| My Northern Friday 8 |

Cowboy Man – Lyle Lovett (Lyle Lovett)
The Beginning of the End – The Pleasures (Single)
South of the City – Corner House (How Beautiful It’s Been)
Murphys – Eliza Niemi (Single)
Men Without War – Boo Hewerdine (Understudy)
Bumpers – Belshazzar’s Feast (That’s All Folkies)
Thousands are Sailing – Planxty (Words and Music)
A White Shade of Pale – Procol Harum (Single)
Rocket Man – Elton John (Honky Chateau)
Wish Her Well – Emma Wilson (Wish Her Well)
Mags’ 21st – Corner House (How Beautiful It’s Been)
What in the World – Ewan Macintyre (Single)
Odd State – Like Mint (I Wish I Was Awake)
Momma – Corner House (How Beautiful It’s Been)
Fifth of You – The Lucky Ones (Slow Dance, Square Dance, Barn Dance)

Featured Album | Corner House – How Beautiful It’s Been | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson | 20.05.22

With a line-up that consists of Orkney-born fiddler Louise Bichan, mandolinist Ethan Setiawan, cellist Casey Murray and guitarist Ethan Hawkins, the Boston, Massachusetts-based quartet take their influences to new and interesting places, with an engaging album that seamlessly pulls together several musical strands, from both the band’s Irish and Scottish roots, to their broad Appalachian and bluegrass influences.  The songs and tunes here are certainly roots music at their core, yet the album is almost effortlessly infused with a distinctively contemporary feel.  The band is joined in places by Jordan Perlson on drums, Viktor Krauss (Alison’s bro) on double bass and minimoog, Maeve Gilchrist on clarsach and Eli Crews on nose flute.  After the release of the band’s first single “Mags’ 21st”, which came with a certain sense of familiarity, although sounding refreshingly new at the same time,  the vibrant instrumental effectively opened the doors to what was to follow shortly afterwards, an album of musical exploration and ingenuity that you will want to play again and again.

Flick the Dust Off | Planxty – Words and Music | WEA 240101-1 | 1983

Planxty was a band I first came across in the folk section of the rock press back in the early 1970s and therefore it instantly became a band I pretty much ignored until 1983, when Planxty reformed and released arguably their best album, coincidentally at a time when my folk buttons were being seriously pushed.  In one respect, Words and Music stands out due to the fact that it was the band’s final album before they called it a day for the second time, just after its release and then again, it just might stand out simply because it’s so good.  The band released six albums between 1973 and 1983, during their sporadic ten years together, when the core line-up consisted of Christy Moore, Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn, being joined occasionally by the likes of Matt Molloy, Johnny Moynihan and Bill Whellan among others, even Paul Brady at one point.  Words and Music has a fairly democratic presence, with Christy Moore taking care of Dylan’s “I Pity the Poor Immigrant” and “Lord Baker”, while Andy Irvine provides the traditional “Thousands Are Sailing” and a stunning arrangement of Si Kahn’s haunting “Aragon Mill”, which features some superb uilleann piping courtesy of Liam O’Flynn during its instrumental prelude “Accidentals”.

Singled Out | Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale | Deram DM126 | 1967

If the big question surrounding Procol Harum’s 1967 smash hit single “A Whiter Shade of Pale” was always along the lines of ‘what’s it all about then?’ – the short answer might possibly be, that it really doesn’t matter, certainly not for the band at any rate.  The songs’ bewildering lyrics helped give ther band their one and only number one smash, a song that went on to sell over ten million copies worldwide.  Basically written about a typical Swinging Sixties party, the song leans heavily towards Bach, while the mystifying lyric borrows from a variety of places, including Chaucer, party gossip and an obligatory girl leaves boy story.  None of this really matters as “A Whiter Shade of Pale” stands as a beautiful piece of psychedelia, its sole intention is perhaps to just wash over the listener, which in my case, it certainly does, and often, even fifty-five years on.

Fifty Years Ago | Elton John – Honky Chateau | DJM DJLPH 423 | May 1972

This is album number five for the famed British singer songwriter, released in 1972.  Following on from the previous year’s Madman Across the Water and just ahead of 1973’s Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player, Honky Château boasts a couple of hit singles, the New Orleans influenced “Honky Cat” and perhaps one of Elton’s biggest numbers “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to be a Long Long Time)”, which would go on to be used as the title of the dismal 2019 biopic, albeit reduced to two words ditching the cumbersome subtitle.  The album was recorded at the Château d’Hérouville, an 18th century French château fifty miles north of Paris and is remembered for being the first of Elton John’s major worldwide hit albums.  Ed Caraeff’s cover shot shows a rare bearded singer, looking somewhat moody and comparatively restrained, giving little in the way of any advanced warning as to the flamboyant superstar he would shortly become.

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