Eighteen traditional and contemporary folk songs and tunes from the band's two sell-out 28 year reunion concerts in July 2015.
Review by Sue Robinson
Anna Brown on vocal, flute, piccolo, whistle, recorder, saxophone, percussion
Martin Doherty on vocal guitar, bodhran
JIm Donnell on vocals, guitar, harmonica, bodhran
Tony Hysteck on vocals, double bass, guitar, cello
Kirsty McCallan on vocals, violin, keyboards
This CD marks the long-awaited return of a much loved quintet who last performed together in 1987. In their heyday, this Australian group shared stage with the Fureys, The Dubliners, Eric Bogle and Christy Moore as well as leading Australian acoustic bands, such as the Bushwackers and Redgum.
I wasn’t a fan of Raglan Road in its heyday, but I found myself keeping this CD in my car and playing it with pleasure over and over again. From the recording, this reunion concert must have been wonderful. (Strictly speaking, there were three reunion concerts, all to full houses at Petersham and Lithgow, with, no doubt, the best tracks cherry-picked from all three.) The band is polished and tight, the audience quiet and respectful until the end of each song, when the applause shows their delight. But more importantly, the heart and soul of these songs comes through. The sad plight of a sailor too old to go to sea in Port of Call, and the yearning hope in Danny Boy, for example, moved me as I sat in traffic. And I, no doubt, embarrassed myself by singing along lustily at traffic lights to The Enniskillen Dragoons, and Midnight Special. I would have loved to attend this concert. But the CD doesn’t lose anything significant in translation.
More than 13 different instruments feature on In the Finest Tradition, as band members are all multi instrumentalists, and they all sing, providing lots of choice and a great deal of variety for the listener. And they aren’t afraid to pick and choose the best combinations for each song.
There are instrumentals, such as O’Neill’s March, and O’Shaunessy’s Fandango. There are acapella harmony pieces, such as Springhill Mine Disaster, Factory, No More Songs, and the start to Who’ll Stop the Rain. And there are clean, sparse arrangements, such as the piano, flute and cello in Danny Boy. So although many of the songs are often comfortingly familiar, Raglan Road brings its own innovative touch to each. I loved the harmonising whistles and woodwinds in O’Shaunessy’s Fandango and Abandoned Love, the plaintive violin opening in Rehearsals for Retirement, the haunting broken harmonica notes with an organ drone in Masters of War. And while surprised at first, I warmed to the quirky timings for popular standards, such as Midnight Special and Who’ll Stop the Rain.
Midnight Special was the encore.
I wanted more.
This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 17 February, 2016.