Greenland Whalefishers,
(Patchwork, 2001)

If Rambles allowed one-word reviews, the only one this CD would need is -- WOW!

Within seconds of this CD starting I stopped my player and took it off. I was 100% sure I had mistakenly put one of my Pogues albums on by mistake. But there was no mistake, the Greenland Whalefishers out-Pogues the Pogues.

The songs, the production, the inlay booklet all scream an Irish album, but this CD comes from Bergen, Norway, and the group consists of Agnes, Gunnar, Tommy, Orjan, Arvid, Odin and Stig. The booklet features some beautiful Irish imagery and the voice could be Shane McGowan. Make these points as a compliment to this fantastic group and their CD. This is not a tribute band, it is a wild and wonderful group AND they have written all the songs themselves -- no mean feat.

Many of the tunes have that slightly familiar sound but the words are new and top class.

The title track, "Loboville," sets the pace with what can only be described as a rollicking, driven song. "Johnny Lee Roth" is an unusual title but the song is fascinating. It begins like a song of perhaps a century ago, telling a tale with lines from many familiar Irish songs. But two minutes later it takes off at breakneck speed to leave even an armchair listener gulping for breath.

"Jane's Tragedy" shows the soulful side with a quieter and very thoughtful story in song, given extra pathos by some excellent musical backing. "July Morning" can only be described as manic. One can imagine the madness of an audience at a live performance -- something I would love to witness.

"The Mutineer" is another story song spanning centuries in five verses. What amazed me here was the 1:27 instrumental intro, which would stand out as a track by itself. "Elizabeth" is a fabulous fast-paced song, but with lyrics that most artists would sing as a sad ballad. The story itself is weird and wonderful, happy, sad and witty.

"Hole in Our Hearts" is the final track and has a sound completely different from the other songs featured here. It is unusual in that it's sung from the perspective of a band at the end of a concert or session. It amazes because after all the manic driven music, it slows everything down and features initially a single voice that changes to a choral singalong.

Loboville should feature an "Audience Advisory" label not only because almost every forbidden four-letter word surfaces at some time in the range of songs, it should also be kept away from grannies whose hips need to avoid foot-tapping, gents who should avoid excitement and anyone who sweats too easily. As I said -- WOW!

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 30 March 2002