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CON  DRISCEOIL - Hunting The Hair And Other Pursuits

CON DRISCEOIL - Hunting The Hair And Other Pursuits
Craft Recordings CRCD08 / ISBN: 9781527219984

This should really be the subject of two reviews, comprising as it does a hardback book and a CD! Con (Fada) Ó Drisceoil is a notable member of a long line of very fine Irish composers of witty songs (‘comic’ doesn’t do them justice) whose productions have convulsed audiences for generations. Each new Con Fada composition is eagerly awaited by an army of fellow singers and musicians, as well as by audiences all over Ireland. This CD – and the book – contains 11 recent items from his pen, which would work as songs, recitations or as pure poetry. Let’s look at the CD first.

Firstly, it should be said that this is a very rich diet – in many ways it’s not really something to sit down and listen to in one hit (not for me anyway), but at the same time this is no criticism. Con’s masterful and relaxed phrasing gets the most out of the skilfully crafted words to maximise the comic impact, and each track needs a couple of repeats in order to savour all the wit, the alliteration and the internal rhymes as he launches his satirical spears at various aspects of the human condition. Most of the airs have a sean nós feel to them (one is sung as gaeilge), and all but two are unaccompanied, so there is a certain sameness to the tracks which makes it less suitable as background music. But that’s not what this CD is about, and it repays listening to, one track at a time. Don’t play it in the car – you won’t be able to concentrate on your driving.

Not many CDs come with an ISBN number, and the high quality, 80 page hardback which accompanies the CD (beautifully illustrated, by the way) contains not only the words of all the songs but also a page or so commenting and scene-setting for each song, plus cut-outs to use in a proper CD case. Reading the words gives access to the labyrinth of the composer’s mind in a different way – not many people have the facility to look at the world from Con Fada’s perspective! My favourites were The Judgement Of Munnelly, a masterful and warm tribute to one of the great song collectors, and The Pope’s Toe, inspired by a Cork reel; but they’re all good, and if you enjoy humorous songs, you’ll love this.

John Waltham


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This album was reviewed in Issue 125 of The Living Tradition magazine.