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THE KEELERS "On The North Sea Ground" Keel Music KMCD103

Past albums from the Keelers, "Keelhaulin' and "Farewell to the Master", have all been of a seafaring life, filled with shanties and sea songs. Their new recording, "On The North Sea Ground" still has that astringent tang of salt and wet oilskins but this time around their songs also take us to the dank, confined ledges and seams of the pits and mines.

The Keelers are: Alan Fitzsimmons, Jim Mageean, Danny McCleod, George Unthank and Peter Wood. Five strong singers whose overall sound is none too soft and sweet nor over refined. Indeed their singing style is gutsy and spirited, at times even threatening the unruly, but always very much within the intention of the chosen songs.

Little of the recorded material is traditional although even the newest of the songs have a basis in the style and format of older songs. Ed Pickford, Gordon Bock, Johnny Handle, Terry Conway, Bob Watson, Alex Glasgow and Mat McGinn are among the credited writers.

This mix of good singers and good songs leads to some great tracks the best of which include, "The Foreshift", "One Miners LIfe", "Twenty Long Weeks", "Guard yer Man Well" and "Row on Row on".

Peter Fairbairn

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