Atlantic Favourites II
(Rocky Coast, 1998)
Atlantic Favourites II is, as its title suggests, a collection of Atlantic favorites by McGinty, a well-known and well-loved pub band. Most of these songs are well-known, though there are two new ones I hadn't heard before. There is a mix of serious ballads and lighthearted romps like "The Unicorn" (which is one of those songs you like as a kid and never grow out of). The general tone is lively and upbeat, excellent party music or as background to fun and conversation. Most of the songs are favourites, and it is great to have them all together in one collection.
The liner notes indicate that the CD was recorded in a studio (or in two different studios, to be precise), but it has the sound of a "live at the pub" recording. The vocals are good, but unfortunately none has the pure clarity and depth that can turn these songs into magic. Anyone who listens to East Coast music will have in their heads alternate versions of these songs that no one else can live up to. So, although the songs are great songs well sung, the band sets itself up for comparisons that are impossible to win every time.
The liner notes provide lots of interesting information on the songs, the musicians and the composers. They do not indicate who provides vocals on the various tracks, which was a bit disappointing. The tone and quality of the vocals is uneven, and I would have preferred to hear more from the singer of "Northwest Passage" than from the singer of "Getting Dark Again."
The accompanying musicians are lively and fun, with spoons, fiddles, button accordions, bodhrans and uileann pipes. It is easy to feel that one has wondered into a session, and it's easy to make oneself at home.
I am a little baffled at the inclusion of Don MacLean's "American Pie." The song is of most appeal to those 45-55 year olds who heard it on the first go-round, and this may indeed be the same group which comprise McGinty's biggest fan base, but it does seem a little incongruous in this collection.