Album Review: Runrig – The Cutter and the Clan

Runrig were formed on the Isle of Skye in 1973. Their style of music can be termed Celtic Rock, Folk Rock, influenced by traditional Gaelic music and the pop revolution of the 60’s they grew up with. Their first album Play Gaelic (NA 105) was released in 1978 and was sung entirely in Gaelic. Calum and Rory MacDonald write most of the songs.

On Runrig’s following albums The Highland Connection Ridge Records (RR001) 1979, Recovery Ridge Records (RR002) 1981 and Heartland Ridge Records (RR005) 1985, all released on their own label, the brothers began writing also in English. This developed more as time went by.  In their writing there is a sense of place, tradition, a love of your homeland. Relationship with nature, the environment and immigration are themes that permeate their songs. You can feel the heart in their playing, a richness in the vocals.

The Cutter & the Clan is the 5th album from the band. It was released in 1987, originally on their own label Ridge Records (RR008), like their previous three albums. They had arrived at a point where there was a confidence in their writing and performance. The press and various record companies were showing an interest in the band. A worldwide deal was signed with the Chrysalis label providing a springboard for their music. The Cutter & The Clan was re-released (CHR 1669), followed by a live album, Once in a Lifetime.

The Cutter & The Clan (track listing):

Side one :  Alba, The Cutter, Hearts of Olden Glory , Pride of the Summer, Worker for the Wind.

Side two :  Rocket to the Moon, The Only Rose, Protect and Survive, Our Earth was Once Green, An Ubhal as Airde.

Album produced by : Chris Harley.

Band Members:

Donnie Munro : vocals,  Rory MacDonald : vocals /harmonies, bass, acoustic guitar, accordion, Malcolm Jones : guitars, bagpipes, mandolin, Peter Wishart : keyboards, backing vocals, Iain Bayne : drums, percussion, Calum MacDonald : percussion, backing vocals.

Alba : written in Gaelic by Calum and Rory. On the flight returning to your home place (Scotland), the high mountains, the glens, the houses and seeing the landscape changed.

The Cutter : written by Calum and Rory. Thoughts on immigration to Canada, returning home on a visit to your people and place.

Hearts of Olden Glory : written by Calum and Rory. Walking, reflecting with a sense of healing. ‘Where hearts of olden glory grow young’

Pride of the Summer: written by Calum. Reflecting back on youth. ‘It’s good to be young and daring’

Worker for the Wind : written by Calum and Rory. Thoughts on working with the land. The importance of having and knowing love.

Rocket to the Moon: written by Calum and Rory, The open landscape, the changes brought by enterprise, the railroads, the closing shipyards. Immigration and the blooming of new lives made.

The Only Rose : written by Calum And Rory. A song about being away, loneliness, Thinking of being with and missing someone.

Protect and Survive: written by Calum. Out in the open, reflecting, coming to see what matters.

Our Earth was Once Green: written by Calum and Rory. Damage done to the environment and nature. ‘But mountains are holy places and beauty is free’

An Ubhal as Airde: written in Gaelic by Calum. Standing, aware of the abundance that is here, and the apple of knowledge that will be reached.

Runrig went on to have a fruitful relationship with Chrysalis remaining with the label until 1996. They continued their musical journey, releases again on their own label, until they announced their final tour The Final Mile in 2017. On 18 August 2018, open air at Stirling Castle, Runrig played their final concert after 45 years of music. A performance celebrating a lifetime of song was released titled The Last Dance as a CD set and on DVD.

by Dave Burke

The Cutter and the Clan is available to borrow from Cork City Libraries along with many of their albums.

Memories of Jim Capaldi

I first became aware of Jim Capaldi (singer-songwriter, musician) when I read an article about him in the magazine, Words record song book in 1978. The article was relating to the release of his new album The Contender.

On checking in town I found the album in Uneeda Bookshop on Oliver Plunkett Street which was to become an old haunt of mine to this day. During the present pandemic, John who has run the shop since the beginning originally at No.66 decided to retire and close the shop. Many memories will remain of a special place.

I began researching the back catalogue of Jim Capaldi and the more familiar I became with his music the more he became an influence and inspiration in my life.

