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Ceide: Like A Wild Thing

Over a number of wet and windy Sunday nights in October 1999 five unique musicians gathered in Matt Molloy's pub in Westport, Co. Mayo. They played music that reflected their individual style and influences. The sound they have created may set a new direction for Irish traditional music.

The Woods of Old Limerick:

Le Voyage pour L'Irlande:

Like a Wild Thing:

Mrs Kenny's:

 

Also available from Copperplate Mail Order: Ceide: Out of Their Shell

  1. Cis Ni Liathain / The Bucks of Oranmore.
  2. The Dunmore Lasses / Mother's Reel
  3. Flowers of the Forest.
  4. John the Baptist.
  5. The Woods of Old Limerick / Nora Rooney's Favourite / Farewell to Tarpey's
  6. Le Voyage pour L'Irlande. Air
  7. Within a Mile of Dublin / Ballinasloe Fair/ Mickey Finn's.
  8. Like a Wild Thing.
  9. Gan Ainm / Cuir Barr Ai r/ My Love is in America.
  10. Mrs Kenny's / Adam & Eve / Babes in the Wood.
  11. If I Had a Boat.
  12. The Pullet that Wants the Cock / The Night Before Larry was Stretched / Islay Rant.
The musicians are:
  • Brian Lennon - Flute/Whistle/Vocals
  • Tom Doherty - Button Accordion/Melodeon
  • John Mc Hugh - Fiddle
  • Kevin Doherty - Double Bass
  • Declan Askin - Guitar/Vocals

The group is Céide, (pronounced Kay-ge) named after the 5000 year old Mesolithic hunter/gatherer settlement found in north Mayo called the Céide Fields

'These five lads from various backgrounds first started to play together at a regular Sunday night session in my pub in Westport. It soon became clear that they were developing a distinctive and original sound, combining the best of traditional music with contemporary songs and arrangements. This recording does great justice to their individual and collective talent. It has a very broad appeal and I highly recommend it.' Matt Molloy

Press Reviews

Irish Dancing International Review Sept 03 CD of the Month

Living away from the "centre of the universe", you sometimes yearn for the "real drop" when it comes to traditional Irish music. Well, you gotta listen to this album from Ceide as it's as close as you can get to "real" music.

It's a delightful, genuine trad Irish album, the spirit and atmosphere of Mayo exudes from every track, starting with, Cis ni Liathain and The Bucks of Oranmore. On track two, we get Dunmore Lasses, erstwhile glorified by the Chieftains and the man behind the bar himself, Matt Molloy, in their album, "The Long Black Veil". A lovely treatment to this, speeded up to a spirited reel pace, and again, a tried formula of lovely whistle playing, giving way to accordion, fiddle and guitar, with all five lads cutting in for good measure.

The title track, Like A Wild Thing is a slow, easy song, composed by local, Tony Reidy. It's sung by Declan Askin and supported by all the musicians on board. It's very meaningful and well suited to the album's title. The CD is a fine mix of jigs, reels and polkas and a Finnish Waltz (sounds French). The musicians are exceptional and, all through the album, a polished unhurried quality pevades every note.

Oh, and leave the CD running after the last track and you get a delightful blues harmonica number by Declan with all the boys "cutting in" again, a great finish to a splendid album. Donal Lynch

Pay The Reckoning Web Site Review

Mayo-based 5-piece, Ceide, are one outfit who won't have any difficulty in staking their claim on airtime on Pay The Reckoning's CD carousel.

The band came together in sessions at Matt Molloy's pub in Westport and what sparks must have flown between them when they realised they were on the same musical wavelength! Intelligent with a sense of fun; able to hold their enthusiasm in check during the first repeat of a tune yet ready to drop all inhibitions and barnstorm their way to the finish line.

