Years of Spooner
Sub-titled A Compilation Of Songs Danny Has Sung Between 1965 - 2005 and released in 2007, Danny Spooner's Years Of Spooner is a superlative anthology of this folk legend's first forty years of recordings.
Many of the songs on this compilation were originally released on Spooner's early vinyl albums that sadly are no longer available and that you'll be very lucky to to find as a collector's item. Many of these albums have, at least so far, never been re-issued on CD. Having heard these myself, I have to say this is a great pity (but there may well be rights issues that could have prevented re-issues) as, one and all, they are amazing treasures. (As indeed is any Danny Spooner album.) But at least we now have this wonderful anthology.
Right from the earliest of these recordings Spooner's legendary abilities of storytelling through song and drawing the listener into his stories, as well as his extraordinary, sensitive and expressive voice are already there, as are his conviction and passion as well as humour. The songs themselves are a delightful mix of the old and traditional and the more modern, the latter going right up to popular (and sadly recently retired) Cockney duo Chas & Dave's Wish I Could Write A Love Song from Spooner's 1987 album When a Man's In Love. (This was re-issued as a CD in 2002 but is currently out of print.) Other albums that songs are drawn from include I Got This One From... (1986), Limbo (1978) - an outstanding album with Mick Farrell on uileann pipes - Danny Spooner And Friends (1978), and We'll Either Bend Or Break 'Er (1988, re-issued on CD 2002/out of print), as well as a broadcast on Australian ABC radio. Geographically, the material comes from the British Isles - England, Ireland and Scotland are represented - as well as Australia.
The sheer breadth of material on this compilation is both astonishing and delightful. It also serves as a broad overview of Spooner's not only incredibly varied but also almost unbelievably huge repertoire. (And he can remember literally a couple of thousand or more songs at the drop of a hat!)
On the Scottish songs, it is a delight to hear Danny Spooner's very credible Scottish accent, and likewise it is a pleasure to note that on the Irish songs there is no sign of an exaggerated or badly imitated Irish accent. Throughout all the songs, Spooner's diction is as flawless as one is used to from him, making it easy to follow the lyrics. In addition, there are full lyrics and annotations for each song in the excellent sleeve notes.
Compilations, by their very nature, do not often form a cohesive whole. However, Years Of Spooner most decidedly and most satisfyingly does, despite covering a period of forty years. It is also an utterly consistent album, with each track as strong as the others. Years Of Spooner is also far more than compelling - it's positively addictive! This album is just utterly enchanting, charming, witty, touching, and a sheer joy. This is music with and from a very big heart.
If Years Of Spooner has one flaw, it's that it leaves you wanting more. But that's not really a bad thing. Maybe we could hope for a more extensive, two or even three-disc anthology for "50 Years of Spooner" in a few years' time. One can always hope, anyway.
In the meantime, Danny Spooner's Years Of Spooner is beyond essential for any good folk collection and certainly would fit very nicely into any good general world music collection. If you don't have a Danny Spooner album in your collection yet, this would be a perfect start. And if you only ever buy one Spooner album, this wonderful anthology would also be an excellent choice. Make sure though you grab Years Of Spooner before it sells out!
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