Billy Connolly's Musical Tour of New Zealand

Billy Connolly's Musical Tour Of New Zealand
Composed by John McCusker
Pure Records PRCD016

McCusker has already served his apprenticeship as a composer of film music, having written the soundtrack to the movie Heartlands a couple of years back. This is the 100% Celtic soundtrack to Billy Connolly's recent TV series - the music graced his show for 8 weeks running. Having watched a bit of the programme myself, I thought the theme music fitted the documentary very well - the Celtic ancestry of many New Zealanders is well documented, and the majestic landscapes of the series more than match the Highlands of McCusker & Connolly's homeland.

The compositions are all credited to McCusker. This is a little confusing, because the CD cover boasts the words 'Original music by Billy Connolly and John McCusker. Kate Rusby contributes a lovely song of great simplicity - Wandering Soul.

The music comes over as a lively, relaxed Celtic music session - it doesn't break any new ground or set the world on fire, but offers lyrical and relaxing listening pleasure - these are good, strong tunes. Connolly's banjo & autoharp (and his vocal on Pokarekare ana) were recorded in New Zealand and added to the sessions recorded at Pure Records studio.

Musicianship is, of course, consummate. How could it NOT be, with Andy Cutting, Ian Carr, Ewen Vernal, Michael McGoldrick, James Mackintosh, Andy Seward, Phil Cunningham, Kris Drever, Eddi Reader and John Doyle joining the musicians already mentioned? The album has a nice thematic flow, and the positive outcome is that it's brought Celtic acoustic instrumentation to a wide TV audience - no bad achievement!

Debbie Koritsas

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This album was reviewed in Issue 61 of The Living Tradition magazine.