He was born in Evesham, Worcestershire on 2 August 1944 into a musical family. Both his parents were performers and his father was a music teacher. His interest in music was encouraged and he learned piano and drums. He began playing in local bands from the age of 14, the Sapphires, the Hellions, Revolution and Deep Feeling.

He struck up a friendship with Steve Winwood, of the Spencer Davis Group, who were successful with songs like Keep On Running and Gimme Some Lovin’. They began talking about creating music together and with Dave Mason (who had been in the Hellions with Jim) and Chris Wood (sax and flute) formed what was to become Traffic. They were to rent a cottage in Berkshire and began writing what was to become their debut album Mr. Fantasy released in December 1967 following on from the single Paper Sun.

During their career they developed a style that was to encompass Rock, Folk, Psychedelic, Blues, Jazz and World music. Winwood was the main music writer and Capaldi the lyricist.

These are just a few of their songs: Dear Mr. Fantasy, No Face No Name No Number, The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys and from their reunion album of 1994 Far from Home (dedicated to Chris Wood who had passed away in 1983), State of Grace and Holy Ground (featuring Davy Spillane).

Jim had begun recording solo albums before Traffic broke up in 1974. He had a hit with It’s All Up to You in 1974 and a top 5 success with a cover of the Everly Brothers song Love Hurts the following year. His first three fine albums have recently been reissued as a box set titled Open your Heart, The Island Recordings 1972- 1976, with a bonus DVD of The Old Grey Whistle Test performances from 1975 and 1976.

I remember the 1976 performance being shown on RTE 2 on 23/06/1979 and going down the North Main Street to get a cassette recorder to tape it, memories returning. Now I can watch it any time I like.

Jim released his album Electric Nights in 1979 and was to follow it with eight more solo albums, each containing songs which remain with me to this day.

Here are just a few: I’ll Keep Holding On, Man With No Country, Living On a Marble, Old Photographs, Favella Music, You and Me, Gifts of Unknown Things, Let Me Make Something in Your Life (on the first Steve Winwood solo album)

The Eagles also had success with Love Will Keep Us Alive on their Hell Freezes Over album in 1994 which Jim wrote with Paul Carrack and Peter Vale.

He reunited with Dave Mason in 1998 and a live album The 40,000 Headmen Tour was released.

The four original members of Traffic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the 15 March 2004.

If you had asked me in 1978 who I would most like to meet it would be Jim Capaldi. Years later when attending a concert remembering Clifford T Ward in the English Midlands, a friend Roy introduced me to Clive Edwards, who was performing at the event. While chatting he mentioned being friends with Jim’s brother Phil.

As fate would have it Jim was to play an intimate gig in the Marrs Bar in Worcester on Sunday 16 November 2003. Our friends Roy and Clive, my brother Michael and I attended a special night to remember. We were there for the soundcheck and during the gig the band were joined by Steve Winwood. Afterwards we met and chatted with Jim. Dreams Do Come True.

While checking the teletext on the night of 28 January 2005 I read that Jim Capaldi had died of stomach cancer, aged 60. It was hard to believe. I recall ringing my brother and reliving the memories.

Jim married Brazilian born Aninha in 1975, they had two daughters Tabitha and Tallulah. Aninha organised a tribute concert in his memory Dear Mr. Fantasy – A Celebration for Jim Capaldi at the Roundhouse in Camden, London on Sunday 21st January 2007. Many well known music friends of Jim were to perform at the event.

The concert raised funds for the charity Jubilee Action supporting the underprivileged children of Brazil. Jim’s social and environmental concerns can be clearly seen in his writing. It was a memorable night, shared with my friends, standing close to the stage celebrating the man and his music. The Roundhouse celebration concert was released on DVD and also a 2cd set.

In 2011 Dear Mr Fantasy – The Jim Capaldi Story, One of Rock’s Great Untold Stories was released. A 4 disc box set spanning his entire career, with extensive liner notes, photos and essays.

The following year the third tribute Mr Fantasy – The Lyrics of Jim Capaldi was released. Jim had been gathering his favourite lyrics together and writing notes to go with them. One of his last wishes was for Aninha to complete what he had started. The book included a facsimile of his hand written lyrics with photographs and new commentary from musicians and friends. Released by Genesis Publications it was a limited edition of 900 copies worldwide.

Welcome to the music of Jim Capaldi.

