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PATRICK STREET - "Made in Cork" - Green Linnet GLCD1184
THE FOUR STAR TRIO - "The Square Triangle" - Craft CRCD02

Maybe it's me, but Patrick Street seem to have gone off the boil on this one. They open in fine style with a set of jigs at a nice relaxed pace, but the pace seems to get slower and slower from then on in. By the time you get to "The Rainbow Mid the Willows", a six-minute ballad of broken hearts and blighted lives, things have got so miserable that it's hard to keep from sobbing. That's one good thing about CDs - they don't get as tear-stained as vinyl.

I exaggerate, of course, but this really is a very downbeat album. The instrumentals are polished but not sparkling, and the songs are verging on the maudlin. Some of this is due to the choice of material, and some of it to the plodding accompaniment on fretted strings. There are a couple of high points: the slides are very good, and the guitar picks up a bit towards the end of the slow polkas. (Slow polkas? Downbeat or what?) There's also quite a racey song about horses, and a couple of less downbeat instrumentals, but the 45 minutes of this recording do not pass quickly.

The Four Star Trio, on the other hand, make light work of their debut recording. They start a little quicker than Patrick Street, and they keep the spark going throughout what is a very entertaining 53 minutes. There are some mellow moments, such as an unusual Irish Gaelic song and a beautiful slow air, but most tracks are bouncy and vibrant. The instrumentals are fresh and varied, and there are two lovely examples of the sort of comic songs which Patrick Street used to do so well.

The comparisons with Patrick Street are obvious: same instrumentation, same mix of songs and tunes, same leanings towards Cork, and so forth. The difference is perhaps the triumph of youth over experience: the life in this debut album is irrepressible, whereas Patrick Street's sixth recording is in dire need of resuscitation at times. However, the Four Star Trio could certainly learn a thing or two about slides from Patrick Street's offering.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 26 of The Living Tradition magazine.