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MICHAEL McGOLDRICK "Morning Rory" Aughrim Records AUGH01

The name of Michael McGoldrick is probably not as well known as it should be. All-Ireland flute champion in the late eighties, and BBC Radio 2 Young Tradition Award winner in 1995, Michael has been playing with the celtic rock band Toss the Feathers for ten years and has several recordings out on the German-based Magnetic Music label. His duet album with fiddler Dezi Donnelly was reviewed in LT14, and now Michael has a solo album to add to the list.

"Morning Rory" is forty-four minutes of joyous instrumental music, appropriately enough as it is named for Michael's first-born who had absolutely no words at the time! It's a young musician's album (Michael is now 25), with plenty of pace and excitement. To call it a solo album is misleading: Michael plays flutes, pipes and whistles amongst other things, and is joined by seven friends including half of Capercaillie. The result is a bit like the wilder moments of Planxty in the days of Matt Molloy and Liam O'Flynn: You can't get much better praise than that!

The first track is a virtuoso rendition of two traditional reels on pipes and flute: fast and furious, but perfectly controlled. Track 2 is a couple more reels, the second a McGoldrick composition, a little slower and sparser. Track 3 is three reels (getting the picture?) played with traditional wild abandon on flute and guitar, and in fact the final tune is a little too abandoned at times. If this was a live album, I'd be blaming the cups of tea at the interval. The next track is back in line, a beautiful rendition of the Andy Cutting air "The History Man", nicely underpinned by the box-playing of Alan Kelly (I think).

A set of jigs adds a new rhythm, including another of Michael's own tunes, and then it's back to reels. Track 7 is one of the best: two slip jigs, the first from the playing of Dervish and the second written for "Baby Rory" by the proud father, both great tunes taken at a lovely pace. The album ends with four sets of reels, all surprisingly different: several more McGoldrick compositions, some brilliant whistle-playing on Track 8 in particular, two fantastic examples of traditional flute-playing on Tracks 9 and 10 including the excellent "Mulhaire's Reel" (called "Lavery's 2" here), and a quirky final track which is the only trace of the rock'n'roll years.

My first impression of this album was excellent, and that hasn't changed with repeated listening. The sleeve notes are a bit home-made, but otherwise this is a totally polished product with loads of good music and nothing much to offend the traditionalists. If you see it, buy it.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 20 of The Living Tradition magazine.