Mike Everett of Mardles
reviews The Island of Apples by Mick Ryan & Pete HarrisHeres a duo that is very well known on the folk scene, whether its appearing at your local folk club or on the main stage at festivals like Sidmouth. Mick Ryan is a fine singer of traditional songs, as heard here on Cupids Garden and The Banks of the Bahn. But he is probably even better known as a writer of songs that are firmly rooted in the tradition. The title track tells the story of King Arthur; others deal with the Tolpuddle martyrs, villagers being evicted by the army, Tom Paine, Irish navvies, emigration all suitable themes for songs that will become folk standards in clubs up and down the country. One that has already become widely sung is the title song from Micks show, A Tolpuddle Man, written by Graham Moore. Mick is renowned for his more light-hearted songs such as The Widows Promise, and here he adds to this collection with Fresh Fish, where he has added the music and chorus to some comic verse written by his sister.
Micks musical partner, Pete Harris, is known for his playing with bands such as The New St George and the Bursledon Village Band. He provides stirring accompaniment on half a dozen different stringed instruments and whistle as well as sharing the vocals and being responsible for the arrangements of most of the duos material.
The last track is The Song Goes On, written in memory of Cyril Tawney; a fitting tribute and no better way to close an album.