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DICKY DEEGAN "An Phib" Own Label DD002CD

Dicky Deegan's second CD is a vast improvement on his debut recording By The River Of Gems. There are still times when Dicky's technique lets him down, but most of the time this CD is entertaining and enjoyable. Dicky clearly loves the music of his Irish forebears, and is doing his best to recreate the sound of early 20th-century uilleann piping in his Tasmanian home.

For the purists, there are still plenty of nits to pick. The drones are less than steady, the tuning is less than perfect, the fingering is sometimes sloppy, the style shifts at random from extremely percussive to super-fluid, and unintended register jumps are compounded by occasional dead stops. But Dicky Deegan is not a purist, and being largely self- taught he has picked up techniques and ideas from all over. The interest and appeal of his music is largely in its energy, passion and innovation: there are no classic performances here, but there's plenty to entertain, intrigue, and even inspire an open-minded listener.

One thing nobody could complain about is the quantity of material on An Phib. With sixteen tracks totalling 72 minutes, Dicky has filled almost all the time available on current CD formats. Unusually, Dicky has concentrated on the slower side of the Irish piping repertoire. There are ten airs and numerous other slow tunes on this recording, and the innovative variations and imaginative arrangements are certainly worth hearing. As Sandy Brechin famously wrote, "Sometimes it doesn't work" - but that's the nature of progress. When it does work, it's first class: the opening track A Stor Mo Chroi is an eloquent statement of intent, and the stately treatment of Limerick's Lamentation is a clear winner. Dicky's spirited renditions of The Flags of Dublin, The Fairy Dance, The Gold Ring and other dance tunes are equally refreshing.So is the big, brash, unapologetic sound of the pipes on this album, and the frequent use of regulators.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 51 of The Living Tradition magazine.