|John Regan & Mary Corcoran - "Let Down the Blade" - BMCDS71|
Back when I'd aspirations
to play the button box, I used to listen to as much of John Regan's playing
as possible. My playing didn't improve but I liked his style, and still
do. He partnered fiddler Paddy Glackin on the first ever Comhaltas concert
tour of Britain, back about 1970. Somewhere, I've a tape of him playing
in the square in Listowel in 1972; no audience, just playing for the love
of it. He seemed to drop out of earshot for a long time but he certainly
didn't rust away, because he's as good as ever I remember him. This is good
Sligo-style accordion, crisp and driving, without over-ornamentation. There's
obviously influence from Joe Burke, but Regan's his own man all the time.
The 19 tracks are a balanced mixture of reels, jigs, and more hornpipes than you'd normally expect. Most are familiar, some less so. Besides solos, John plays 5 duets with Paddy Glackin, and accordion duets with each of his young sons, Colm and Donal. Most tracks have Mary Corcoran's sensitive and unobtrusive piano accompaniment, a welcome change from some of the piano drivers I've heard. A happy combination is of strathspey and slip jig; unusual, but it works. "James F Dickie" just slides into a Donegal version of "Drops of Brandy". The surprise of the album is a duet with Donal on piano on Delibes' Waltz from "Coppelia". I'm usually scornful of "cross-over" but if this is what it's about, then I'm all for it. I suppose it's evidence that good music is universal and timeless.
The inlay notes are concise and adequate, with the sources of each tune, and tributes to many other musicians, from Patsy Tuohy to the current crop.
Definitely one for the more discerning accordian fan.
(By the way, I finally gave up on the box. I realised that not only did the left hand not know what the right hand was doing, it didn't even know what it was doing itself.)