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David Parry - The Man from Eldorado
DAVID PARRY "The Man from Eldorado" Borealis BCD106

Borealis, one of Canada's newest record labels, are putting together a most interesting catalogue. Following boss-man Grit Laskin's witty modern song album, and Eileen McGann's traditional one, comes this record of David Parry's settings of the poetry of Robert W. Service.

Service, sometimes called "The Bard of the Yukon", or "The Kipling of the North", wrote ballads of lost souls, prospectors, wasters, and remittance men, mostly located in the Yukon during Gold Rush days. His first collection of "Songs of a Sourdough" published in 1907 opened the way to a popular career making the writer and characters like Blasphemous Bill, Dan McGrew; and Sam McGhee, who froze to death but smiled cheerfully when cremated, world famous.

These ballads, with their robust rhymes and springy rhythms are ideal for reading aloud and for public recitation. David Parry noticed their intrinsic musicality and decided to try them out with tunes - A Very Good Idea. The result is an album full of joys, songs and readings carrying a variety of moods, all of them fitted with appropriate melodies. It's good that some of Service's lesser known poems from his days in France, and in WWI are included, they deserve to be better known. I have long been a Service fan but I hadn't before seen "In Praise of Alcohol", nor "Pot of Tea" both included here I'm glad to say.

I'm sad to say though that this album is a memorial to David Parry, he died in 1995. During his life he was a member of the long-established Canadian group "Friends of Fiddlers Green". Present members provide fine instrumental backing and chorus support in an album that is an honourable testament to the talent of the poet and his interpreter.

Roy Harris

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This album was reviewed in Issue 27 of The Living Tradition magazine.