Skirm & Dezi Donnelly,
Welcome: Live in Hamburg
(Magnetic, 1995)

Like the products of so many of Ireland's best performers, this CD is an international offering. It was recorded in Hamburg by a duo, one of whom gives little info on his background and another who hails from a Manchester family and is a former All Ireland fiddle champion. The audience is presumably German and the record label is from the heart of County Clare at Doolin. There is a nice mixture of instrumental and vocal work on the CD.

As so often happens, I hear songs for years and then a particular version reveals the story to me. This is true of "Men of Worth" written by Scot Archie Fisher. I have listened without hearing for years but here I get the full impact and it is refreshing. Paul Brady's "Same Old Story" is well performed with a raw emotion that suits the lyrics very well. The Furey's have strings of great albums to their name but the track written by Martin Furey, "Grandmother's Eyes," is new to me. It is an interesting song of emigration as seen by an 82-year-old losing her family over the years.

The boys show their ability to interpret a traditional song with a lovely rendition of "Carrickfergus," which is sung on almost every Irish album. They do it full justice -- with a very Van Morrison effect -- a fact not always true with singers of a fantastic song that has been massacred in pubs and weddings throughout Ireland and beyond.

The tracks featuring jigs and reels are played with gusto and get the blood racing and the toes tapping as only tunes played by people who love the music can achieve. "Charlie Lennon's" is one of those familiar Irish tunes that are a joy to listen to and that invariably get the audience clapping along. It is coupled here with "The High Level" and "The Independent." The clapping gets even better as the lads trot on into "The Star" and the inimitable "Mason's Apron," which gets a storming performance that made me tired just listening.

With 11 tracks combining the best in old and new, modern and traditional, this is a great introduction to this talented duo. Seek it out for that St. Patrick's Night hooley or just to hear good music well played.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 14 December 2002