CD Review by Tony Smith
This album was recorded at Melody Lane Studio, Coogee. The date is uncertain but the band was very active around 2005.
The trio got together in Canberra after the members played with Western Australia’s Mucky Duck Bush Band and also in Adelaide. They won an award at the Irish Club in the 2000 ‘Great Irish Music Competition’ and have toured internationally.
Their name derives from their realisation that they had come full circle in their careers.
The trio are James Hooper (guitar and vocals), Jerry Everard (Hardingfele, fiddle and vocals) and Bruce Topperwien (bass and vocals). The Hardingfele is a fiddle-like Norwegian instrument with a row of sympathetic strings under the usual four. The sound is slightly more buzzy and jangly than the usual fiddle sound.
As the combination of instruments suggests, the band’s repertoire is best described as arrangements of traditional tunes and songs from Australia, Ireland, Scotland and England.
The beautiful ‘Belfast Mill’ was written in 1970 by Si Kahn about mill closures and loss of mill culture in the town of Aragon in Georgia. Recognising the universal experience the Fureys in 1982 recorded the song as ‘Belfast Mill’.
‘Jim Jones’ and ‘Lachlan Tigers’ are Australian standards.
‘Country Life’ is an English song attributed to the Watersons. ‘I like to rise when the sun she rises early in the morning … hurrah for the life of a country boy and to ramble in the hay’.
‘Blackleg Miner’ describes a lockout from Northumberland in the mid nineteenth century and the treatment handed to scabs.
‘Da Eye Wifie, Spoot o’ Skerry, Tongadale’ is a set of Scottish reels.
‘250 to Vigo’ has controversial provenance. The late Angus Grant, fiddler with Shooglenifty, wrote the tune and it refers to Vigo in Galicia. However, 250 could refer to the number of a bus route, the time of the bus or a 250cc motor cycle on which Grant hitched a ride to Vigo. Not that it matters, it is a fine tune.
‘Hot Asphalt’ tells a humorous tale of a gang laying asphalt on a road.
‘Blood Red Roses’ is a sea shanty.
‘Star of the County Down’ has been covered by many singers.
I’m a ‘Man you don’t meet every day’ tells the tale of Jock Stewart who likes to shout the bar.
‘Spancel Hill’ is a sad tale of Irish emigration, a poem written by Michael Considine, who at age 20 in 1870, went to America hoping to bring his sweetheart there. But he died at 23.
‘Cliffs of Moher and Banish Misfortune’ are well known jigs.
While this might not be a technically perfect album, there is a clarity and openness to this music.
This is a work of great integrity and very enjoyable.