Explore  –  Enjoy

by Dave Burke

Dear Mr Fantasy is available in DVD and CD along with other albums by Jim Capaldi from Cork City Libraries

Poco – An Appreciation

Poco, a groundbreaking American Country Rock outfit, were formed following the breakup of Buffalo Springfield in 1968. The original members were Richie Furay, Jim Messina, Rusty Young, George Grantham and Randy Meisner. The band saw many members leave over the years forming new bands. Randy (later a founding member of the Eagles) left just before their first album Pickin’ Up The Pieces was released in 1969. He was replaced by Timothy B Schmit.

Later Jim Messina left in 1970 and with Kenny Loggins had success as Loggins & Messina. Messina was replaced by Paul Cotton . Richie Furay was next to leave, and with John David Souther and Chris Hillman formed what was billed as a supergroup, the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band in 1974. They had two albums.

Indian Summer is the tenth studio album by Poco and to this day remains one of my all time favourites.

The album was released in May 1977 on ABC Records (ABCL 5220) and was produced by the band and Mark Henry Harman.

Band members: Paul Cotton, George Grantham, Timothy B Schmit and Rusty Young.  

Each member sing lead and background vocals, which gave them great variety.

Paul played (Lead acoustic and electric guitars), George (drums and percussion), Timothy (bass guitar & harmonica) and Rusty (acoustic and electric guitar, lead steel guitar, banjo and mandolin)

Track listing : 


Side Two : LIVING IN THE BAND, STAY (Night Until Noon), FIND OUT IN TIME, THE DANCE : When The Dance Is Over, Go On And Dance, Never Gonna Stop/When The Dance Is Over (reprise)

Album title track : Indian Summer written by Paul –  You can feel the heat of laid back summer days. Paul’s lead vocal sets the tone. Great lead guitar from Paul and steel from Rusty. 

Twenty Years written by Paul – One of my all time favourite Poco tracks. Reflections on life, ‘All I had to do was play’ lead vocal Paul. Duelling lead guitars from Paul and Rusty. A track driven along by the drumming of George and bass of Timothy.       

Me and You written by Timothy – lead vocal Timothy, harmony George and Paul. Easy country feel with featured solos from Rusty on steel and Paul guitar.

Downfall written by Rusty – lead vocal Rusty. the track motors along with guitars, drums and bass. Fine harmony vocals from George and Timothy. Rocky interplay again between Rusty and Paul. 

Win or Lose written by Paul – lead vocal Paul. ‘you’re the only one left to choose, what you want to win or lose’. A track with a bit of a funky feel, drums kick it on and building up, as it progresses harmony vocals join in.

Side Two : Living In The Band written by Paul – A song about the formation of Poco where they were from and seeing them live. Two from Colorado (George and Rusty), Texas (Jim Messina), Nebraska (Randy Meisner) and Ohio (Richie Furay). Paul and Timothy joined the band later. Drums, percussion and bass to the fore with solos from Paul and Rusty and George and Timothy adding harmony vocals. 

Stay (Night Until Noon) written by Timothy and Noreen Schmit – lead vocal Timothy. harmony Paul and George.  This track has a bright Country Rock feel with a nice middle eight, driven along by George on drums with Paul on lead guitar and Rusty on steel and banjo.

Find Out In Time written by Timothy and Robbin Thompson – lead vocal Timothy. You can see why Timothy was to join the Eagles as his vocals adds so much to their overall sound, following in the footsteps of original Poco bass player Randy Meisner. This track has an acoustic, laid back open feel. Timothy on harmonica.  Lovely harmony vocals join in from George and Paul. Rusty on steel, banjo and mandolin with Paul adding jazz lead guitar.

The Dance:  When the Dance is Over, Go On and Dance, Never Gonna Stop, When the Dance is Over (Reprise) .                           

Written by Rusty. Lead and background vocals George, Paul and Timothy. This is an adventurous track, with three songs strung together. An acoustic intro then rocking out. Sections linked by rocking guitars, with bass guitar moving it along nicely and harmony vocals throughout. Orchestra joins in as the track builds up to a rocky outro Reprise.

Tune in and enjoy Indian Summer and discover one the finest Country Rock bands whose pioneering music was to influence many who followed in their tracks.

