-titled “Big Hearts, Big Soul” such is the impact it’s had on me! It goes without saying that Geordie-land has spawned some of this country’s best musicians and actors and (as if you needed any) here is proof that artists the calibre of Kevin Whately, Tim Healy, Jimmy Nail, Lindisfarne, Billy Mitchell, Sting and Mark Knopfler are as welcoming as a freshly pulled pint of ‘Newky’ Brown. Produced with consummate skill by Lindisfarne’s Ray Laidlaw and with commentary jointly provided by Emmerdale’s Charlie Hardwick and Eric Robson they segue between the stunning visual landscapes of the Northumberland region with musical and thespian contributions (apart from those already credited) from Alun Armstrong and a particularly nice rendition of “Still I Love Him” performed by current Emmerdale favourite Chelsea Halfpenny.
For any Newcastle football supporters there’s a roaring version of “Blaydon Races” courtesy of Whatley, Healy & Nail (worth purchasing the DVD on its own merits) and Sting joined by Nail on a striking duet of “The Waters Of Tyne”. My one reservation…and it’s only a minor one…is that Joe McElderry performs the glorious “Big River” where personally I think it should have been handed to the more mature Nail or Mitchell to give it the gravitas it really deserves. There’s plenty here for the ‘folk’ music enthusiast and, while you’re at it 70% of the profits go towards some very deserving charities. Mawson & Wareham have provided us with some great DVDs in recent years and this one certainly wears its heart on its sleeve. Highly recommended!
75% of the profits from this DVD will be donated to the following Not for Profit company and Charities: the Northumbria Anthology, the Sunday for Sammy, the Bobby Robson Foundation and the Rainforest Foundation.
‘Up in the North East we’re very proud of our musical heritage so I’m absolutely sure that this will be a DVD you’ll play again and again.’ Kevin Whately.
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In the days when I was a ‘yoof’ I was forever popping out to support artists such as Lindisfarne and their lead protagonist Alan Hull. So, it’s nice to see a recording of those bygone days appearing in the form of this release from those marvellous chaps at Market Square records. Featuring Mr Hull at his best with solo acoustic versions of his most popular ballads including “January Song”, “We Can Swing Together”, “Fog On The Tyne” and “Lady Eleanor” this is Alan at his best. In fine fettle with his wry observations on life and gentle bantering with his audience (not the angry young man as so often could be the case) there are plenty of gems unearthed such as “Dan The Plan”, “Squire” and “Money Game”. As well as being a fair ol’ chanter, Hull proves to be a first rate guitarist with plenty of soul and not a little ingenuity and this recording goes some way in proving that a good song (and tune) can stand on its own merits without a full blown arrangement. The legend that is Alan Hull will live with us forever thanks to releases like this and (personally speaking) I wish someone like Market Square could revive the glory days of other ‘classic’ folk artists such as The JSD Band, Five Hand Reel and Hedgehog Pie. I live in hope!