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Eric Bogle - “By Request” - Greentrax CDTRAX 210

Just as you thought our Eric had been sufficiently anthologised - here's another! This one is, apparently, a response to fans' desires for early Bogle songs on CD - so it's crammed with the songs we all feel we've known forever - "Waltzing Mathilda", "Now I'm Easy", "No Man's Land" and "Leaving Nancy". They're all here and it's nice to have them all in one place, performed by the man himself. Yes, of course, June Tabor's versions of "Mathilda" and "No Man's Land" stand as definitive. Yes, Eric Bogle has only a solidly workmanlike voice and plays sturdy guitar - but it's the strength of the writing - particularly the words - that has made him the icon that he is. This CD shows how he can descend, intentionally, into outright silliness like "Nobody's Moggy" (not one for the cat-lovers) and a seasonal squib like "Santa Bloody Claus". This latter doesn't stand up too well to repeated listening!. Behind such throwaway nonsense, he's come up with some of the most moving and well-crafted phrases in contemporary songwriting in any genre. His ability to take a lyric up to the point of becoming maudlin, stopping just short, has caused many a tear and many a lump in the throat. If you don't own any Eric Bogle on CD - this is almost certainly the one to buy first. Eric describes the songs as "old friends" and admits that he's proud of them. So he should be, they are part of the tradition now - and so, therefore, is he.

Alan Murray

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This album was reviewed in Issue 44 of The Living Tradition magazine.