Dedicated to the memory of Rusty Young who passed away 21 April 2021 and Paul Cotton on 1st August 2021.

Heartfelt thanks to Rusty and Paul for special times, music to treasure.

by Dave Burke

Music by Poco is available to borrow from Cork City Libraries and on Freegal

Seven Tips for using Naxos Music Library with your Cork City Libraries Card

Naxos Music Library is the most comprehensive collection of classical music available to stream online, and it’s free to use with your Cork City Libraries card. Along with over 2.5 million tracks to listen to from 940 labels, it also provides access to notes from CD booklets, the libretti and synopses of hundreds of operas and thousands of composer and artist biographies. It also contains a number of additional Resources, especially useful for music teachers and students as described below. To get started, simply click on the Naxos logo and enter your 14-digit library barcode.

1. Explore New Music

While the Rory Gallagher Music Library is closed to physical access at the moment, Naxos Music Library unlocks access to their vast collection of tracks, all available to listen to individually or as part of whole albums (with no ads!). The New and News section provides weekly updates of all Recent Additions and New Releases. In the People section, you can browse alphabetically by Composer or Artist, or you can use the Search box to type in a surname. If you’re looking for a specific work, you can use the Keyword Search, with its included Search Tips. Advanced Search enables searching by fourteen different categories, including year of composition, instrumentation, category and duration; very useful for those programming concerts for the future!

2. Send Recommendations to your friends, students, choir members, colleagues

Naxos Music Library allows you to create static URL links of individual tracks or whole albums, which you can then send to others to access with their Cork City Libraries card. Just click on the Select box for an individual track or album and choose the Show Static URL option. Then copy and paste that link into an email to send it to your contact, who can then open it when logged in with their Cork City Libraries card. Music Teachers – this is a very useful way to share and recommend music to your students, especially now in these times of teaching and learning online. Choir members and directors – this is a good option for considering and preparing repertoire for when you can next meet in person!

3. Extension of the Classroom – For Music Teachers

Under Resources, the Aural Training section provides access to Listen!, which is “designed as an aid for those involved in teaching aural perception skills, either to school classes or individual students”. Whether you’re a music teacher or a student revising your Aural Skills before an exam, this comprehensive resource is for you. The exercises are organised by increasing difficulty, from the beginner to advanced levels. One of the most useful elements of this section is that the audio clips are included for each question, so these can be played easily in a class or one-to-one music lesson, or indeed in teaching and learning online classes at the moment. The Guided Tours section as described below will also be useful for you.

4. Research – For Music Students

If you’re working on research on a certain composer for an assignment, you can use the Dictionary section for the Naxos Dictionary of Music, an excellent reference tool focusing on musical terms, composers and instruments; many with accompanying audio and manuscript examples. The Musicology section links to Naxos Musicology International, an online platform for music scholarship similar to a traditional journal.  The Work Analyses section as described below will also be useful for you, and you can compare versions of a specific work recorded by different performers very easily.

5. Music Appreciation – Keep Learning

For those seeking to expand their knowledge of classical music repertoire, the Resources section includes Guided Tours of the Baroque Era, Classical Era, Romantic Era and the 20th Century. These sections outline the features and key composers and works of each Era with links to recommended recordings. The Work Analyses section contains in-depth analysis of core classical works, all written by named musicologists. These are suitable for both advanced level students and also for anyone seeking to explore a work or a composer in greater detail. Notation examples and audio clips are provided throughout, which bring all your learning tools together in one place, so that you don’t have to go and look for recordings separately.

6. First Introduction to Classical Music – Junior Section

If you’re teaching music to young children or would like to play music for children at home, the Junior Section (also under Resources) is for you. All the children’s favourites are brought together in the Stories section, from Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf to Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals. There is also full access to The Story of Classical Music audiobook, read by Aled Jones. The Music for Children section lists a number of CDs entitled Music for Kids: Songs to Sing from the Naxos Educational label, and also a number of albums featuring children’s choirs, very useful for those seeking new repertoire for their school choirs.

7. Rediscover old favourites, and create your soundtrack for the day!

The Categories section Includes Orchestral, Opera, Chamber Music, Vocal, Choral, Film & TV Music and more. To set up your own Playlists, just click on the Student / Member Account Sign Up option on the Playlists page and create your own free personal account with your email address and password. You can then add tracks from anywhere on the site to your Playlists in your personal Folders. To get started, here is a very topical album for these times, just click and log in now!

