Link to Living Tradition Homepage





MIKE SILVER - Alchemy: 50 Years In Song 

MIKE SILVER - Alchemy: 50 Years In Song 
Folkstock Records FSR54 

A fifty-year career has taken me completely by surprise – an artiste who I have admired for over 40 of them has presented an anthology that entrances from start to finish. One of a handful of people on the folk scene who truly deserved greater attention than they have received, this is another of those ‘about bloody time’ moments, where the breadth of talent overrides all other influences. For a finger style guitarist, this is like listening to the master at work. For a lover of clever lyricism, there are hooks here and there that make the listener just marvel at the talent, from Pollyanna who “just cuts your blues down to size” via the horror of a partner when “it’s the limo for him and limbo for her” to the question of “how many stars wait just behind sunset?”.

Another significant factor that pulls people in, is the inherent honesty of someone who wears his heart on his sleeve – and cares passionately about the issues of the day, be they Apartheid, aid for Palestine, the Falklands crisis or anti-Semitism. You feel that he cares and invites you to care also. As for the love songs, he is up there with the best. The absolute highlight is the finale, Old Fashioned Saturday Night, which would on its own be a suitable way of signing off, but tucked on the end, un-listed, is a live version of Angel In Deep Shadows, possibly lifted from the Roadworks album, which sends the listener home happy. Accidental or not (belied by the declared timing of 4:38 compared to the actual 8:54), this addition that may only be on the review copy is a perfect way to close. Admittedly, a single album is barely approaching adequate to sum up an illustrious 50-year career. MS has himself intimated that a Volume 2 may be in the offing. Hope so, because this guy has such a compendium of gems that there is an obvious thirst for more. Totally brilliant.

Grem Devlin


This review appeared in Issue 129 of The Living Tradition magazine