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PADDIE BELL "Paddie Herself & I know where I'm Going" ALACD 104

THE CORRIE FOLK TRIO & PADDIE BELL "The Corrie Folk Trio & Paddie Bell" & "The Promise of the Day" BGOCD 519

 
 

Two pieces of history here for the price of one, and forget the nostalgia trip as the main reason for buying, as this has stood the test of time well. The first album was recorded in 1965, and has a young accompanist on guitar called Martin Carthy who flew up from London for the day and put the whole thing together with Paddie in that time. On a separate album (with the Corries) Paddies voice is described as something that has led to rumours that she returns to the fairies at midnight, and is a remarkably apt description of her silver tones that can hold you spellbound all over again through renditions of songs such as "Butcher Boy", and "Joys of Love".

"I know where… " contrasts the aforementioned tones with the roughest and splendidly gruffest tones outside of Ronnie Drew or Luke Kelly i.e. Eddie Furey, which along with the piping of Finbar, helps produce an overall work of which does cause you to pause and regret that they only did this one album together. Coming three years after the first album the overall material is that bit stronger, and "Come by the Hills" has never sounded better than in Paddie's hands, whilst her treatment of the title track is innocently haunting. Innocence isn't the first word that might spring to mind when contemplating the singing of Eddie, but it does apply if you take the word to mean something pure and unaffected, as he pours his heart out in unabashed glorious style on "Pretty Saro" and "The Spanish Lady". Oh, - and the piping's pretty good too!

It's something of a wonder that a major Corries retrospective hasn't yet been done. Perhaps - unlike Abba - it's still not OK to admit you liked them, but the day will come…

"The Corrie Folk Trio & Paddie Bell" & "The Promise Of The Day" is their first two albums before the duo of Ronnie Browne and Roy Williamson went on to become household names, and inspire more copyists than anyone before or since North of the Border, including some fairly well known names in addition to the duo down your local pub, and as well as the heidbanger in the next tent at festivals who insists on giving you "Killiecrankie" at 3am.

When you listen to the Beatles in their Hamburg days ,it's far from obvious that they were inevitably going to make it. Not so here - there's no way that the Corries couldn't make it - they had voices, youth, glamour, and a strong repertoire that - apart from those "in the know"- was largely unknown. You now know all the songs and will probably already have this tucked away somewhere amongst your old loon pants and autographed picture of Bobby Vee. I'd forgotten that, on disc at least, Bill Smith was the most "in yer face" performer of the lot, and obvious influences from the early Clancy Brothers adhere. Paddy is sweetly affecting on "Lord Gregory", whilst Ronnie Browne's rabble rousing on songs like "My Love She's but a Lassie yet" is offset by his abilities on quieter songs and his ability with ballads such as "Jock O' Braidislee".

The great loss though is Roy. He had the quintessentially Scottish voice of wet hills, mists, broken dreams and the ability to communicate the smaller things about life in this part of the world not just through the lyrics but in the overall sound he created. He could create the sound of yearning through inflection and lilt in a way not paralleled by anyone, and when Roy ached so did the listener with him. Although his songwriting had not developed at this stage he does wonders with the works of others - hear him particularly in the keening style he employs at the termination of "Shoals o' Herrin'", or in the resigned melancholy of "The Verdant Braes o' Screen".

The Corries may latterly have gone down a route that strayed too far into repetition at the expense of creativity, but the evidence that earlier they were a creative phenomenon and that Williamson in particular was a magical person is all here, and if you haven't already got the albums (or want to get away from vinyl) this is worth checking out.

Hector Christie

 
 

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