WORK FROM HOME – Classical Music for Peace and Calm (Dennis, Hill, Hurst, Johnson, Kazandjiev, Landor, Marturet, Rezucha, Rolla)

Caitríona Honohan, Executive Librarian, Frank O’Connor Library, Mayfield

The Bad Penny Review: Tayo Sound’s Runaway

Tayo Oyekan, stage name Tayo Sound, is an up-and-coming act from the UK who has made his mark with a charming, frank and slickly produced five-track debut EP entitled ‘Runaway’, produced by Courage. Despite his age, 18-year old Oyekan has already been playing his craft for years, having quit school at 16 to busk full-time in his hometown of Reading, and began writing music when he was 9, penning his first single ‘Broken’ when he was just 14. He has already demonstrated great skill in songwriting and music production and is an act that will surely continue his upward trajectory in the UK and international music scene.

The project begins with lead single, “Cold Feet”, released in June last year, and sets the overall tone for the project both narratively and sonically. The track is a groovy slice of sophisticated pop, detailing the story of the artist’s first relationship and the conflicting emotions that went with it. Funky clipped guitar and full-toned drums form the base of the song, while smooth bursts of synth punctuate the melody, creating the kind of hypnotic groove that will have you instantly swaying to the beat.

From quiet beginnings the excellent “Someone New” continues to build layers of instrumentation and vocal harmony to great effect. Oyekan’s delivery is the cornerstone of the track, the melody using a tight rhythm that propels the song forward, to head-banging effect. Sweeping waves of synth and killer bass lines all fall away during the breakdown in the latter half of the song. Leaving the strong vocal performance and breezy backing vocals to stand up on their own, before building towards a somehow melancholy yet joyous finale.

“Gone” is a blissfully chilltrack with its roots in low-fi and DIY music. “I swear, I feel you everywhere, like a whisper in the air, oh, please” coos the gentle melody line, with weighty drums and gentle finger-picked guitar driving the track. Expansive synths are used sparingly throughout and release the tension created by Oyekan’s soft bouncing vocals and musical breaks, giving the song plenty of punch.

The title track “Runaway” further displays Oyekan’s pop sensibilities with relentlessly catchy melodies, smooth bass and dainty synths and percussion. The lyrics depict a young relationship in a tailspin, “If we pretend, then we’ll be fine for a couple days/Until a couple more fights before I lose you”, he laments as the track mesmerises with sunny guitar riffs and shimmering layers of bright production.

Closing the EP is the tumultuous “Heartbreaker”, a short track based around percussive instrumentation and vocals. The actual drums sit further back in the mix than the other tracks, being mostly absent in the verses, while Oyekan lets loose a prolonged refrain in the chorus. During the track Oyekan questions the titular ‘heartbreaker’ asking finally “Are you mine or are you gone?”, leaving the resolution unclear to the listener.

Overall the project is a fine collection of tracks that demonstrate Oyekan’s musicianship and songwriting skill. The EP is full of moments of uncertainty and inner doubt that accompanies early relationships. Oyekan chooses not to hide from these moments, instead presenting what feels like a true rendition of his feelings at the time. The narrow thematic focus allows the songs space to breathe while the lyrics show us conflicting feelings and seek to create a complex emotional portrait of the relationship at its core.

Now available to borrow from the Rory Gallagher Music Library and to stream and download on Freegal, using your library membership:

By John Hayes

Hit the Road Jack! | Freegal Top Ten Songs to Escape With

by Conor McHale

January was never the easiest month to begin the year with grey skies and chilly temperatures. As if that were not enough the country is enduring yet another national lockdown and we are all told to stay at home and not to venture out beyond 5k of our homes. As we wait in the hopes of returning to normality perhaps a welcome distraction would be compiling playlist for our listening pleasure and what better theme could there be than listening to songs about hitting the road by whatever means necessary, venturing out to the far reaches and leaving all our woes behind. Here are just a few available on the Freegal app that can get you started:

Listen to the full playlist on Freegal

We got to get out of this Place: The Animals
This was a very popular song with soldiers during the Vietnam War. Although not written about that conflict it is a song that resonates to this day and can be applied to any situation. We’re all feeling restricted at present and this sentiment is very much at the back of our minds.

