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With due respect to the classic Hawkwind LP, Mike McGoldrick's third solo album could well have been entitled 'Spark, Strangeness and Charm'. The spark is definitely there: he plays like a man possessed, sorcery flowing from flute, pipes and whistle. Few could crank out a set of reels as fiery as this version of 'Spike Island Lasses' and 'Skyedance': tablas, trumpet and other trimmings go almost unnoticed behind such vibrant dance music. Strange Journey opens with more charm than a Glastonbury jewellers, and Amhran an Bha is simply stunning on solo flute. It's his ability to take tunes of any tempo and bring out their magic which makes Mike McGoldrick such a master musician. Of course, there's that touch of strangeness too - Asian samples on Sophie's, electric guitar on the title track, exotic percussion all over the place, and a few other surprises - but like his previous album Fused it's all great fun and it works well most of the time.

Though Wired is billed as a solo album, Capercaillie keyboardist and composer Donald Shaw had a big hand in it. As well as producing and directing, Donald has collaborated with Mike on many of the compositions and arrangements. Sophie's would be quite at home on a Capercaillie CD, Buckfast 5 and Gaelic Gavotte have that familiar Breton feel of many Shaw tunes, and most tracks carry a hint of the Capercaillie groove. There's also a small army of guest musicians adding spice to the mix: Dezi Donnelly, John Joe Kelly, Ed Boyd, Manus Lunny, John McCusker and Alison Brown to mention a few. Wired has been put together from the finest ingredients, and the result is first class. If I have a criticism of this recording, it's that the production has smoothed things out slightly too much: a little more edge would have been nice at times. But you can't have everything, not even from Mike McGoldrick. I'm already looking forward to his fourth album, but Wired will keep a lot of people happy for now.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 66 of The Living Tradition magazine.