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
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:"
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.
He said, 'All I'm drinking is water from a stream
that's never dry
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.
No drought can make it run out, no matter how it
And I can't quite explain it in a way that I can
I said, 'I don't know what you're drinking, but
pour me a pint as well.'
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.
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
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
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
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.