Chris Wood

Eric Bogle - Singing The Spirit Home
Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX4001B

It’s funny how certain things jog one’s memory. Here I am listening to this handsome set of Eric Bogle’s five CD retrospective and I find myself reminiscing on where I first heard particular songs. You know the kind of thing…June Tabor and Martin Simpson performing ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ at The Star & Garter in Putney, John Townsend’s beautiful interpretation of ‘Lady From Bendigo’ at the Clapham Folk Club and the bare faced cheek of The Fureys changing the title of ‘No Man’s Land’ to the Green Fields Of France performing to a drowned rat (but none more gustily-voiced) capacity audience at Leeds Folk Festival – liberty taking or what? Mind you, I’m sure that at the time Mr Bogle would have been well chuffed with the royalties. And who should we be to grumble at such a prolific pen pusher being paid for his pains? This collection (of sixty songs) provides a general ‘greatest hits’ and then some, by including songs that obviously mean a great deal to the man himself. Of the more whimsical inclusions is a live take on ‘Do You Know Any Dylan’ and no, I didn’t realise he wrote that either. You see, in that time honoured tradition of the folk world, soaking up contemporary songwriters lyrics and claiming them for their own has never been far away (‘Clare to Here’ and ‘The Ellen Vannin Tragedy’ anyone?) and in many respects I suppose the artists should consider themselves immortalised, at least in certain quarters. If that’s the case then Eric can count himself top of the tree and this limited edition will prove a welcome addition to any self respecting ‘folk’ music collection. As much as I have enjoyed listening to Eric’s songs over the years I only ever saw him once at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (I think) so, on the strength of these recordings rest assured that I’ll catch up with him on his next tour in Britain between June and August 2006.

Pete Fyfe

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This album was reviewed in Issue 64 of The Living Tradition magazine.