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Derek Gifford of Folk Northtwest

reviews Something to Show by Mick Ryan & Pete Harris

I’m not even going to attempt to review the performances on this CD because, if you have heard or seen Mick and Pete, you’ll know that their music  positively oozes with skill and professionalism; so it’s straight to the material.
This CD comprises a thoughtful mix of traditional songs and Mick’s own compositions written in traditional style. We start off with one of Mick’s songs called ‘The Ballad Seller’ inspired by a piece of prose in a collection of broadsheet ballads. Next it’s the traditional ‘Queen of the May’ a tune written and guitar accompaniment nicely arranged by Ian Palmer.
Other traditional songs include ‘Farewell My Dearest Dear’, ‘Jack Went A-Sailing’, ‘Two Brethren’, ‘The Eighteenth of June’, which has an added verse, and ‘The Grey Hawk’ the latter of which I liked particularly partly because it is a good song seldom performed.
Mick’s other own compositions include ‘Sons of the Land’ and ‘Prince of Peace’ both from his show ‘A Day’s Work’ about Hampshire farm labourers in the Great War.
‘King Kaley’ however was inspired by a folk tale and is described by Mick as a “bit of a ‘Hammer Horror’ ballad”! Blood and gore everywhere in this one!
The other two songs by Mick are the up tempo music hall style ‘Work, Work, When’s It Gonna Stop?’ and the title track ‘Something to Show’ which is not actually, in my humble opinion, the strongest song on the album.
To make up the fourteen songs presented there’s a fine song from Graham Moore’s folk opera of the same name called ‘The Last of England’ about, not surprisingly, emigrants and ‘Faithless Sally Brown’ (shame on her!) with words from a poem by Thomas Hood and Mick’s tune and chorus which is sung unaccompanied and therefore sounding more traditional than a truly traditional song!
Mick and Pete are joined on a few tracks by Wild Goose ‘regulars’ Paul Burgess (fiddle), Paul Sartin (oboe) and Tim Van Eyken (melodeon). As always the package is well presented with sleeve notes on the songs and near perfect