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SHOOGLENIFTY 'The Arms Dealer's Daughter' Shoogle 03 001

Shooglenifty return with a record that recalls the excitement of their first two studio albums. Enlivened with two new band members - Luke Plumb on mandolin and Quee Macarthur on bass the group are sounding fresh, re-invigorated and ready to fight for their place as Scotland's premier Celtic groove outfit again.

After the disappointment of the over produced 'Solar Shears' where the sonic effects overwhelmed the strength of the tunes, this recording is more natural, more focussed and throbs throughout with sheer enjoyment. The band play to their strengths - drum and bass win out over thrum and fuss, sparky writing, assured arrangements and the ever important 'fun' element returns (and not only with tune titles like 'Fit're ye dain up ma Vennel'?).

It's often forgotten that the strength in this dynamic band has been the legacy of great writing that they've added to the tradition and this album will add to that canon. Angus Grant's 'The Wrong Box', and James Mackintosh's 'A Fistful of Euro' will no doubt find their way into many sessions up and down the land. New boy Luke Plumb contributes no less than eight tunes throughout including the funky 'Scraping the Barrel' and closing track 'Tune for Bartley' where guest Michael McGoldrick adds sensuous uillean pipes to a superb refrain.

There have been many other pretenders and impersonators who have tried to grasp the essence of what this band is about. They have inevitably (and in many cases, thankfully) come and gone. But the strength of writing and playing ensures this band a great future.

So a fantastic return to form for the 'Nifty and an album that will go a long way to satisfying their many fans looking for that classic groove orientated vibe. Remember original is always best.

Iain McQueen.

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This album was reviewed in Issue 54 of The Living Tradition magazine.