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Shave the Monkey - Mad Arthur CD (album) cover


Shave the Monkey

Prog Folk

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Prog-Folk Team
3 stars So many have come before and so many more will come after; such is the nature of Celtic folk music, and dozens of bands of this ilk have appeared and disappeared. A somber ballad here, a cheery instrumental medley there, often predictably juxtaposed, a strategy for which the word formula was conceived. My preference has tended to be for the songs over the jigs/reels, strathspeys, hornpipes played at breakneck pace more suited for a live performance but, even there, growing tired well before the interminable finale, let alone the dreaded encore.

What is different here? Honestly, for the first half of the disk, not a whole lot, except these performers do much better on the instrumentals. Cynically, this is partly due to their generally undistinguished voices. Optimistically, it is because they can really play, know how to blend the building blocks of a medley together, and seem to have at least been introduced to the secret progressive handshake, if only via an association with MUSEA. On the subject of the progressive quotient, I caution you not to get too excited, but "Chameleon / Except From Rambling Sailor / La Sansonette" isn't seven and a half minutes long for nothing, and gets downright eerie at times, dense and rousing at others, especially towards the end, while "Nimbus/Shadowlands" could almost be mistaken for CAMEL circa "Harbor of Tears", which should not shock you in any case. TULL is surely referenced as well. The haunting closer is the strongest of the vocal tracks, helped along by more flute and vibrant guitar.

By no means a landmark recording in any genre, "Mad Arthur"'s credentials should be sufficient to keep all but the most savage primates among us from pulling out their hair.

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Posted Tuesday, September 25, 2012 | Review Permalink

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