DICK GAUGHAN - The ‘Harvard’ Tapes
Coincidence time: two albums arrived here within hours of one another, both recorded live by Scottish artists at Harvard University in the early 1980s, (The Clutha’s was the other one) and both are excellent.
Before looking at the track listing, this reviewer set himself the task of choosing five of Dick’s songs that he would think of as ‘definitive’ and happily they are all included! The date of the concert was within 18 months of the release of Handful Of Earth, the album which probably made the biggest impact of the many that come under Dick’s name. It was voted as Album Of The Decade by fRoots in both its critics' and readers' polls, so it is not surprising that ‘a handful’ of the songs from that end up here.
It is interesting to compare the performances of the five songs that are on both albums. Gaughan sounds perfectly at ease in the earlier studio album which was recorded by an old friend and fellow Boy of the Lough, Robin Morton, but there is much more fire, intensity and passion when he is in front of an audience. Many fans, including this one, have stated how much greater his impact was in live performances compared with studio recordings.
Many of you will know that Dick is now giving proper time to recovery after a stroke and is prevented from touring. Several contributors to the production of this album have waived payment to maximise the artist’s royalties. In buying this album you will not only be giving your ears a treat, but you will be helping this admirable man through a tough time.
This review appeared in Issue 131 of The Living Tradition magazine