The Tim Malloys,
If You Were Walking
(Fabulous, 1998)

I wasn't sure what to make of the Tim Malloys the first time I spun their disc. And it's unfortunate that the CD's liner notes provide so little information on the band, because it's hard to guess the musicians' origins. Sure, If You Were Walking was produced out of Minneapolis, but on some tracks this band sounds straight off the boat.

The Tim Malloys is a quartet featuring Adam Stemple (of Boiled in Lead fame) on acoustic and electric guitars and vocals, Neil Johnston on bass guitar, bodhran and vocals, John Sjogren on acoustic guitar and vocals, and Brian Smith on vocals, tin whistle and harmonica. Their sound is tight and highly varied, ranging from very traditional to rockin'.

A good share of the songs are of the same sort of nationalistic pride and fervor which might crop up in a Wolfe Tones performance, starting with the first track, a raucous "Say Hello to the Provos." This one is a fairly straightforward traditional interpretation, although Stemple adds a bit of punctuation now and again on electric guitar. There's a fast-paced, martial drum line supporting the otherwise a capella "Boys of the Old Brigade," and "Broad Black Brimmer" nearly bursts with pride.

There are some slower pieces, too, such as the wistful "Only Our Rivers," the traditional, electric guitar-laced "Spancil Hill" and the atmospheric, very American-sounding "Ride On." They also do a sparse, powerful version of U2's "Van Diemen's Land."

"Nancy Whiskey" has a bit of a down-home, old-timey flair, but it still would fit into any hard-drinkin' pub setting. "Raggle Taggle Gypsy" is played with an almost frantic pace. There's a Scots flair with songs like "The Leaving of Jamie Raeburn" and "Johnny Cope."

A real treat here is Stemple's original drinkin' song, "Whiskey was My First." It's a fun piece which encourages loudly singing along and serves as a sharp reminder to any woman who would force her Celtic husband to choose between her and his whiskey.

The Tim Malloys are a fine addition to the ranks of Celtic traditional/rock bands, and I hope to hear a lot more from them in the future.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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