Great Big Sea,
Great Big Sea
(Warner Music Canada, 1993)

Great Big Sea's self-titled debut is a lively example of the Newfoundland band's maritime roots. It can take some tracking down, especially outside of Canada, but it's worth the search. It's also fun to hear what the band (Alan Doyle on lead vocals and guitar, Sean McCann on lead vocals, bodhran and guitar, Darrell Power on bass and vocals, and Bob Hallett on accordion, fiddle, tin whistle, mandola and vocals) sounded like before the boys really started to stretch their legs and find their own original style. This album is definitely a still-budding Great Big Sea, but it oozes Newfoundland traditions more than anything the band has done since.

Traditional maritime songs and shanties like "Great Big Sea," "I'se the B'y," "Excursion Around the Bay" and "Drunken Sailor" dominate the album, spotlighting the band's cheerful disposition and setting the tone for future recordings.

The lively "What Are Ya At" pokes a bit of fun at the Newfies' peculiar way of addressing each other, while "Berry Picking Time" describes love found at harvest time. There are even some jig and reel sets to separate the songs.

There are also a few original ballads, like Doyle's political anthem, "Someday Soon," and "The Fisherman's Lament," a poignant tale of a passing lifestyle penned by McCann's father, Ed. Track down later albums Up and Play first. If you like what you hear, give Great Big Sea some attention.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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