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SANGSTERS - "Begin" - Greentrax CDTRAX 065

The opening tracks of this debut recording by Anne Combe, Fiona Forbes and Scott Murray have the homespun feel of Canada's McGarrigle sisters, in itself a high enough recommendation. This reinforced by the third track on the record being Anna McGarrigle's "Heart like a Wheel": I have yet to hear a performance by someone else in the same spine-tingling class as the original, but Sangsters' cover is one of the best that I have come across.

Of the sixteen tracks on the C.D. three are humorous. I fear that with repeated listening the humour of "Chorus Song" and "C-Rap" will fade, although the message of the former song should be learned by all writers and performers of "meaningful" songs working around the folk circuit! On the other hand, the humorous re-write of "Will Ye Gang Love" is such that it will not wear thin with time.

The remaining thirteen tracks are sheer delight. There are some of the best harmonies that I have heard for a long time contained on this record. The selections are both traditional and from contemporary writers like the aforementioned Anna McGarrigle plus Eric Bogle ("Feed the Children"), John Stewart ("Some Kind of Love") and Andy M Stewart ("Golden, Golden"), along with Robert Burns ("The Lea Rig") and Irving Berlin ("Simple Melody").

Sangsters formed in the summer of 1991, according to the sleeve notes, but ease of their harmonies sounds as if they have been working together for years. It would be extremely difficult and also unfair to pick out the singing of Anne, Fiona or Scott above that of the others, and therefore I shall not attempt to do so. The guitar playing of Scott is difficult to fault, although it would be noted that on "C-Rap" he is assisted by Nick Keir on guitar and keyboards and on "White Cockade" by Ian McCalman's guitar.

"Begin" is an excellent debut record and already this reviewer is looking forward to more material appearing from this talented trio.

Phil Clark

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This album was reviewed in Issue 2 of The Living Tradition magazine.