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SHARON SHANNON "Spellbound The Best of Sharon Shannon"
Grapevine GRACD245

Quite often I take note of artistes releasing compilation albums which are filled out with previously unreleased material - mainly because the artiste in question hasn't been around enough - or produced enough material of merit - to justify a "Greatest Hits". Fortunately, that does not apply in this case. In fact I suspect that it must have been quite difficult, choosing which tracks to include on a "Best Of". Any combination of tracks from her first three albums would have suited most tastes I suspect.

Shannon consistently plays button accordion as if, like Ann Boleyn, she had been granted an extra finger on each hand (and drives a mean fiddle to boot). Her musical collaborators include Donal Lunny who also tied the compilation together in masterful fashion and Mike Scott (who was with Shannon in the Waterboys). Sadly the Mike Scott song - the only vocal on the album, is the only item which I took a serious dislike to (mostly because it seemed out of place - but not because it was contemporary in origin, many of the tunes were written by Shannon [and there's even an incredibly tight version of a tune from a Fleetwood Mac song for good measure] - it just seems dull and bland amongst the rip roaring tunes).

One of the obvious advantages of hailing from wonderful County Clare is that you have a better than average chance of coming from a musical family and being used to playing in public from an early age - this is demonstrated by huge dollops with this album. However, in my experience, Clare's other identifying trait (apart from the peerless scenery) seems to be that every pub has locals mysteriously singing that it's 'a long way from Clare to here' - but hey, this is Ireland, and otherwise about as close as you can get to the Irish musical idiom, contemporary and present, while still upright and able to grasp one's Guinness with pride.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 31 of The Living Tradition magazine.