7 May 2005
Here's what's new at Rambles.NET, your best source on the Internet for
roots and traditional music, fiction, folklore and movie reviews!
Go to http://www.rambles.net to access the new edition and much, much
more! (Our archives contain more than 7,800 reviews, interviews and
other bits of excitement.) See you there!
Tanya Brody invites Sirens & Lovers to join her on her latest album,
which Jean Price describes as "a lovely collection of original and
traditional songs in a style resembling that of Loreena McKennitt. Her
arrangements and her original compositions are both inspired and fun to
listen to. The traditional songs have a definite Renaissance flavour to
them, which is not surprising since she began singing and continues to
sing at various fairs throughout the United States."
Mickey MacConnell demonstrates his Joined Up Writing on this album of
great Irish songs. "From the opening flute sound to the final chord on
track 11, this album will entrance you ... unless you're powered by a
heart of stone," Nicky Rossiter promises. "MacConnell has a gift for
making an epic song from the everyday events of everyday lives, and the
transformation of those people by events."
Joe Giltrap and Tom Paxton make short work of their collaboration, The
Bravest. "The three tracks here all deal with death and destruction in
varying degrees, but the whole is an uplifting experience," Nicky
The Duhks blend Celtic, country, folk and bluegrass on their
self-titled CD from Winnipeg, Manitoba. "I am thinking if Alison Krauss
had been born as fraternal twins in Ireland, we could have had the
Duhks much sooner," says Tom Schulte. "As it is, we are glad to have
this Canadian group now."
The Malvinas provide the Love, Hope & Transportation. "The musicianship
is excellent -- always tuneful, tasteful and spirited -- and the voices
are likeable and unpretentious," says Joy McKay. "The Malvinas are
exactly the kind of company you'd want for a drive across the continent
and Love, Hope & Transportation is an enjoyable ride all the way
CANO explores French-Canadian folk-pop on the classic Tous dans l'meme
Bateau. "While a few arrangements now sound dated, Rachel Paiement's
voice, Wasyl Kohut's violin and David C. Burt's electric guitar stand
out, as does Andre's lyric writing," says David Cox. "The record
promised more good things to come, and more was delivered."
The Nashville Bluegrass Band "is alive and well and healthy after 20
years," says Chet Williamson, "and this CD celebrating their two
decades together is one of their best, incorporating traditional
bluegrass and old-time songs and tunes while having one foot firmly
planted in the present." The subject at hand is the new Sugar Hill
release Twenty Year Blues -- be sure to check out Chet's full review!
Cyril Lance is coming to us Live from the Outskirts with this new
collection of blues. Carole McDonnell spun the disc and comes back with
a report on this excellent package.
The Unseen Guest is Out There for an album that blends guitars and
tablas, piano and mridangam, and Irish and Indian musicians. "Though
you'll hear hints of the familiar, the music they make is unusual,
primarily because of the blending of traditional Indian instruments
with Western structure," John Lindermuth reveals. "It's exotic and
pleasant, music you'll want to come back to time after time."
Raduza brings folk music from the Czech Republic with Pﬁi Mne Stuj
(Stand By Me). "Characteristically, the songs have considerable gusto,
although occasionally the singing does become a little forced," says
Andy Jurgis. "Although this is an album to be enjoyed especially by
people who enjoy the piano accordion, the distinctive singing and
songwriting will ensure that the album has wider appeal, too."
Earnest Gouge explores Native American legends in Totkv Mocvse/New
Fire: Creek Folktales. "Aside from its value as a work of Muskogee
literature, Totkv Mocvse offers in this translation what seems to be
the genuine 'feel' of the Creek story -- the rhythms and repeated
phrases almost give a sense of a narrative half spoken, half chanted,
while the unadorned presentation imparts immediacy within a larger
context," says Robert Tilendis. "The addition of the thoughtful and
very informative introduction and the equally illuminating prefaces to
each story, often pointing out parallels with other tribes and nations,
make this volume a must for anyone with an interest in Native American
Paul Andrew Hutton delves into the historical context of an iconic
American hero/villain in The Custer Reader. "The Custer Reader gathers
first-person narratives, essays, photographs and even a bit of fiction
to help us sort out insights into the life and legend of this
controversial historical figure," John Lindermuth says. "Whether seen
as the victim of the Little Big Horn, the villain of the Washita
massacre or, simply, another romantic character of the Wild West,
there's something more to learn about Custer in the pages of this book."
