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E. Bradtke of Living Tradition

reviews Something to Show by Mick Ryan & Pete Harris

Since teaming up in 1993, Mick Ryan and Pete Harris have appeared at folk clubs and festivals around England and recorded several albums. This, their sixth, includes the usual mix of Ryan originals, traditional songs, and a few contributions from others. Their music has an English flavour, eloquently expressed by Ryans liquid voice and backed by Pete Harris the one?man?band (guitar, bouzouki, mandolin, mandola, banjo, bass and whistle as well as harmony vocals). Theyre joined on this outing by Paul Burgess (Old Swan Band): fiddle; Paul Sartin (Dr. Faustus, ex?Belshazzars Feast) oboe and Tim Van Eyken (Dr. Faustus, Waterson/ Carthy) melodeon.
It would be hard to go wrong with personnel like that. From the opening strains of the Ballad Seller (with The Maid Behind the Bar as an instrumental break) to a lament for the fallen at Waterloo, The Eighteenth of June, its a well balanced and well?performed collection. Ryan and Harris cover a wide range of material. The black comedy of Work, Work, Whens It Gonna Stop? would sound at home in the Music Hall. The Prince of Peace, a stirring anthem full of West Gallery style harmonies comes from Ryans show A Days Work. Ryans songs sound so traditional because theyre based on traditional themes or fragments of old songs, tales and poetry. One of these is the gruesome King Kaley. Spooky and full of gore, this unaccompanied song will send shivers down your spine. But by the second or third listening youll catch yourself singing along. A highly enjoyable recording.