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Prog Folk • South Africa

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Flibbertigibbet biography
FLIBBERTIGIBBET was established in Johannesburg, South Africa during the apartheid, when former MELLOW CANDLE members Alison O'Donnell and David Williams met Joanna (Jo) Dudding and Barrie Glenn at the Mangles folk club which was famous for launching numerous of the day's South African folk musicians. Despite the country of origin of the group, their inspiration lied in British and Irish folklore, the sound of their recordings taking us back to the likes of STEELEYE SPAN, MELLOW CANDLE, but also to hints of early FAIRPORT CONVENTION. The band made several appearances on radio and television shows, and also performed at the Market Café in the Market Theatre, a place renowned for its apartheid opposition. Barrie and Jo, who eventually got married, left the group in 1979, being replaced by Heather Lawn and Virgil Ellis. However, they continued playing live together only for a short period of time due to financial problems, before breaking up.

In 1978 FLIBBERTIGIBBET released their sole studio album, "Whistling Jigs to the Moon", which was initially a very rare South-African record, until it saw the light of day on CD format courtesy of Kissing Spell and later of Si-Wan Records. In 2004 a compilation of unreleased live and studio recordings from the time of their album, was put out and entitled "My Lagan Love". Both releases hold the archetypal British folk rock sound of the 70's, thus making them a group recommended mainly for the fans of the genre.

Thanks to Lizzy for the biography.

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My Lagan Love by FlibbertigibbetMy Lagan Love by Flibbertigibbet
Kissing Spell
Whistling Jigs to the MoonWhistling Jigs to the Moon
Kissing Spell 2002
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FLIBBERTIGIBBET top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.50 | 8 ratings
Whistling Jigs To The Moon

FLIBBERTIGIBBET Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

FLIBBERTIGIBBET Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

FLIBBERTIGIBBET Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 2 ratings
My Lagan Love

FLIBBERTIGIBBET Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Whistling Jigs To The Moon  by FLIBBERTIGIBBET album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.50 | 8 ratings

Whistling Jigs To The Moon
Flibbertigibbet Prog Folk

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

3 stars There is something magical and surreal with folk music. Spanning across ages, both in time and mind, it feels like the past is speaking to you. I have been an avid fan of folk since early days and continue to be enthralled by the genre. I should make it clear that I am mostly talking about british folk, though I appreciate the genre of whatever origin. It's just that I, by way of bands such as Kinks and The Who and that lot, have a certain undying love of all british. It's history, culture and in particular musical expression.

From those rain and wind beaten isles comes great albums from Steeleye Span, Pentangle (and all who participated in that group), John Martyn, Fairport Convention, Barry Dransfield, Nigel Mazlyn and the list could go on forever. Sort of. I suppose what I like the most with folk is the sombre, historic tales of events, not seldom quite violent, such as in the classic 'Matty Groves'. Having now laid bare my love of the genre I need to get on with the album at hand.

The sole album by Flibbertigibbet is one of rarity. The name is wonderful and the cover makes you want to crawl inside it and live there. The album has everything going for it. But once again obscurity rears it's head and let's out not a great roar but a somewhat muffled belch, preceded by what could be understood as a yelp of triumph. On the surface there is really nothing wrong. The musicianship is competent and the vocals are very fine indeed. It all comes down to the material itself and how it is interpreted. 'The blackleg miner' is played in blindening speed, which takes the edge of this dramatic song and that is a shame. The remaining tracks are good, especially 'Mariner blues' which really is a top notch song. One could summarize this album as being good but not outstanding in any way. There are so many other, greater albums to invest time and money in.

Musically it can be likened to Trees, Fairport, Steeleye and many of the classic folk groups of the era, that is the 1970 's. Flibbertigibbet never reaches the heights of any of those groups finest moments. Instead it simmers more than boils with excitement. Nothing out of the ordinary, good but not the least essential.

 My Lagan Love by FLIBBERTIGIBBET album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2004
2.00 | 2 ratings

My Lagan Love
Flibbertigibbet Prog Folk

Review by Lizzy

2 stars

Mellow Candle meets Steeleye Span meets Fairport Convention meets Pentangle and they all wave to Tull from across the street.

