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ago: the same astonishingly youthful quality. In particular, Fields of the Cloth of Gold and line-up remains constant with Kevin Burke
John, about the aforementioned King John, representing Ireland and Christian Lemaitre
One song stands out from the crowd of songs are particularly memorable. However, more Brittany. With three top-notch musicians
from childhood: the recently written and than creating individually memorable songs, there are few surprises, no gimmicks and
immensely touching Bring Me Home, which so Prior has recorded what could be considered no attempts to push the music in your
movingly covers Peggy’s distinguished life and akin to a myth or legend cycle of her own. face. Instead here are three people just
which I will guess they will one day (hopefully The songs hang together cohesively and playing the music they love, enjoying its
in the far-off future) play at her funeral. And if one set of nine songs has been written as individuality, pointing up the similarities and
they do, forget “dry eyes in the house”. But the an extended tale. The accompanying DVD contrasts and occasionally joining together
best feature of this CD is not in anything you contains a concert filmed in Windsor in 2006 for some exceptional ensemble work (a few
HEAR. It is what is contained in the liner notes. during a tour that covered many of the places places reminded me of the great American
Not for Peggy the easy and lazy option of filling historically associated with the Grail and King band Fiddle Fever). Underneath this is Ged
the liner notes with the lyrics of the songs. Arthur. Using subtle background and costume Foley, whose third album with the band this
Instead, she attempts to tell us - if not why she changes, Prior relies on her impressive is. He gives a masterclass in the subtle
chose the song that she chose - at least some storytelling abilities and the musical skills of her art of accompaniment: always there when
aspect of the song that jumps out at her. How band to tell the tales. Several tracks do stand need, not getting in the way, but providing
I wish more recording artistes would grasp the out: Joseph Was a Tin Man about the journey interesting chording and lift – his timing and
nettle and attempt this (admittedly not always of Joseph of Aramathea to buy tin is one of the sheer musicianship are fantastic. It’s also nice
easy) task. more up-tempo songs on the album, with its to see him getting his own solo track, a fine
rousing percussion and piano accompaniment; transcription of the Northumbrian pipe tune Sir
I approach the end of my review with these Maman with its lament-like qualities; the Sydney Smith’s March (shame he doesn’t play
fine words of hers: “I don’t choose the songs haunting melody of Jupiter; and Dance on the pipes any more). Nicely balanced between
for these albums – they choose me. They tap the Wind with its invocation of flight reflected brisk and reflective, this is a lovely record.
me on the shoulder when I pick up the banjo in both the lyrics and the melody. One of the
and demand “Sing Me!” They go with me most impressive inclusions on the album is Paul Burgess
on my daily walk. They are my companions the ten-track cycle of Arthurian tales. This epic
when I am lonely or when I am on a long solo creation tells the different tales of the traditional
drive between gigs. They remain constant; I Arthurian legends interspersed with segments
can always depend on them to settle me down of music and poetry entitled Hallows. The
The Parish Platform
wherever I am. Their forms are stable, their cycle ends with The Once and Future King, a
clichés sometimes corny, but always reassuring rousing song featuring some lovely harmonies,
Doon Productions DP001
– and their melodies comforting. Singing them upbeat arrangements and intense singing.
is like re-visiting old friends, over and over
again. Like people, they may change shape As with many of Prior’s projects, her voice,
and sometimes meaning. Unlike people, they with its seep richness and expressiveness, is
are always there. They are like furnishings that the defining factor. The album is reminiscent
I bring with me from one home to another”. of a medieval tapestry, with its rich colours,
layers of meaning and intricate, interwoven
Gosh! How good is that paragraph of hers? stories. Lyrically, musically and visually, Prior’s
Strikes me that nobody could put it better. recording is well constructed and evocative.
Prior leads us slowly and lovingly through one
Dai Woosnam of the most enthralling, engaging and long-
lasting stories of England. Her love of the
subject matter shows and adds to the album
immensely. This album is a treasure and any
The Quest
lover of English folk music, Grail or Arthurian
Park Records PRKCD97
legends will enjoy it.
Jean Price
As if playing in Danu isn’t enough to fill in his
days (and nights!), Benny McCarthy has got
together with a bunch of his local musician
friends, plus a few other guests, to produce
Équinoxe an album of music for a good old hooley. This
Loftus Music LM003
is not a recording for purists or musicologists
to analyse and contemplate; rather it’s one
for everyone just forgetting about the rest of
life’s boring stuff, getting carried away with the
atmosphere and having a dance, or, if that’s
too much like hard work, just listen and enjoy,
since this is a delight throughout.
The band line-up is Benny McCarthy on
button box and melodeon; Pat Ryan, fiddle,
mandolin and banjo; John Nugent, guitar; and
John T Egan, vocals. Guests are Donnchadh
Gough, bodhran; Des Dillon, harmonica;
Jon Kenny, vocals; Decky O’Dwyer, trumpet
Maddy Prior has had long and glorious (yes, trumpet!); Albie Grace, bass Paul Ryan,
career as an innovative folk-based singer button box; and Bruno Stachelin, percussion.
and songwriter. The Quest is no exception There is a strong Tipperary connection, with
to that. Taking the Holy Grail as her starting many having played in the Knocknagow Ceili
point, she has constructed a brilliant addition Band. This is not a ceili band album, however,
to the corpus of existing Grail lore. The songs ditching the strict-tempo approach in favour of
focus all aspects of the legend from Joseph a free-flowing, good-time sound.
of Aramathea visiting Britain to the conception A new album from this bunch is always
of King Arthur to stories of Kings Richard and welcome. Bottine Souriante fiddler André The majority of the tunes and songs are very
John. Brunet joined for 2005’s “Play On” and the well known and very popular indeed, and it
Sponsored by BIrnam CD The Living Tradition - Page 
Issue80.indd 49 14/7/08 14:54:53
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