Ceide combine traditional tunes with contemporary songs. In this regard they are the latest torch-bearers in a musical institution which already has an illustrious history. (Stockton's Wing and Four Men and a Dog, to name but two groups, have walked a very similar path and to very similar effect.) Ceide's choice of contemporary material is exemplary. They interpret John Martyn's "John The Baptist" beautifully, allowing Kevin Doherty an opportunity to strut his funky stuff on double bass while Declan Askin showcases his guitar and vocals. Lyle Lovett's "If I Had A Boat" also gets a well-deserved, sensitive treatment. However to our ears the stand-out song on the album is local singer/songwriter Tony Reidy's song "Like A Wild Thing". The song catches a former farmer, forced into office work as a result of not being able to make a living out of his farm, reflecting bitterly on his current lot. The soul-destroying bereftness which lies at the heart of this song is communicated perfectly in Ceide's arrangement and the words linger afterwards, nagging away at the listener. "Farewell to the land where I grappled with stone/Farewell to the hills where I was soaked to the bone".

And what of the tunes? Well ... there are some beltin' sets here. We've already mentioned Kevin Doherty's double bass playing. It's remarkable how much it contributes to the tune sets. On the first set of reels, for example, Cis Ni Liathain/The Bucks of Oranmore, the bass is in evidence throughout the first reel, lending the tune a degree of "bottom" rarely encountered in traditional Irish music. At the change, Doherty holds back, allowing Brian Lennon on flute and Declan Askin on guitar to carry the first round of The Bucks Of Oranmore. At the repeat, Doherty rejoins, immediately anchoring the sound once again.

These lads know their stuff. Tom Doherty (boxes and snare drum) and John McHugh on fiddle haven't yet been mentioned by name, but their contribution is equally vital. There are a couple of slowish tracks (the Finnish waltz "The Flowers of the Forest" and the air composed by Pierre Bensusan "Le Voyage Pour L'Irlande") which spotlight the band's ability to maintain the rigid discipline necessary to put such tunes across.

Which is not, of course, to deny that discipline is also necessary in successfully playing jigs and reels and so forth. Ceide prove on this album that they are masters at constructing and playing exhilarating tune sets. Here you'll come across old standards and tunes you might not be familiar with as well as tunes which take you completely by surprise. In the final category is the inclusion of "The Night Before Larry Was Stretched" played as a slip jig in a set in which it is sandwiched between The Pullet That Wants The Cock and The Islay Rant, and benefitting greatly from the eeriness which it borrows from Doherty bowing, rather than plucking, his bass. All the sets are outstanding and are therefore all worthy of a mention. As well as those which already get a namecheck above, then you'll be excited by "The Dunmore Lasses/Mother's Reel", "The Woods Of Old Limerick/Nora Rooney's Favourite/Farewell To The Tarpeys Of Arderry", "Within A Mile Of Dublin/Ballinasloe Fair/Mickey Finn's Favourite", "Gan Ainm/Cuir Barr Air/My Love Is In America" and "Mrs Kenny's/Adam And Eve/Babes In The Wood".

All things considered, a superb debut by a bundle of accomplished musicians, about whom we expect to hear very big things in the near future. It's no exaggeration to say that in the space of a few days, this has become one of Pay The Reckoning's favourite recordings ... we'll be singing its praises at every opportunity! Pay The Reckoning

Folk Roundabout Review. 01/02

This is the first release from a new Mayo-based five-piece, and comes highly recommended by Matt Molloy at sessions at whose pub in Westport he first encountered their distinctive collective approach and individual talents. Matt sure has a finely tuned ear, for this album's appealing blend of traditional tunes and contemporary songs makes for a good listen.

The opening set defines the mood and pace, with spirited front-line accordion (Tom Doherty) offset by gently rhythmic guitar (Declan Askin) and smooth bowed double-bass (Kevin Doherty), before fiddle (John McHugh) and whistle (Brian Lennon) join the front line for the repeat and the rhythms take off, though maintaining a level of restraint that's attractively managed.

The band's general method of attack remains thoughtful rather than full-tilt, and their ensemble tightness conceals a considerable degree of internal fire, and there's some very expert shading in the playing that repays many further listens. With an innate and well-considered sense of poise, Céide have a healthy attitude to repertoire too, unafraid to essay a Finnish waltz (and bring in a handbell-choir to boot!) alongside reels and jigs (those on track 5 feature Charlie Lennon's wonderfully gentle guest piano playing as a bonus). There's also a hidden track, where a wailing blues harmonica drives the whole train off on holiday!

