The Electrics

The Electrics
Artist: The Electrics
Label: Sarabellum Records/5 Minute Walk Records
By: Jeremy Choi 

With only a handful of notable bands in the Christian market creating half-decent Celtic-influenced folk and rock music, the Electrics have set themselves apart as one of the most authentic and intense bands of this genre. Garnering a very loyal followi ng with their previous efforts, Visions and Dreams (1991), Big Silent World (1993) and The Whole Shebang (1995), The Electrics have become a popular act in the U.K., so much so that Frank Tate, President of 5 Minute Walk Records, signed them to his label's Sarabellum Records, shortly after seeing them live in Europe.

Perhaps the biggest strength in this trio of Sammy Horner (vocalist and principal songwriter), David McArthur (drums) and Paul Baird (guitars and background vocals) is that they are actually from Scotland, which lends them a much greater sense of credibility, perhaps, than a US-based Celtic-rock band. And, of course, the apparent resurgence of popular appreciation for Celtic music of all stripes does not hurt, for example the popularity of artists such as Ashley MacIsaac, The Crossing and Anuna, not to mention the entire Riverdance phenomenon. 

The obvious diversity of music on this album can be attributed to a host of other musicians who have lent their talents in helping sculpt an absolutely enjoyable album, which is delightful not just to listen to, but also one that can easily involve the listener in foot-tapping, head-bobbing, or even getting up and doing a jig with nearby friends or strangers. Aside from the three main players handling vocal, drum and guitar duties, seven other musicians play an assortment of instruments (uilleann pipes, accordians, mandolins, whistles, as well as background vocals). As a result, all fourteen songs on this album reflect the talent behind the music, not least Horner's strongly melodic musical writing style and the band's careful instrumental arrangements. These songs are beautiful, and reveal strong Celtic roots and influences. One that comes to mind is the benedictory "The Blessing." Set to calming music with an assortment of instruments (and lovely electric guitar and fiddle solo bridges), the following words are offered with encouragement to the listener: 

    As you make your way through this old world of ours 
    As you see the beauty of the morning dew 
    As you smell the summer flowers 
    As you pass away the hours 
    May the saints and saviour watch over you.
Many of these songs are written from first-person perspective and weaved together and delivered with a story-telling type of approach. These stories cover a number of topics including selfishness, vanity and pretentiousness ("Two Buns"), and gratitude an d thankfulness ("Here's To You"). Perhaps the most striking set of lyrics on this album can be found on the track, "Pour Me a Pint:"   
    He said, 'All I'm drinking is water from a stream that's never dry  
    No drought can make it run out, no matter how it might try 
    And I can't quite explain it in a way that I can tell...' 
    I said, 'I don't know what you're drinking, but pour me a pint as well.'
Along with the original songs, they also cover Sam Hill's, "I Believe in Freedom," perform the popular folk favourite "Irish Rover," and include an extremely danceable instrumental piece, "The Jig." There is also a special hidden track on the album for those who like to keep the CD players running for these kind of things.  

Sammy Horner's vocals are similar to Paul Northup of Eden Burning, but unlike the Reid brothers of the Proclaimers, his accent is not overtly noticeable, except in a few songs. Fans of Great Big Sea, the Proclaimers, Iona, and the Pogues will no doubt be impressed with this record, as will anybody who has a pulse. 

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Having heard of The Electrics for years, and following them for a couple  of those, it's been a strange experience to pick up the recent buzz about them from the USA.  This album is something of a 'best of...' with all tracks re-recorded under the watchful eye of Masaki Liu (Dime Store  Prophets). Many favourites are here and are definitely sounding better than ever but I was a bit disappointed that a couple of others  were missing ("Only The Hip Shall Be Redeemed" springs to mind). Musically, the sound is tight British folk-rock, not anything ground breaking (in Britain at least), but well played and coupled with fun and insightful lyrics. -- James Stewart 
 
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Pipes, penny whistles, pubs, and pints. This is manly music created and played by manly men from Scotland and Ireland true to their roots, who know their way around a public house equally as well as a church. The "whole shebang" adds up to a rollickin' good time, a refreshing change from standard CCM cliched rock.-- Linda T. Stonehocker 
 
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All-righty then!  Woo-hoo!  The Electrics are here, all the way from Scotland, with their heavily ethnic brand of rock ("pub rock!"). Ethnic in the Scottish sense--the traditional guitars, bass and drums are joined by pipes, mandolin, fiddle, keyboards, whistles, and an accordian!  The accordion even adds a slight Cajun feel to the music, which is, I don't know, weird. Sammy Horner's voice sometimes reminds me of old Bruce Springsteen a little, if Springsteen had been born in Ireland instead. 

There are a couple of acoustic songs, but for the most part it's all high-energy "raise your beer glass" music.  The lyrics are typically story-based (Scottish music), and meant to convey a cool spiritual truth.  Each time I listen to this disc, it fully pumps me up for about the first three songs.  I'm nodding my head, really enjoying the experience, sort of like I do with ska (similar repetitious rhythmic quality here).  Then I hit the ballad, which is nice. After that, it all starts sounding the same and I gradually realize it's really irritating.  For me this is just going to be a novelty album, best experienced a couple tunes at a time once in a while.  For fans of fast Irish, Scottish, bluegrass, Cajun, AND rock-n-roll, though, this will probably set you dancing a jig with joy for hours. --Josh Spencer 

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The British Isles is sending a lot of great music across the Atlantic lately. From Scotland, the newest group is the Electrics, a wonderful blend of rock and Irish folk music.  You'll find the usual guitars, drums, and keyboards plus Uilleann pipes, an accordion, a fiddle, a whistle and a mandolin. The Celtic influence is everywhere and is sure to have you tapping your toe.  Highlights are "The Whole Shebang," "Here's to You," and "I Believe in Freedom."  While most of these songs are light and sometimes humorous, they do have a point to them. For example, "Two Buns" is a humorous look at "someone who's only looking out for number one."  Give this release a try.  It's sure to lift your spirits. --Shari Lloyd 

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