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CANTYCHIELS "Cantychiels" Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX175

Unlike the above there's less to this than meets the eye. The accompanying blurb talks about the groups being friends for "the best part of forever" who've put this album together as "a celebration of friendship". Perhaps therein lies the rub, because the claimed "eclectic collection" does sound somewhat like eavesdropping on a private function. "Eclectic" for example, to the uninitiated simply sounds lacking in focus or direction. The group is either members of others groups, eg. Deaf Shepherd, Iron Horse or ex-members, eg. Fureys, Big Dish and Black Eyed Biddy. At their best, as on "still, fruit for thought, still (reprise)" they show texture and subtlety, and they do well on Buddy Holly's "Learning the Game". "My love is like a red red rose" sounds strained, and "Loch Tay Boat Song" is interpreted in a way where lyrics and performance grate against each other. Although they are eleven in number on the evidence of this outing, more means less. Perhaps this undoubtedly experienced group of musicians who enjoy playing with each other should have resisted the temptation to go into the studio just yet.

Robin Williamson & Clive Palmer "At the Pure Fountain" PWM D5017 "Oh joy; oh hell; pass the ear plugs". What a very very strange album, infuriating in bits, arresting in others with one track so beautiful it would be a sin not to sit down and listen attentively each time it plays.

Robin and Clive, together for the first time in thirty years play songs that have meaning for them and aim to retain their simplicity and often succeed.

However, on "Tramps and Hawkers" Robin's vocal goes into Caledonian hyperdrive, the result ending up with this Scotsman sounding like a non-Scot, trying too hard to be 101% Scottish and instead sounding like someone from the Pasadena amateur dramatic society's version of Brigadoon.

Clive holds the attention well on pipes; Robin changes "Forfar Sodger" to the "Far For Soldier" and here in muted fashion sings it half to himself.

It is although the listener is overhearing him and its strangely effective, though no doubt it won't please some.

A half remembered review of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash's "Girl from the North Country" came back to me as I listened to Robin and Bina Williamson on "Green Grow the Laurels". The original review affectionately described the two as performing the vocal equivalent of two drunks comically weaving their way up an icy road, and its a description well suited to this track.

"Wais me for Prince Charlie" has a nice background vocal, but when Robin comes in speaking hushed, reverential lyrics to the mike I couldn't suppress a snigger and am deeply ashamed - "Ah wonder if you're lonesome tonight" Enuff.

Hector Christie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 34 of The Living Tradition magazine.