||Seven Nations: Live! Road Kill Volume 1
Neil Anderson (Highland
and uillean bagpipes, Scottish smallpipes, tinwhistle and mandolin);
Kirk McLeod (keyboards, Highland
Ashton Patrick Geoghagan (drums and
percussion) and Struby (bass guitar).
even Nations is an outfit that tilts their brand of Celtic
folk-rock decisively toward the rock side of the mix. The sound is anchored
on the tight rhythm section of Ashton Patrick Geoghagan and Struby, whose solid, clean interplay propel
most of the cuts with a danceable groove that doesn't interfere with the
flow of Celtic touches provided by wind and reed man Neil Anderson.
Anderson's pipes and whistles occupy the niche the lead guitar occupies in a
conventional rock lineup, but the lines that he plays are as often
originally composed or improvised as they are quotations of traditional
tunes. This approach often works quite well, but occasionally wanders off
into Never Land. Nevertheless, the improvisational element does add
freshness and excitement.
There's some very nice piping and whistling, notably on "The Conundrum" and
the rocking song/tune set "Big Dog/Trip to Pakistan". There are also some
stellar moments (including a dual piping segment) in a "The Gravel
Walk/Renwick's Ferret/Our Day Will Come/Clumsy Lover" marathon (along with a
few meanders when the music loses focus). Kirk McLeod
sings most of Seven Nations' strong collection of original songs
as well as a couple of songs from other writers. A standout among these is
Dominic Behan's "Crooked Jack", a bitter workingman's rewrite on "The Star
of the County Down" melody. The band's playing suits the angry edge of the
lyrics. They also give a fine reading of another powerful industrial song,
"The Pound a Week Rise", sung by Anderson. Less effective is "Whiskey in the
Jar", an over-familiar song which never transcends its Pogues-like stomp
enough to be distinctive, and forgettable is a slow medley of "Scotland the
Brave" and "Dixie".
Seven Nations bills Road Kill as a "warts and all" portrayal of their
live shows. The energy of concert playing is certainly present, and I would
view the main drawback as having not do with the playing, but rather a
recorded sound lacking instrumental midrange on some cuts. While punchy,
there's sometimes a feeling of a missing part. Seven Nations may not be to
the taste of traditionalists, but if you like to rock they deliver the
goods, and these live recordings would indicate that a good time was had by
Grade: B -- Doug Murray.
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