Cyril A. Reilly & Renee Travis Reilly offer An Irish Blessing. Benet
Exton says the book combines breathtaking photos with a new blessing
written in a traditional Irish style -- perfect for a gift or special
Steven Harper displays his Trickster tendencies with the third novel in
The Silent Empire series. "I devoured Trickster in less than a day,
finding it gripping stuff, entertaining, exciting and suspenseful,"
says Jenny Ivor, "with solid and believable characters and sufficient
backfill from the forward and the author throughout the story that I
did not miss out on any nuance or emotion due to being new to the
A notable lack among our science fiction reviews is the work of the
talented Robert A. Heinlein. Daniel Jolley tackles the problem with his
usual insight and skill, beginning today with The Puppet Masters, first
published in 1951. "This is not sociological science fiction, yet there
is much in that vein to draw one's eye," Dan says. "Certainly, a Cold
War influence can be felt in these pages, especially early on when it
seems all but impossible to tell who is an enemy and who is not."
Simon Brown concludes his Keys of Power trilogy with Sovereign, Daniel
notes, "and I have to say it is one of the most intense, absorbing
fantasy series I have ever read, evolving from an entertaining but
seemingly pedestrian fantasy adventure about an exiled prince into a
shockingly dark tale that left me wondering up through the very last
page just how things could possibly turn out in the end. ... I only
wish this series could have been expanded to some degree."
Gordon Van Gelder collects some of the best from Fantasy & Science
Fiction Magazine for In Lands That Never Were: Tales of Swords &
Sorcery. "This collection combines famous authors with new voices, the
hack-and-slash of Conan with the mysticism of magic," says Valerie
Frankel. "Some stories mock the cliches and subvert them, while others
invented the traditional styles decades before. This is a strong, well
thought-out collection with the best of action and sorcery."
Rich Shapero tackles drugs and the Alaskan wilderness in his novel Wild
Animus. "The book is supposed to deal with the issue of how far he
should go or if it is possible to go too far in pursuit of
enlightenment," George Schaefer says. "The lack of character
development makes it hard to really be all that concerned either way.
The characters were more interesting before they left Seattle to take
on the wild. It is hard to really grasp the tragedy of this maddened
Nelson DeMille explores the explosion of TWA Flight 800 in his
audio-novel Night Fall. "By this time, we have probably decided what
the truth is and won't be swayed by someone else's argument," says Wil
Owen. "Still, Night Fall is definitely an entertaining look at what
might have happened. ... For those conspiracy theorists types out
there, this book will be right up your alley."
Chet Williamson revels in the re-release of The Complete Crumb Comics,
Vol. 5, which recalls his younger days "in all their profane, obscene,
sexist, politically incorrect and utterly delightful glory." If you're
curious about the golden age of underground comics," Chet says, "I can
think of no better place to start than this volume. ... You'll find
explicit violence, explicit sex, a positive view of drug use and ever
so much more. You may gasp, you may laugh, you may be very offended,
but this is the stuff that I grew up on. I loved it then, and I love it
Michael Vance has a whimsical reaction to Flaming Carrot: Man of
Mystery. "For the uninitiated, Flaming Carrot Comics is about, well,
this guy in a six-foot-long carrot mask who, er, uh, well, heehee,
gosh, he's K-RAZY MAN!! ... Yep, there is no one like Flaming Carrot."
Daniel Jolley takes a look at The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy --
not the glossy remake currently on the big screen, but the 1982 version
filmed on a shoe-string budget. "You have to love the campy, cheap feel
to the whole production because it really seems to fit Douglas Adams so
well," Dan says. "As a young teenager accidentally discovering this
series on PBS, its effect on me was significant, opening up a whole new
world of science fiction and comedy before my very eyes. I doubt that
the series can have such a profound effect on anyone in today's more
modern world, and I fear that many will see the cheap special effects
and dismiss the show out of hand."
Tune in next week for Tom Knapp's review of the new Hollywood version.
Daniel also pays a visit to The Amityville Horror -- the 1979 version,
that is. "Certainly, this movie deserves a place in the collection of
all horror lovers, but it is far from epitomizing the best of the
genre," he says. "I am sure it proved much scarier for original
audiences back in 1979 than it does for we blood-and-gore inured
veterans of such macabre moviemaking today, especially since an air of
'truth' surrounded the events back then."
That's all for another day here at Rambles.NET. Do hurry back!