The choice of songs (just three out of the twelve tracks) is clearly tailored to suit the winning combination of softness and strength in Declan's blues-inflected vocal style - Lyle Lovett's If I Had A Boat, John Martyn's John The Baptist and the hitherto unfamiliar title track, a fine composition by local Mayo resident Tony Reidy that rather belies the image evoked by that title. I liked this album a lot, and look forward to hearing more of Céide. David Kidman

Folking.com Web Site

If none other than Matt Molloy recommends a band, you can rest assured you should be on pretty safe ground. I'm pleased to report that this CD met all expectations and then some. The line-up of flute, accordion, fiddle, guitar and double bass will undoubtedly bring comparisons to Lunasa etc but I personally think these lads have it if only for the fact they have included some vocals.

Reading from the sleeve notes gives a fair indication of what to look forward to and first impressions are that here the musicians have put a lot of thought into the construction of the set pieces by concentrating not only on the rhythms but the keys they are performed in as well. Years ago De Dannan sussed that if you played tunes in unusual keys such as Eb that the listener's ear isn't used to this and therefore makes your performance sound 'different' from the crowd. Ceide utilise this to good effect and, take for instance 'The Bucks Of Oranmore' in the key of A major this technique gives the tune more character. Off setting the tradition with contemporary songs including John Martyn's 'John The Baptist' definitely sets the band in a field of its own. I look forward to further outings. Pete Fyfe

Ita Kelly, Irish Music Magazine, Vol 7 No 3. Oct 2001

'The debut release from this Mayo based band is an interesting mix of traditional tunes and contemporary songs. Declan Askin is responsible for those songs and they represent his own influences and personal taste for the work of Lyle Lovett ('If I had a Boat') and John Martyn ('John the Baptist'). The title for the album 'Like a Wild Thing' is taken from a song written by Tony Reidy a singer songwriter from the village of Aghagower near Westport. It's an apt song for this Mayo based group, representative of the Céide area in North West Mayo where infrastructure is nil and the lot of the small farmer is very harsh as depicted in this song. Brian Lennon's low whistle permeates throughout and Kevin Doherty's bass is allowed to be heard very naturally. Tom Doherty on melodeon and accordion and John Mc Hugh on fiddle complete the Céide line-up. The perky Mrs. Kenny's Barndance again has the lovely dropping bass and the Pierre Bensusan tune 'Le Voyage' is beautiful, the 'Flowers of the Forest' sweet and 'John the Baptist' funky and a little Gospel. While this group achieves the full-blooded swing of the tunes sets they also have plenty of insight into music from farther afield than Co. Mayo.

Very thoughtfully arranged and great reading in the sleeve notes.' Fintan Vallely, Sunday Tribune

'Slick musicianship and great, solid arrangements.' Siobhan Long, Irish Times

'Débutantes Céide are a quintet with not just attitude, but finesse by the bucket load.' Gráinne Ní Ghilín, Foinse

'The song 'Like a Wild Thing' written by Tony Reidy from Aghagower, Co. Mayo is extremely powerful.given a heartbreaking rendition by Declan'

Irish Music Review Web Site

Back in the days when he had more money than sense, a certain friend of mine would gouge additional grooves into records to ensure, as a consequence, that those tracks he disliked were skipped by the needle. Of course, when he later had more sense than money, he found himself with a heap of unsellable vinyl and regularly being sneered at by Nottingham's own especially surly brand of second-hand record shop assistants. In subsequent years I sometimes wondered whether the advent of the compact disc player and its programmable facilities had been invented with him in my mind for, certainly, his fingers would be fiddling with the remote control's buttons to erase certain tracks from this debut album by Céide to create his own preferred version. In an interview in The Journal of Music in Ireland (Vol. 2, No. 2), the Cork singer Jimmy Crowley railed against the encroachment of 'mid-Atlanticisms' into Ireland's music: You see this a lot in younger people, I'm afraid. If someone from Kerry, say, sings an Irish song in an LA accent, that's the end of my interest. But if it's a Kentuckian singing in a Kentucky accent, that's great, of course. I'd criticise some singer/songwriters for these American accents. There's no worth in this mid-Atlantic stuff, they haven't been true to their culture, to the land they're living in. Often too, the songs aren't saying anything either.

