The Prodigals,
Go On
(West Side, 1999)

This is it. Here is that CD with magic, spark, soul and some great sentiment.

I never heard of the Prodigals before I put Go On on the machine, and after reading their press I expected a cross between the Chieftains, Black 47 and the Pogues. For once they were right, but they underestimated the group even putting them into that company. This group has the musical talent of the Chieftains, the verve of the Pogues and the relevance of Black 47 to a modern audience.

I was gob-smacked by the audacity of a group to combine "Spancil Hill" with "Ghost Riders in the Sky," but I was delighted with the result. This was a magical, heart-pounding start to an album, and it did not let up.

"Alchemy" is a contemporary love song of lost love. It is a beautiful song well performed that will touch many hearts if they listen. "I will make my decisions with sufficient introspection, now I introspect away 'til there's nothing left to see."

This CD is so full of surprises that I can hardly remember them all. After "Spancil Hill" I was not sure what to expect of other old traditional favourites. I am used to Tommy Makem singing "Ballybay" and when the Prodigals opened it as a slow ballad I heard it as a new song. There are a few instrumental pieces on this CD and "Boru's Marches" is one that will tingle the fingers and move the feet of anyone who likes good traditional Irish music played with soul.

"Green Card" is another new piece that strikes a chord even today. It is, as you may have guessed, the story of the Irish emigrant trapped in the USA because he is illegal. He can work illegally but if he returns to Ireland for a visit he may never get back into America. "Ireland how I miss you once again this year, so I'll raise my glass and I'll take a chance and I'll see you all next year."

As you probably noticed, I love this CD. It would be worth the full price for one song, "Quart of Gin," which breaks all the rules and works like magic. It combines a number of styles and tunes. It goes at break-neck speed, then slows to a ballad and revs up to a march. In all of this it manages to tell a number of very real stories. The writing is simply great "I lift my head, look down the road, and ahead, behind's the same. When I start to run, I've just begun to go the way I came."

In 12 tracks the Prodigals give the listener a fantastic combination of new and old, with the traditionals given new life. This CD is exhausting to listen to at times because it packs so much punch. Thankfully, the production and diction is clear enough that we can hear the poetic words.

I don't know if readers are familiar with the Irish TV series Father Ted, but Mrs Doyle in that has a catch phrase, "go on, go on, go on, go on," to encourage a person to do something. I say go on buy Go On and experience traditional music in a new light.

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 24 August 2002

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