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FOUR MEN & A DOG - Shifting Gravel CBMCD005

This is the eagerly awaited follow-up to the poll-topping best-seller "Barking Mad" and it represents a change of gear along with its change of personnel.

New singer Kevin Doherty brings his own bagful of songs and an inclination towards a country style. His compositions are not as accessible as some of the earlier Dogs' material but he is a writer of some class and "Joh" is just one of his songs which is sure to be picked up by other singers.

One of the reasons for the band's success is the personality of their bodhran player, genial Gino Lupari from County Derry. His not inconsiderable frame looms large on the sleeve of the album, looking pensively at a dog and he contributes a version of Fats Domino's "I'm Walking" as only he knows how.

Now with banjo man Gerry O'Connor added to the group and the "guitarist's guitarist" Arty McGlynn virtually a full time member (as well as producer), the band is stronger than ever instrumentally and retains that distinctive, hard driving sound, laying into the tunes at a frantic pace.

"Barking Mad" is a hard act to follow but the Dogs come as near as dammit to matching it and will surely have another international hit on their hands.

Geoff Harden

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This album was reviewed in Issue 1 of The Living Tradition magazine.