Great Big Sea,
Rant & Roar
(Warner Music Canada, 1997)

Haven't we heard all this before? Yes. Great Big Sea's latest release, Rant & Roar, may disappoint long-time fans because it's merely a compilation of tracks from Up and Play. But don't despair: the album, the single "When I'm Up" and recent tours south of the border have earned the band some much-needed exposure in the United States, where hopefully they'll take their place among the most popular pseudo-Celtic bands. Rant & Roar isn't a greatest hits album (which would, I think, be just a bit premature at this point); it's a repackaging for mass release in the States, where Great Big Sea is only now catching on.

Sure, it's possible to quibble with their selections, but while there are a few tracks I think were wrongly overlooked, I'd have to agree that the tunes included provided an excellent introduction to the band. (See individual reviews of Up and Play for more on the music.)

Lead singer Alan Doyle told me at a recent performance on South Street, Philadelphia, that Great Big Sea's next album is tentatively scheduled for a June 1999 release. Afterwards, Doyle said a cross-Canada tour will be recorded for a future live album. That's grand news for anyone who's seen the band in concert. I've driven from Lancaster to Manhattan and Philadelphia (twice!) to see them, and every performance was well worth the trip. (Check out my review of the band's most recent live performance.)

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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If you like this band, be sure to check out:
Spirit of the West
Seven Nations