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LUCKY BAGS "Food for Thought" Fellside FECD112

Lucky Bags are a good lot who've done well in this, their first album. If I have a criticism it's maybe of their tendency towards slight over-inclusion of material from the pens of respected contemporary songwriters, such as Messrs A. Taylor and R. Thomson which are fairly true to the original arrangements. Whilst this is acceptable perhaps in concert, as part of a recorded work it's less wise, as repeated playing without the visual distraction of live performance tends to either invite comparisons or at least to be seen to add little to already well known songs. The band clearly have a great respect for these writers, but sometimes it's best to exercise rigorous self discipline at the studio door and leave the hero worship outside.

On the other hand there's considerable freshness here - "Cried You A Waterfall" was dug up by Zena and if they continue to unearth and work up material such as this they can only go from strength to strength. A word here too about their abilities in the direction of the tradition - "Cotton Mill Girls" is a great ensemble piece, and "Bonny at Morn" holds its head up here. I once wrote a live review of the band lamenting what I thought was a tendency towards over democratisation on stage, and recommending that they give more foreground to one of the members who I thought came across just that bit better than the others. I hereby revise that opinion, on record at least, because one of its chief charms is the rich variety of vocal textures apparent as lead vocals are shouldered by different members of different times, and on harmonies this splendid interweaving of those different voices. It's not all vocals, however. The band feature Appalachian dulcimer, English concertina, claves, bodhran, and harp alongside guitar and let them go in various combinations of self penned and other tunes from such sources as the Northumbria Pipes Duet Book.

I'm interested in Lucky Bags and wonder what direction they'll take. Just how wrothy of interest they are is revealed by one track more than the others. "Howling at the Moon" written by an American Jane Gilman, has that yodelly wild quality last heard (in my case at least) in the movie "The Colour of Money" where Tom Cruise performed showy antics with a pool cue to "Werewolf of Old London Town" complete with "Waaaahh-Ooooohs" similar to those unleashed here. Splendid stuff - sound album.

Hector Christie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 21 of The Living Tradition magazine.