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MARGARET & BOB FAGAN - Landmarks On The Journey 

MARGARET & BOB FAGAN - Landmarks On The Journey 
Private Label FMCD007 

The Fagan family has been a major force in Australia’s folk music scene for half a century, and its elders Margaret and Bob have just cause for celebrating that milestone. Hence this album, presenting what they consider musical landmarks from their life journey. They’re joined by son James and daughter Kate, with Nancy Kerr and Lindsay Martin also making appearances.

Fittingly, the calendar provides the CD’s bookends (The January Man and New Year’s Eve), while the “landmarks” in between might be sub-divided into virtually self-defining categories, of which the largest, inevitably, is Australia itself. An obvious choice is Chris Kempster’s setting of Henry Lawson’s Reedy River, but the disc’s highlights may well be the pair of songs penned by family members: Kate Fagan’s The Garden, specially written for this collection, reinforces the message of caring for the earth, and makes an apt companion for Nancy Kerr’s climate-change-themed opus, Dolerite Skies.

Three great political songwriters have provided personal landmarks for Margaret and Bob. Leon Rosselson’s gloriously wordy We Sell Everything, a suitably scathing condemnation of capitalism, is complemented by two songs from an earlier decade: Pete Seeger’s setting of Idris Davies’ Bells Of Rhymney and Ewan MacColl’s ever-relevant Ballad Of Accounting (written for BBC Radio’s Landmarks series). Finally, the couple’s Irish heritage is represented by Caroline Herring’s setting of Yeats’ Wandering Aengus, Jimmy MacCarthy’s The Mad Lady And Me, and emigration song A Stór Mo Chroí (sung a cappella).

A desirable disc, shot through with performances of affection and commitment.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 129 of The Living Tradition magazine