The Woods Band,
Music from the Four Corners of Hell
(Market Square, 2003)

Here it is, a rare gem from the folk tradition of Ireland. Terry Woods has been a pivotal figure in the resurgence of interest in folk music. First with Sweeney's Men (seen by many as the origins of electric folk), then Gay & Terry Woods, then Steeleye Span and on to the Pogues and now the Woods Band, he has retained an energy and love of the music that cannot be faked.

The album takes a mixture of old and new work. It gives vibrant new life to the old material that many have grown tired of. The self-composed material is fresh but still dipped deeply in the tradition. The style is a sort of toned-down Pogues, allowing the lyrics to waft through to great effect.

"The Spanish Lady" has never sounded so well. "Love on Tillery" brings us up to date on a marvelous song co-written by Woods. Ronnie Drew of the Dubliners joins them on a great rendition of "Dublin Jack of All Trades."

A song that is new to me but credited as traditional is the lovely "Terence's Farewell." The twanging guitar brings "Finnegan's Wake" to life and must sound great in a live set. Woods also wrote "DeValera's Green Isle," which looks at the reality of our land in the days when so many left the green land for the concrete of England.

A totally unexpected and mind-blowing track has to be "Sea of Heartbreak." I wondered where it came from and then realized that this is one of those pop music hits that would have been played repeatedly when Woods was gigging with the best of folk-rock bands and they probably included their version in the sets.

The album closes with a fantastic version of the song "Leave Her Johnny Leave Her."

This album is a must-have for anyone with an interest in true folk music. It will help the old folkies relive a vanished era and let new listeners experience why folk revived in the late 1900s. Congratulations to all concerned.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 21 May 2005

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