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VARIOUS ARTISTS "Transatlantic Sessions 2 Vol 1" Lismor IRCD063
VARIOUS ARTISTS "Transatlantic Sessions 2 Vol 2" Lismor IRCD064

Two CDs preserving the recent highspot of BBC TV's Friday night viewing. Co-directors underpinning the entire venture were Aly Bain and dobro wizard Jerry Douglas. The latters comment sums it up well "The sessions cast a magic spell on everyone who walks in. It's not like one of those folky things, smothering you with love. It's more like 'come on in', this is the place on the planet where music is the most fun right now ..."

You'll have seen the programmes and have your own favourites. Highlights for me on Vol 1 include Aly Bain's "Waiting on the Federals", Maura O'Connoll's "Blue Train", the sheer exuberance of the aptly titled "La Dance de la Vie" by Michael Doucet, and believe it or not that touristy old chestnut "Forty Shades of Green" being re-invested with a bit of dignity by Roseanne Cash.

Volume 2 has Paul Brady and a great version of "Arthur McBride and the Sergeant" (as well as throwing in verses alongside Roseanne on the above), Tommy Hayes/Fiona Kennedy/Karen Matheson on "Sanseptique Set". Karen should be declared a national treasure but where was her version of "Ae Fond Kiss" a highlight of the series? Couldn't we have had this rather than the too idiosyncratic by half "Boots of Spanish Leather" by Nanci Griffiths.

Some of the joys of both CDs comes from the teaming up of perhaps unlikely artistes with great results (it didn't always work in the first series - it does here) with the other (for me at last) coming from hearing excellent music from people I've never heard before. Sharon White with "Mansion on the Hill" is a good example with everything that Maura O'Connell does on both CDs being very fine indeed. Bain and Douglas deserve special mention being the unobtrusive guys who hold it all together. If you didn't get one of the CDs for Christmas ... sulk. If you don't get either a full blown tantrum is defensible.

Excellent albums full of highs and very little lows to moan about on either.

Hector Christie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 32 of The Living Tradition magazine.