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REELTIME "Live it Up" Green Linnet GLCD1179

In the three years since their first album, Reeltime haven't lost their freshness and sense of fun. What they have lost is their keyboards player, the irrepressible Benny Hayes (him of the ukulele and purple shirt). Benny's loss has been compensated for by the addition of Luke Daniels (second box), John Flatley (keyboards) and Yvonne Fahy (percussion), which should give you some idea of Benny's importance! On this CD, the new 6-strong line-up is augmented by the same number of guests.

Reeltime set the tone with a tongue-in-cheek opening track. "The Trucks of Bohermore" is both a wry social comment on the road trains of Connemara and an excuse to spice up some well-worn reels. A slightly more serious set of jigs follows, featuring the twin boxes of Eilis Egan and Luke Daniels, and then comes the first of four songs from Mairin Fahy. None of the songs here will be new to anyone familiar with the Irish showband tradition or the recordings of major Irish folkgroups of the '70s and '80s, but Reeltime have dusted them down and given them a fresh lick of paint so that "Endearing Young Charms" or "Buachaill On Eirne" regain some of their freshness and vitality. The song arrangements are rich and tasteful, but their uniformly plaintive tone is only accentuated by Brendan Power's bluesy harmonica and Mairin Fahy's voice can sound rather thin by comparison.

The songs are interspersed with some excellent sets of up-beat reels and a couple of lovely waltzes, with plenty of unexpected twists and a touch of eclecticism on most tracks. All in all, this is great fun and very cosmopolitan: there's even a gadulka! For a quick preview, try tracks 7 and 8, chalk and cheese: everything else is somewhere in between.

Alex Monaghan

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