Phil Coulter,
Coulter & Company
(Celtic Connections, 2004)

This is a CD of recordings made during a successful TV series hosted by the renowned Phil Coulter for Radio Telefis Eireann. With Coulter's diverse musical background, he proved an ideal lynchpin for an equally diverse stream of talented guests.

There are 21 tracks, 11 of which are Coulter-arranged instrumentals, traditional sounds such as "Spancil Hill" and "Highland Cathedral" (featuring a delightful pipe solo) brushing next to "Maple Leaf Rag" and "Appalachian Round Up."

The 10 songs are each from a different artist: Ralph McTell in fine voice with "From Clare to Here," Tommy Fleming with dramatic flair on "The Contender," bested only by a resounding and emotive version of "My Boy" from former Eurovision winner Johnny Logan. Patrick Bergin gives a surprisingly resounding, foot-stomping, rough-and-ready rendition of "The Knacker."

The female vocalists are both considerably fewer and less strongly represented on this selection: Rebecca Storm's take on "Send in the Clowns" is weak in comparison to the original, although Sweet Charity's cover of "Spirit in the Sky" has a certain panache.

This is a varied album and a departure for those accustomed to Coulter's instrumental-only CDs. There is quality and style aplenty, and enjoyment to be had in listening to some good voices and lovely arrangements. Coulter continues to go from strength to strength.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 25 September 2004

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