There are many exceptions (for example, Danú, Altan, Dervish, Providence etc.) where singers have remained true to their roots and, importantly, their voices, but also far too many cases where songs from other genres are interpolated into the band's repertoire and delivered in the kind of accent that Jimmy despises.

As such, it is questionable whether Mr. Crowley would be especially enamoured with Céide's album Like a Wild Thing and, especially, the band's singer, Declan Askin, who has three outings of variable worth on the album. The first is John Martyn's John the Baptist from the 1970 album Stormbringer recorded with his wife Beverley. In the Martyns' hands, the song was an epic with the contrast between the pair's voices and the subtlety of the arrangement highlighting the latent violence of the relationship depicted in the lyrics. While noting that Scullion also recorded the song in 1979, Céide inform us that 'To improve on such history is very difficult, if not impossible, but we have tried to give the piece a contemporary groove, while highlighting the song's unusual lyrics'. Actually, they've turned it into a jaunty little singalong with Askin's mid-Atlantic drone and quasi-rock singer intonations to the fore, thereby losing any of the song's quirky impact.

Next up comes the title track, written by a County Mayo man, Tony Reidy, a song about the economic exigencies of a small farmer forced 'To make a living I must sit at a chair, Sit at a chair and stare at a screen'. This is far more successful and entirely because Declan forsakes any extraneous accents and sings in his own voice.

Lastly, however, comes a rendition so horrific that the album case should carry a warning sticker, a song interpreted so terribly that it makes Dessie O'Halloran sound like Christy Moore. The song in question is Lyle Lovett's If I Had a Boat. Céide's notes state that their 'arrangement, while deviating quite considerably from the original still shows what a talent Lyle is'. It certainly does, but not in the way the band intended. Askin sings as though he's auditioning for a biopic of Michael Bolton, albeit while suffering from a hernia and, as a consequence, manages to miss all the ironic humour of Lovett's lyrics.

The question is ultimately, of course, why a band based in Mayo should want to sing about Roy Rogers, Trigger, the Lone Ranger and Tonto (as Lyle understandably might) rather than about their own childhoods or locality (wherein lies part of the success of Like a Wild Thing). If this was not bad enough, Céide have employed one of modern musical technology's most irksome innovations, the hidden track. Islay Rant, though included in the track listings, appears several minutes after its predecessor. The novelty of this device has worn thinner than a cigarette paper. There is one further feature of Céide which may irritate some - the presence of a double bass player, one Kevin Doherty. In the Crowley interview quoted earlier, Jimmy also attacked what he sees as the increasing commercialism of Irish music: One result is that it's getting bland, and Ireland was never bland. Much of it sounds boring to me, too many not-very-good clones of the Bothy Band.

To this I would add a new phenomenon, the sub-Lúnasa clone and one that is likely to reappear thanks to the sales of their last album, The Merry Sisters of Fate, and its subsequent critical acclaim in the USA. Like a Wild Thing's opening track, yet another version of The Bucks of Oranmore, simply sounds too close to Lúnasa for comfort (albeit there's accordion instead of pipes, but the bass drone gives the game away and elsewhere Céide employ some of Lúnasa's trademark rhythmic shifts).

That being said other parts of Like a Wild Thing are at times excellent and others delightful. The best moments feature the flute and low whistles of Brian Lennon, a member of the prominent musical family from Leitrim (he is the son of Ben, the fiddler) and one of the most lyrical players around. Equally, Tom Doherty is no mean accordion and melodeon player and well to the fore on a set of jigs kick-started by The Woods of Old Limerick. Fiddler John McHugh, however, hardly gets a look in until the very last track (not the hidden one!) where his rendition of the slow jig The Pullet that Wants the Cock has all the kind of lugubrious qualities that make you check his photograph for signs of a pension book. Geoff Wallis

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