Leaving on a Jet Plane: John Denver
Close your eyes and picture yourself heading down to Cork airport and heading off to sunnier climes. The song was written appropriately by Denver while on layover at Washington airport.    Another Denver classic Take me Home Country Roads evokes West Virginia although he had never been and was inspired by a picture postcard. For Denver West Virginia seemed so far away and exotic it may as well have been in Europe.

Born to Run: Bruce Springsteen
An early anthemic classic from The Boss. Written when he was only 24 it has become a staple of his live shows ever since. It’s a song about roaring down open highways and never turning back.

Come Fly with Me: Frank Sinatra
Another song to tempt one away to warmer locales.  It is a song that heralded the “Jet Set” when travel by plane was seen as something enjoyed by only wealthy people who could afford to travel for pleasure. Michael Buble also does a version of this song.

Freedom ’90: George Michael
George Michael actually wrote this about his experience of trying to get out of his contract with Sony Music, but it became a huge hit.  It feels like a song about bursting out of our confines and going wherever we choose.

Get Away: George Ezra
Ezra wrote this about his anxiety at where to go next after finishing his first album. It’s a common feeling especially during these uncertain times when we all want to get away.

On the Road Again: Willie Nelson
Yet another airplane related song in a sense as this was hastily written on the side of a sick bag on a flight for a little remembered film called Honeysuckle Rose. However, the song itself subsequently became one of Nelson’s signature tunes.

Chattanooga Choo Choo: Glenn Miller
A different mode of transportation this time. Miller is best remembered for his Big Band swing tunes such as In the Mood and Moonlight Serenade, this tune was inspired by the steam locomotive that travelled from Cincinnati to Chattanooga.

Down the Highway: Bob Dylan
This time we are on foot. Dylan released his second album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan in 1963 which contained well known tracks like Blowin’ in the Wind and Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall. This is lesser known song being a stark blues about” walkin’ down the highway with a suitcase in my hand.”

Hotel California (Live): The Eagles
After all this travelling it would be nice to stay in a luxury hotel. Except Hotel California is a state of mind! For the Eagles the song was their interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles. This is their most recognised song and this is a superb live version.

The Bad Penny Review | Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Fiona Apple’s surprise LP marks a return after an 8 year gap between albums. It is a percussive, complex, and technically superb album that was produced in Apple’s home, often using iPhone recordings and GarageBand. Spontaneity drives the core of the album; you can hear the songs evolving as you listen. This is intentionally unintentional, during the album’s production Apple stresses that she focused on letting the songs develop during the recording process. Choosing to let improvisation fill in the missing space and working with the music rather than planning it all down to the nth degree. Her poetic and sharp lyricism binds the whole experience together, in a whirl of rhythm, melody and powerful honesty.

The album opens with the powerful, storming track, “I Want You To Love Me”, driven by a piano part that swells and shifts in a hypnotic fashion. Apple broods on the passing of time and the need to be loved, before letting the song unravel towards a bizarre frenzied conclusion. On the next track, the stand-out “Shameika”, Apple begins to explore themes relating to her relationship with women in her life, as she sings passionately about feelings of isolation and being bullied in school, but as the chorus hits, Apple affirms in a moment of calm, “Shameika said I had potential”. This reflects an actual interaction that Fiona had when she was in middle school where a classmate, and namesake of the song, reached out to her. The song ponders how this interaction impacted Fiona and reflects on how help can arrive in unexpected circumstances.

The title track explores the central theme of the album, which as Apple puts it is, “Fetch the f******* bolt cutters and get yourself out of the situation that you’re in — whatever it is that you don’t like”. With stripped back instrumentation and a passionate, charismatic performance Apple invites the listener to sit down and examine the bad situations in our lives and encourages us to break free. This is also explored in the defiant and playful “Under the Table”.

