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Warmer for the Spark - Songs of Jimmy McCarthy
VARIOUS ARTISTS "Warmer for the Spark"
Songs of Jimmy McCarthy
TORTV 094 CD

The easiest review to write is one about something that you really like - so this one is an absolute doddle! But who would expect that of what is essentially a compilation album? Admittedly this is far from yet standard compilation, featuring, as it does, the cream of the Irish songsters: Mary Black; Christy Moore; Maura O'Connell; Mary Coughlan; Tommy Flemming; and Frances Black, with the common denominator being Jimmy MacCarthy - songwriter extraordinaire. Is the name familiar to you? I admit that it wasn't to me, which just goes to show that I should pay more attention to sleeve notes, 'cos many of his songs are very familiar indeed - old friends even. Christy Moore's "Ride On", Mary Black's wonderful "No Frontiers", and "Ancient Rain" from Mary Coughlan, and that's just the first three tracks! Add to those, "Mystic Lipstick", "Missing You", "Still in Love", and "Katie", and with work that is consistently of such a very, very good standard, full of excellent imagery and emotion, it's hardly surprising that the man attracts such high-calibre singers.

Altogether there are thirteen tracks, with Mary Black having three, everyone else two, and two from Jimmy MacCarthy himself - one of which is the superb "The Mad Lady and Me". Besides being a top notch writer he's also a damned fine singer.

The sound quality and production throughout the CD is absolutely first rate, giving no indication that the tracks have been mostly lifted from other recordings, and overall there is just over fifty minutes of pure pleasure. I could write much more to recommend this album to you, but it would only be gilding the lily.

"Warmer for the Spark" is subtitled "The Songs of Jimmy MacCarthy Volume One", I suggest that you don't think about it, just buy it, listen and enjoy. And start saving up your pennies for Volume Two!

Mel Howley

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