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ARTY McGLYNN "McGlynn's Fancy" Emerald Records BERCD 011

I was immediately impressed with this CD. It was recommended to me a couple of years ago by Dick Gaughan, and it is quite comparable to Dick's classic "Coppers and Brass" album. I first heard it on cassette, and its re-release on CD is very welcome.

Arty McGlynn has recorded with most of the great Irish traditional musicians of recent years, and was the forerunner of Gerry O'Brien and Steve Cooney as the most sought-after backing guitarist on the traditional scene. More recently he has played with "Skylark" and "Four Men & A Dog". This album was the first showcase for his playing, and is quite different from his recent "Lead the Knave" album with Nollaig Casey.

"McGlynn's Fancy" is an all-acoustic, truly solo album which shows off Arty's guitar and bouzouki playing in the traditional style. The material is all drawn from Ireland, many of the tunes are well known, and all are given a quite traditional treatment: no backing musicians, no Carribean beats, no atmospheric sound-picture in the background. Despite this simplicity, the album is very varied and held my attention throughout. This is partly due to the choice of material: every tune on "McGlynn's Fancy" is memorable. However, the most striking aspect of this album is the musicianship: Arty doesn't put a finger wrong, and his deft interpretation enhances everything from airs to reels.

Most of the album is strictly instrumental, but Arty's strings are joined by the earthy voice of David Hammond for two fine songs, both versions of well-known material. The other ten tracks range from beautiful slow airs to rollicking reels. My particular favourites were the O'Carolan pieces, which I have never heard played better on a guitar. I was also struck by the jig "Arthur Darley" and the first set of reels. In fact, there wasn't a track I didn't like: I was delighted with the whole thing.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 7 of The Living Tradition magazine.