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JohnG

Craggs Family Album

I've been writing a review for Marty Craggs' latest recording venture. I thought I'd share it with anyone who's interested in keeping up with former band members. So here goes:

For most blokes of a certain age, ie my age, the dreams of one day scoring at Wembley or kicking a drop goal at Twickenham are firmly in the past. Our moments of reverie are more likely to focus on more sedentary activities such as performing with the guitar that you bought in the sixties that has languished in the attic for decades. Maybe having the chance of performing a couple of old Paul Simon's at a festival is still an achievable goal.
If you are my age and an accomplished and acclaimed musician and have performed around the world including the Cropredy Convention, Guilfest and Glastonbury what is there left to dream about? How about making an album with your musical kids? What a blast that would be.
One such accomplished musician has fulfilled this dream
Marty Craggs who performed around the world for the best part of two decades with folk/rock legends Lindisfarne is often described as a multi instrumentalist. This is a little like saying that Lewis Hamilton drives a bit. Marty plays keyboards, percussion, accordion and, I suspect, anything with which you can make a sound by blowing it.
He is also blessed with the most remarkably powerful, soulful singing voice. His career is now with the Happy Cats who, along with amazing castles, miles of beautiful sandy beaches and purple crested hills  are some of the North-East's best kept secrets. They play several gigs each week in small venues within easy driving distance of Newcastle and their devoted supporters fill the venues to the rafters, sing their hearts out and make every gig a party. Social media often reports on the Happy Cats fan's holy grail, the three gig weekend.
Not surprisingly, considering they grew up in  a home often visited by Alan Hull, Newcastle's finest song-writing son, and a plethora of local musicians, Marty's children have grown up with music in their blood and soul in their, well, soul.
Son Andrew, after graduating with a first in Performing Arts from Cumbria, is now an actor/musician based in Brighton. He can be seen performing with renowned Sussex Cajun band Rough Chowder. If Dad plays anything you can blow, Andrew has centred on things you pluck or bow. He is more than competent on guitar, mandolin, bass, piano and 'cello.
Beverley is a singer whose vocals are similar in timbre and tone to Amy MacDonald. Her Dad employed her extensively to provide some fabulous backing and harmony vocals on his band's most recent studio album Take My Hand.
So with the membership of the group settled several years ago they set off to a studio in Bexhill for a few days of intensive recording, the result of which is this album entitled imaginatively The Craggs Family Album. They have eschewed the opportunity to present favourite tracks from their lives and brought us thirteen brand new Craggs shaped nuggets of music and lyric.
Listening to the songs, it is easy to pick out some of the influences on Marty from a lifetime in music that have been passed on to his children. The cajun/ Americana is prominent in the opening tracks Still Rolling and the bewildering Chicken Song. There's a clear nod to his passion for Irish music in Anjelene McLeod a song I can already hear being sung in the pubs of Galway.
In Last Chance Shoot Out Andrew takes lead vocal and it is immediately apparent that he has inherited the powerful Craggs vocal chords in a fine piece of RnB.
Lead vocal changes throughout the album until the track I Can't Cry which is a fabulous bluesy song led by Beverley at her most huskily soulful and, dare I say, sexy. The album ends with Settle Down and Beverley shows her amazing versatility by presenting a hauntingly beautiful tune with a voice of guileless purity.
If on first listening I had to choose a favourite track it would probably be Spanish Gold which I suspect will soon be a favourite of the Happy Cats fans. However, I am already finding that Pirate Song is growing on me so I won't decide on a favourite yet. Give me a few weeks.
Derek

Craggs Family Album

Excellent and very informative review John- sounds a fascinating venture. I found some samples on Amazon which also emphasise the musical variety on offer from the Craggs clan and I look forward to ordering the CD soon. Best wishes, Derek.
Mick

I must get my hands on this album. Thanks John
Waldo

Craggs family album

Thank you for posting such an enlightening review John. Can't wait to hear this now Smile

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