So here's an interesting little band with an equally interesting history, as former Mellow Candle members Alison O'Donnell and David Williams moved to South Africa where they started Flibbertigibbet with fellow musicians and folk enthusiasts, Jo Dudding and Barrie Glenn. After having managed to re-release their sole studio album, Whistling Jigs to the Moon on CD in the mid 1990s, the group saw the new millennium as a great opportunity to put out this anthology of never before heard studio tracks recorded around 1978, as well as live songs from the same period. The first thing that meets the eye is the significant lack of original tracks. Instead, staying faithful to their British and Irish roots, the group performed a multitude of traditional tunes, not failing however, to add a personal touch, but far from being cutting-edge. It is no secret that compilation albums are often chaotic and lack a minimum cohesion. My Lagan Love, unfortunately, makes no exception, consisting of studio songs alternating with live recordings creating a terribly cluttered track list. Howbeit, they do manage to recreate the countryside atmosphere with sounds of fiddles and mandolins reminiscent of Steeleye Span, like on the old English tune Come Sunday or on the first live medley which includes the animated Irish jig ? The Jolly Beggarman. In the same vein, the title track ? unreleased studio recording with O'Donnell providing beautiful vocals accompanied by mellow strings and fiddle; Drowsky Maggie ? a live version of the typical country song driven by dynamic fiddle; or Gleantain Glais Gaoth Dubhai- sung in Gaelige; are all traditional Irish folk tunes. Other noticeable tracks are an accapella version of The Jolly Jack Tar; Reynardine with leading vocals courtesy of Jo Dudding, who has a very delicate and slightly nasal timbre, Alison O'Donnell producing backup harmonies; or Take Your Fingers Off It is an alert melody with almost silent string work in the background, Williams, O'Donnell and Dudding take turn on the vocals, Alison even making a demonstration of her kazoo playing skills with a surprising solo.

In toto, the structure of the album, as well as most of the songs' lack of innovation where interpretation is concerned, causes My Lagan Love to be worth no more than 2 stars. However, I would advice die-hard folk fans and collectors in general to keep an eye out for this.

 Whistling Jigs To The Moon  by FLIBBERTIGIBBET album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.50 | 8 ratings

Whistling Jigs To The Moon
Flibbertigibbet Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars The most prominent sounds on this album come from former Mellow Candle vocalist Alison O’Donnell, whose other bio credits includes a stint with the multinational folk band Éishtlinn as well as a recent solo release. Mandoliner/guitarist (is ‘manoliner’ a word?) and former O’Donnell mate Dave Williams also appears via Mellow Candle. As far as I know the rest of the band are all some variation of European expatriate. Vocalist Jo Dudding reportedly married guitarist Barrie Glenn and ended up in Canada after this band dissolved, but someone better versed in this type of folk music would know better than I where they came from.

The music here hearkens back to Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span as much as anything else, fairly traditional, conservative, and not really opening up any new avenues musically. That said, the compositions are well enough laid out, the musicianship is solid, and O’Donnell’s voice rivals the quality of Sandy Denny in her brief prime.

The original vinyl release of this album was on the South African Stanyan label, which of course means you’ll never get your hands on it without taking out a second mortgage. The Si-Wan CD reissue isn't too hard to find though, and despite the lack of depth in liner notes it is a good bargain, and was lifted from the original studio masters so the quality is quite decent.

Dudding offers crisp harmonic accompaniment on pretty much every track, and Williams sings throughout as well. These are pretty much traditional Irish and British folk arrangements, with really very little embellishment or innovation offered. Some of the tales seem to be of Tolkien influence. There’s only one (“Little Roving Sailor”) I’m quite sure I’ve heard before somewhere. The rest are as obscure as the band’s name. “The Green Cockade” kind of sounds like the Roche sisters if you’re into that sort of thing.

I’d like to say this is some sort of lost gem of folk music, but really it’s rather run-of-the-mill stuff that isn’t much worth the considerable effort to hunt it down. Mildly recommended to fans of very mellow and traditional Irish folk sounds; for anyone else this probably isn’t worth the trouble. The band’s name is really more interesting than their music. Two stars.


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