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meets a particularly tragic end. Band leader Kevin Begbie wrote it and these boys have served their time in the USA supporting ‘names’, playing bars and small halls and know the scene over there. You could be listening to Ricky Skaggs or Del McCoury on Too Tired (To Work On That Farm Today) a full throttle bluegrass number and Calm Before The Storm is just a splendid relaxing instrumental with Peter Cameron’s fiddle well to the fore. The highlights just keep on coming. When The Cockerel Crows is a merry all-night drinking song and more excellent bluegrass fiddle on Before The Devil Knows I’m Dead and you will get the general theme of this song when you hear the title is prefaced by: ‘I hope that I’m in heaven.’ The title track, written by their friend, the late Bryan Begg, is the only non-original song and is given added poignancy by completing the album, everyone knows the saying and its meaning and it’s a great title and subject for a song. The band clearly get enormous fun from making their music as instanced by their early days busking and the increasing numbers and enthusiastic reception they get at gigs. Kieran’s cousins, the brothers Finn and Peter Begbie and Dobro/double bassist Stuart Printie are the remaining members of the band and all make sterling contributions to a quite brilliant sound. A credible British presence in Americana and bluegrass. How good is that? I didn’t know too much about the Dirty Beggars before this and the UK scene has been getting a bit better in recent years, but nothing I’ve seen or heard recently is as good as this outfit. Paul Collins

Tom Kell THIS DESERT CITY 17 Degrees Recording HHHH Kell musically explores his adopted hometown Produced by long-time collaborator

Jeffrey Cox, THIS DESERT CITY is Seattle- bred Kell’s fifth solo outing in a musical career that now spans five decades. Tom moved south from Washington State to Los Angeles during 1983 and his first solo album, co-produced by Cox, surfaced four years later. Apart from inspiring the album title, references to the City of the Angels— obtuse and full-on—permeate his lyrics on

this collection. The recording sessions took nine months to complete. That, however, was midway through the noughties, the album having only recently entered the public domain. On THIS DESERT CITY eight Kell-penned originals are joined by covers of Baby’s In Black from Lennon/McCartney and Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood—surely you remember, the international hit those Geordie Animals scored way back in 1965! Kell is assisted throughout by a coterie of long-time West Coast musical buddies. Among that group I’d make special mention of the talented, late great Kenny Edwards (acoustic and electric guitar, bottleneck electric guitar, bass) who passed away in August 2010. A Stone Poneys and Bryndle alumni during the late 1960s/early 1970s, Edwards went on to work extensively with Linda Ronstadt and Karla Bonoff during ensuing decades before reforming Bryndle during the 1990s. Other members of the aforementioned coterie include Don Heffington (drums), Bob Galub (bass), Greg Leisz (guitar), plus there are backing vocals from Valerie Carter and Nitty Gritty John McEuen’s youngster Jonathan. Kenny also adds his voice to a couple of selections. In the shape of Texas On The 4th Of July, Kell delivers the final opus in his TEXAS TRILOGY, Texas Has Nothin’ On Me and One Sad Night In Kerrville having appeared on the Josh Leo-produced ONE SAD NIGHT (1990). He duets with Valerie on the slow-burning ballad Dove, while the opening verse of The Way Of The World relates how a French girl came to LA ‘for the heat.’ By the close she’s covered by a white sheet with a tag hanging from her feet. The production on THIS DESERT CITY is beyond reproach and sounds absolutely great, even the song lyrics on this West Coast country-tinged collection almost hit the spot. Arthur Wood

Waco Brothers & Paul Burch GREAT CHICAGO FIRE Bloodshot Records BS120 HHI I expected fireworks and rockets with this collaboration, but unfortunately no one could light the fuse. Both these acts I have enjoyed for a

few years now. Paul Burch has released some very good country albums and I remember seeing him at the Union Chapel,

London in 2003 when he performed a great set as well as doing a terrific duet with Laura Cantrell. Waco Brothers are at the other end of the spectrum, with their country being tempered with punk rock and their music being full of energy and raw power. Because I like them both I was therefore looking forward to listening to this CD when it came through my letterbox, interested in how this unusual collaboration would work out. I was expecting Paul’s great country voice to add to the heat from the hi-octane punk- country of the Wacos, but unfortunately the fire was instead only lukewarm. On the inside of the CD cover, behind where the CD sits, was a copy of a letter that was supposedly sent to the artists involved from the owner of Bloodshot saying: ‘Your paltry record sales have inspired me to suggest a rock collaboration, one which the world has never heard the likes of before. The record…should aim to be between the 14th and 25th best rock album ever made.’ Now I suspect that this is just a bit of show for the fans who buy the album, but for me this is no way a rock album and would definitely not get anywhere near any top rock album lists, it is closer to a country collaboration that just does not take-off. Please do not get me wrong as actually

the songs are okay, but I just expected far better from these two very good acts. Paul Burch just did not sound at his best away from his normal musical comfort zone and the Waco Brothers suffered from being held on too tight a leash. The only real standout track was Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall on which for five minutes they all managed to let themselves go and actually seemed to be enjoying themselves, perhaps covering a song by the great Bob Dylan helped remove the shackles for a while. Hopefully both acts will quickly forget about this CD and set about releasing their own new albums. David Knowles

The Woodbine and Ivy Band THE WOODBINE AND IVY BAND Folk Police Recordings FPR004 HHHHH English folk with a difference—stunning! The Woodbine and Ivy Band is a group of Manchester folk-rockers who came

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