Ed McGurk | At Liberty

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Folk: British Folk World: Western European Moods: Type: Acoustic
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At Liberty

by Ed McGurk

At Liberty is a stimulating collection of some of Ed's favourite songs, both traditional and modern, being both a reprise of his musical journey from the distant Dylan days as well as an enthusiastic look towards the future.
Genre: Folk: British Folk
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Girl from the North Country
3:56 $0.99
2. Lord Franklin
5:08 $0.99
3. The Sheepstealer
3:26 $0.99
4. To Althea from Prison
4:14 $0.99
5. The Last Trip Home
4:39 $0.99
6. Diggery Venn
3:35 $0.99
7. Slightly Faded
3:43 $0.99
8. Summer Before the War
5:12 $0.99
9. Davey Lowston
5:02 $0.99
10. The Valley of Strathmore
4:37 $0.99
11. Tiny Fishes for Japan
3:20 $0.99
12. The Beaches of St Valery
5:15 $0.99
13. The Teller of Tales
4:01 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
“Thanks again for the C.D. - - - It has the "wow" factor for us, great songs, good variety and an excellent bunch of players backing you. It has now gone into the car, with a small select group of c.d’s that we listen too all the time - - - - great job Ed, I will be recommending it to people for sure. I will continue plugging your C.D, I think it is one of the best I've heard for a long time” – Andrew Clayton, Moorcock Acoustic

“…sweet vocal delicacy from Ed McGurk sent the audience away happy…” Anthony John Clarke

“Ed has produced the most gorgeous CD - believe me, it's a must-have for the car ....or with a good bottle of Rioja, or Ye old Redbreast Irish Pot Still Whiskey (highly-recommended), on a Friday night after work, or leisure.” Brian from Dublin

AT LIBERTY – Ed McGurk (Mad@Music BS.005)

The perennially self-effacing Ed has been an integral part of the Lancashire folk scene for many a year; he’s probably known best as a founder member of the ever-popular group Bandersnatch, although of late he’s additionally been returning to the more intimate duo performance format in renewing his earlier partnership with that excellent singer Nick Caffrey. But even that can be construed as hiding his considerable light under a bushel, so we can now count ourselves doubly fortunate to receive this (ostensibly-) solo CD from Ed, on which he performs a collection of his favourite songs. These can be taken, I guess, to signify a kind of personal journey from the Bob Dylan songs which sparked Ed’s own lifelong interest in folk song and music (here represented by Girl From The North Country), through the songs of the traditions and on to a generous handful of modern-day compositions from the likes of Davy Steele, Huw Williams, David Campbell and Andy M. Stewart. Ed turns in really classy performances of these songs, informed by a real understanding of their content and meaning that’s clearly the result of thorough, long-term acquaintance with the material. His attractive tenor voice has an understated richness that’s finely complemented by his gently inventive guitar playing, making each performance an intimate treasure, especially I might say when hearing him live (and as on the only truly solo rendition here, The Beaches Of St. Valery). For the bulk of this recorded artefact, though, Ed has chosen to cushion himself within a nicely-realised, softly etched (if at times perhaps just a touch too fulsomely upholstered) backdrop courtesy of his talented musician friends. When these are of the calibre of Jane and Amanda Threlfall, Roger Edwards, Martin Ellison, Steve Rothwell, Nick Caffrey and all five of Ed’s Bandersnatch colleagues, there can be no cause for complaint – and when the producer’s chair is filled by the ideally sympathetic Brian Bedford, well there’s icing on the cake indeed! My favourite tracks are those where Ed’s own talent is not subsumed, but intelligently enhanced, by the contributions of his friends; this gambit can succeed in different ways and by adopting varied styles of accompaniment, from (just to pick out a few instances of specific detail) the carefully managed interpolations of electric guitar on The Sheepstealer to the gentle tidal vocal harmonies on Davey Lowston, the tender dual-squeezebox traceries on Tiny Fish For Japan to the beauteous fiddle and viola ornamentation on To Althea From Prison. A definitive disc highlight is Last Trip Home, which scores highly for its brilliantly judged mix of forward momentum and tender affection, while on the other hand there are instances on just one or two songs where Ed’s desire to maintain that animated momentum might seem to get the better of him and sometimes textures can also get very slightly cluttered by a degree of over-instrumentation. That’s a minor observation, as is the necessary concomitant to Ed’s thoughtful style and approach – that there’s a certain inescapable evenness of tone and pace throughout the disc. Even so, you can’t help but find Ed’s renditions of these songs most persuasive, and this is a gem of a disc that will give much pleasure from its accessible blend of the familiar and the unfamiliar, all in well-considered and better-than-reliable performances that in many cases can be counted among the most satisfying renditions of those particular songs currently available on record.

David Kidman
Review in Folk Roundabout Issue 162

CD Review Ed McGurk - At Liberty
Ed McGurk is a member of the well known North-west group Bandersnatch and he now also sings in a duo with Nick Caffrey. He has been singing for many years, notably in the early 1970s with the Lancashire based groups Nevis and Litany, but this, somewhat surprisingly, is his first solo album and it is a real pleasure for me to be able to review it.
From the opening track, which is Bob Dylan's 'Girl From The North Country', it is obvious that Ed has that special talent of making a song his own in a very special way. His voice isn't particularly rich but is nevertheless powerful and melodic and, possibly more importantly, very clear and precise. His inventive guitar accompaniments are varied and appropriate for each of the songs. He follows the opening track with a version of 'Lord Franklin' that, again successfully, makes it sufficiently different from the many versions I have heard and holds the attention of the listener. The inspiration for the CD's title comes in part from the song 'To Althea From Prison' which is based on a 17th century poem by Richard Lovelace which Dave Swarbrick made into a song. Ed's rendition of Davy Steele's 'The Last Trip Home' and 'The Beaches Of St. Valery' are classic songs well performed. 'Diggery Venn' is a song that was performed by The Yetties and not often heard these days but Ed breathes new life into it. Other classic songs include David Campbell's 'Slightly Faded', Huw William's 'Summer Before The War' and Stan Roger's 'Tiny Fish For Japan'. The one song that is new to me (or at least I don't remember hearing it before) is Terry Doherty's 'The Teller of Tales' with which Ed concludes the album. Throughout this CD there is an air of performer maturity and professionalism which is enhanced by creative accompaniments, both vocal and musical, on various tracks from Jane and Amanda Threllfall, Martin Ellison, Roger Edwards, Nick Caffery, Steve Rothwell, Ed’s wife Sheila and Ed's colleagues from Bandersnatch, Becky and Norman Raw, Ian Kell, Alan Roscoe and Dennis Dodds. Brian Bedford has done a great job in recording all these talented performers together but rightly retaining Ed as the 'front man' throughout. Finally, the presentation of the CD with its booklet giving comprehensive information on the songs and performers makes for an attractive production. This is a cracking debut CD that is a delight to listen to.
'Giff' - Review Folk North West Magazine



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