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Dick Gaughan's The Croppy's Complaint - Music & SongsSongs of 1798
THE CROPPY'S COMPLAINT "Music & Songs of 1798"Craft Recordings CRCD03

With that title, and the subtitle "Music and Songs of 1798", I knew that I was pressing my play button onto an album of Irish music. I didn't know it was going to be such a good one with a superb line-up of singers and musicians giving the powerful content full justice.

The term 'croppy' according to Francis O'Neill, author of "Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody", refers to the custom of reformers in Ireland wearing their hair cropped short. This of course marked them out as governmental targets. Apparently 'cropping' was considered secondary evidence of treason, sufficient cause for arrest.

Mike O'Brien opens with "The Rights of Man" on the Uilleann pipes, a piece made in honour of the famous text by Thomas Paine and a fine choice to start with. It's a brilliant programme of songs, many of broadside origin, multi-versed and lilting with the rhyming plans so typical and so effective in Irish song. There are several instrumental pieces included with pipes, accordion, fiddles well to the fore, stirringly played. The whole programme - songs and all - works upon the emotions. The songs extol heroes, praise bravery, uphold pride and defiance. Salutary listening for an Englishman, especially when we consider that this music speaks of 200 years ago but has powerful resonance in the brinkmanship times of today.

The best thing I can do is to totally recommend this to everyone. I'm unable to pick out highlights - it comes as a whole. History in music, music as history. Singers like Frank Harte, Tim Lyons, Roisin White, Luke Cheevers, join to deliver some great thought provoking music. The booklet makes several mentions of the Goilin Traditional Singers club. If they promote stuff like this, I want to go there. Where is it?

Roy Harris

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This album was reviewed in Issue 30 of The Living Tradition magazine.