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.

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.

Listen to Playlist:

The Bad Penny Review | Harry Styles’ Fine Line

When Fine Line released in December 2019 it burst onto the scene and became the third-highest debut for an album that year, and with good reason. The album is a rousing and stylish pop record that wears all of its retro-rock inspirations on its sleeve. Rock royalty Stevie Nicks revealed the album has been what she has been primarily listening to throughout the lockdown, proclaiming “Way to go H. It is your Rumours”.

Fine Line Cover Art

So given that, how does the album hold up to the Fleetwood Mac classic? While it doesn’t maintain the same level of consistent quality in all of its 12 tracks, the vast majority offer a delightful and infectious romp through the sounds of rock and pop, both old and new. You can feel the constant drive to create great moments in every track; with catchy hooks, dynamic song structures and superb production. The album is brimming with confidence and draws you in from the beginning through to the end.

The opening track ‘Golden’ launches straight in with a storming progressive indie-pop song that lays bare his 70s and aforementioned Fleetwood Mac influences but unlike his first solo album it clearly frames Styles as the main attraction. ‘Canyon Moon’ also highlights his folk-pop inspirations with its sunny disposition pitching a tent and setting up a campfire by the time it gets to the first chorus.

Other tracks like the standout ‘Sunflower Vol. 6’ sparkle and shimmer with wavy layers of electronic buzz and jangling guitars. Great vocal moments such as exaggerated breaths before verses, layered harmonies and the joyous and silly outro give the song plenty of memorable moments. This track shows Style’s at his most stylish and confident as he commands the dazzling array of sounds and layers with ease.

‘Lights Up’ blends pop rock with the glimmering shades of indie and balances them out with a bombastic chorus. Ticking the box for a big summer banger is ‘Watermelon Sugar’ with its simple guitar based underbelly exploding after the first verse into a raucous big band anthem that practically demands sunny skies.

Meanwhile, funky pop grooves and piercing guitar solos are aplenty on the single ‘Adore You’, paired with themes of unwavering devotion that invoke memories of early Bruno Mars mega-hits, while the last of the singles to appear on the record, ‘Falling’, features a stripped back instrumental for its reflective subject matter and tries to offers a change of pace. However, the song is a more forgettable pop ballad, lacking the defined sense of character on most of the other tracks.

Lyrically the album often follows an honest and open approach, ‘Cherry’ is a bouncy slice of indie folk that laments an obviously personal break-up, ‘To Be So Lonely’ demonstrates that commitment to looking inward over a sparse and fun instrumental while Styles documents his relationship failings.

The guitar heavy ‘She’ is an atmospheric and airy track that proves infectious, despite it lacking the lyrical quality to offer insight into the concept on display, with its soaring guitars and great vocals.

The thematically self-explanatory, ‘Treat People With Kindness’, sees Styles at his most Magical Mystery Tour. Sporting a powerful vocal performance that holds the larger than life instrumental and backing vocals together the song soars and aims to take all bystanders along with it, even if it does often veer into clichéd territory.

The title track ‘Fine Line’ closes the album with a spacious, melancholy ballad that builds steadily with expanding instrumentation and vocal melodies, until the spectacular introduction of a stellar brass section gives both the song and album a great sense of release.

Overall, Fine Line is a very solid second offering from an artist carving their sound out of 60s and 70s influences and using them to create fun, energetic and honest music for a whole new generation.


Now available with your library membership to stream and download on Freegal:


By John Hayes


Music To Enjoy At Home

Although concert venues, theatres and general performance spaces remain closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, you can still  access many forms of music online and enjoy them in the comfort of your own home. Here are a few suggestions from Senior Library Assistant, Conor McHale.

Live Stream Concerts
Billboard’s website offers a range of links to live stream concerts from artists such as Metallica to Miley Cyrus with the Philadelphia Orchestra in between.  These are available on the bigger platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.  Billboard regularly updates this list of online concerts.  Visit



Jazz and Rock is an easy to use website, also regularly updated and is divided into genre such and Jazz, Rock and so on. Visit



Irish Traditional Music
For Irish and Trad enthusiasts there is a collection of YouTube videos from artists like Sharon Shannon, Rhiannon Giddens, Ye Vagabonds and The Black Family.  Visit



Classical Music
For Classical lovers check out an old reliable, Classic FM. Visit



Recorded Concerts
For those who enjoy watching classic music concerts from their favourite artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Queen and many, many more, visit


by Conor McHale