The haunting yet rousing track, “Newspaper” delves into how shared yet private pain can evoke feelings of closeness while it can also lead to feelings of isolation, as Apple lays bare the way in which the man in the song has created division between herself and another woman. This is accompanied by abrasive drums and powerful vocals, the instrumental and melody refusing to stand still. Continuing with themes of division is the stellar “Ladies”, where Apple tackles the ways in which women are pitted against each other by men, particularly in the case of infidelity. Examining how blame and negative emotions are often not directed at the man who cheated, but at who he was cheating with. The use of repetition and the ever diverse intonations on the word ladies, give the impression that Apple is bringing you in and sitting you down for a chat and perhaps an intervention

Throughout its runtime, Apple deals with situations and feelings that are sensitive for people and often can hit too close to home. With a fine lens Apple reflects the nature of the world we find ourselves in. This is hugely apparent in the uncompromising “For Her”. It is a tale of a woman who has been a victim of sexual assault but the man who abuses her does not see it as abuse. Rationalizing his actions and claiming to be defending them from other dangers, leading the abused to question their own feelings. Discussing the song, Apple said she wanted “primary colors. I don’t want any half measures.” choosing to be literal and specific as she felt “it’ll be important to the people it matters to.” These choices pay off in an affecting and powerful song that leaves no punch pulled.

Other tracks continue to delve deep, “Heavy Balloon” is a stormer of a song, with its brash rhythm section and sauntering vocal performance that, much like the title track from John Martin’s ‘Solid Air’, ruminates on the feeling of weight that bears down on people with depression. The chorus is a roaring affirmation that Apple will be alright, likening herself to the way that plants can store energy and release, spreading throughout a garden. Similarly, the track “Cosmonauts”, which had originally been penned for Judd Apatow movie, This is 40,but did not appear on the soundtrack, grapples with the possibility and impossibility of monogamy. Locking the characters in the song in a small space vessel and putting their friction and their love on display, while the chorus latches onto the feelings of hope for the relationship.

The album is kind, brutal and exceedingly honest. It is a record of revelation and exploration, which asks us to pull back the covers and examine the life and situations that surround us, leading to absorbing listening. Pairing these themes with great songwriting, crisp production and superb vocal performances, Fiona Apple has created an inventive and earnest record that will stay glued to my mind for the foreseeable future.

Now available to borrow from the Rory Gallagher Music Library and to stream and download on Freegal, using your library membership:

By John Hayes

Online Musical Treats This January

Happy New Year to all our Rory Gallagher Music Library patrons. Unfortunately, we face another national lockdown meaning the libraries are closed for now. However, we have a couple of online musical treats for you to enjoy in the comfort of your own homes.

We hope you enjoy a special online version of the popular Music Recital formerly known as the Gramophone Circle. Philip Brennan introduces a variety of his favourite compositions sung by the likes of Richard Tauber, Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli and Majella Cullagh with the Cork Youth Chamber Orchestra:

Watch local musicians Jimmy Morrison and Joe O’Sullivan (known as Ceol Coolroe) online as they play a selection of traditional songs and tunes:

Don’t forget you can access a range of online services such as the Freegal music app using your library card and four digit pin number:

Hope to see everybody soon!

Conor MacHale

January 2021.

Top Ten Christmas Songs from Freegal

by Conor MacHale

Normally this time of year as the festive season approaches we would be wheeling out the trolley packed with all the Christmas music for our patrons to borrow. However, as the library remains closed for the time being there is an alternative to accessing a great variety of Christmas music by streaming and downloading all the festive hits on the Freegal app. You can also create playlists in the My Music section so you can stream your favourite Christmas tunes and shuffle them in any random order. Here are a few to get the party started:

Dean Martin: Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!
Written by Sammy Cahn who wrote it in California during a heat wave, naturally, this is a festive favourite covered by many singers from Frank Sinatra to Michael Buble. Dean Martin’s sublime laid back vocals make this version stand out.

Bing Crosby: White Christmas
This has been recorded by artists as disparate as Perry Como and Iggy Pop. One of the most popular and well known renderings is by Bing Crosby whose version is one of the highest selling singles of all time. It remains one of the most recognisable of all Christmas songs

Miley Cyrus & Mark Ronson feat Sean Ono Lennon: Happy Xmas ( War is Over)
2020 marks 40 years since the death of John Lennon so it is fitting his son Sean features on this version of his Christmas single.

London Fox Children’s Choir: Walking in the Air
A well known Christmas song from The Snowman, this is given a choral treatment by the London Fox Children’s Choir who also perform arrangements of many well known Christmas carols such as Deck the Halls and Away in a Manger .

