CD review by Tony Smith
I am not sure whether I am more in awe of Bernard Carney’s obvious musicality or his mastery of humorous lyrics. When Carney combines these skills so effortlessly, as very few performers can do, the result is gentle but entertaining humour.
The Collection contains tracks from Carney’s three previous commercially available albums.
Western Australian Bernard Carney appears regularly at folk festivals across the country.
Besides being a superb songwriter, he is an astute conductor of community choirs.
He adds flavour to his live performances by adding little flashes of insight. So, he tells us that an anagram of Readers Digest is Dead Tigers Arse.
Carney can engage wittily with the audience without being distracted from his song.
‘G.S.T.’ makes light of all the things the politicians promised a goods and services tax would fix.
And, of course, along the way it mocks the whole world of the political promise with its exaggerations, distortions and deceptions.
‘Skasey’ remembers a high flier who did not want to return from Spain. It was something to do with the financial regulators apparently.
The health theme includes ‘Mr Hot Weather’, ‘In the Club’ and ‘Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You’, which might well be a tobacco industry anthem. ‘Bronchiodilator Blues’ is one for all the asthmatics and sinus sufferers out there.
Carney returns to the theme of bodily functions in ‘The Flatulence Calypso’ which he says celebrates the sheep of New Zealand. The good potential is for methane gas power plants. The problem is for ozone damage.
‘Cricket Lovers’ exploits the various and many cricketing terms in the language as a lovers’ not-very-secret metaphor.
The album includes a couple of instrumentals on the guitar, Scott Joplin’s ‘The Entertainer’ which needs no introduction and ‘Fingerpickin’ Good’, an original.
Carney gives great renditions of Jimmy Rogers’, ‘Mississippi River Blues’, Piron’s shimmying ‘Sister Kate’ and the traditional blues ‘Salty Dog’.
Another which is not a Carney composition is ‘The Bantam Cock’ by Jake Thackray, the late great Yorkshire singer songwriter.
‘Requests’ is close to the bone for a busker. ‘You might know 400 songs but they’ll never pick one’. Street musicians are sitting ducks.
There are minimal sleeve notes but there is no need to have a lyrics sheet because Carney’s diction is perfectly clear. The tunes are instantly familiar as Carney uses many well known blues riffs.
The notes mention Peter Harper (bass) and Scott Wise (harmonica) but some other instrumentalists and voices are mysterious.
Being a collection of tracks, some supporting musicians might have been mentioned on the earlier albums.
If you like great Australian wit delivered in a highly competent blues style you will enjoy Bernard Carney’s The Collection.