Christmas Carols: O Holy Night
Plenty of carols can be streamed and downloaded. Written in 1847, this remains today one of the most popular of all carols.

Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song
Of the many yuletide songs recorded by Nat King Cole, this is a stand out song written by Mel Tormé and Robert Wells. Although there are many versions by Perry Como and Frank Sinatra, Cole’s rendition remains a most popular favourite.

Wham: Last Christmas
Beaten to the No. 1 spot in 1984 by Do They know it’s Christmas by Band Aid, this nevertheless remains a pop Christmas favourite. It’s available on multiple compilation albums as well as the recent Last Christmas film soundtrack. The music video can also be downloaded on Freegal.

The Ronettes: Sleigh Ride
Produced by Phil Spector at the heights of his “Wall of Sound” period in the mid 1960s. Check out the Now That’s What I Call Christmas completion for this and many other favourites.

Ella Fitzgerald: Winter Wonderland
A perfect jazz number for the Christmas, this version recorded by Ella Fitzgerald is the most known and a rightful addition to any Christmas song list.

Elvis Presley: Blue Christmas
This was recorded in 1957 at the height of Elvis’s Rock n’ Roll fame. He also recorded a version with the country singer Martina McBride for his ’68 comeback special.

A lot of these songs appear on various compilations thus leading you onto many other Christmas favourites. Note, whole albums can be saved onto your Christmas playlist instead of just picking random songs.

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Top Ten Feel -good Songs from Freegal

by Conor Machale

Although the Rory Gallagher Music Library is closed for the duration of Lockdown, there is a great way of listening to music on your device by downloading the Freegal app. You can stream music by numerous artists on your device and download a limited number of songs every week to build up your own library of music. All you have to do is download the app and register with your Cork City Library card.

Get started here:

For some inspiration to keep the mood upbeat and happy here are some feel-good songs available to stream on Freegal:

Katrina and the Wailers: Walking on Sunshine

This song appears on about every feel-good songs list out there. An 80s classic that will sweep away the cobwebs on a winters day. There is also a cover version from the film soundtrack of the same name by Leona Lewis et al.

Bill Withers: Lovely Day

The late Bill Withers left a legacy of great songs like Ain’t no Sunshine and Lean on Me. Lovely Day is one of his stand out classics that will instantly brighten your day and is just a great chill out tune. Check out too some fine cover versions by singers such as Clarence Carter and Jimmy Lee.

Pharrell Williams: Happy

This infectious tune is a more recent stand out song that was played everywhere in recent years and is one of the most popular songs of the last decade.  You can find a live version of the song too. Impossible not to clap along to!

Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars: Uptown Funk

Another recent chart topper Uptown Funk is produced by Mark Ronson who is responsible for Valerie with Amy Winehouse and Oh My God with Lilly Allen. This tune dominated the charts in 2014 and is still as fresh today. As well as this version there is a neat acapella recording by Tommy Musso along with a workout mix to add to your fitness playlist.

Prince: Let’s go Crazy

There has to be a bit of Prince on any of these lists and here is a great tune that will liven up any situation.  As with many artists on Freegal there is an array of rare recordings and live albums and so here there is a cracking live version on the Purple Reign Live from New York album.

Chubby Checker: The Twist

A new dance craze was popularised in the 1960s with this song. Push back the furniture and do the Twist. For nostalgia fans there is a great collection on the Sound of 1960 playlist.

Al Green: Let’s Stay Together

Everybody likes this song. It stands the test of time as one of the most popular and uplifting soul tunes from the Rev. Al Green. There are also fine versions by Edwin Starr and Jimmy McGriff.

Johnny Nash: I can see Clearly Now

Known for his reggae influenced songs, the recently departed Johnny Nash is responsible for this wonderful chilled out pop song that is instantly recognisable           .

Huey Lewis & the News: The Power of Love

Another 80s classic known to many from the Back to the Future film from 1985, this is available with both studio and live versions on Freegal.

Outkast: Hey Ya!

This song was another chart topper and remains infectiously popular. Of the various versions of the song complimenting the original recording by Outkast is an instrumental by the Vitamin String Quartet which is guaranteed to instantly enhance your mood.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of feel- good songs. Take time to explore Freegal and create your own playlist of good mood music. Revisit old favourites and discover new songs to brighten up your day.

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