Link to Living Tradition Homepage






Private Label SSP#1

A group of Irish musicians in the USA decide to make a recording. They find a house, arrange a party, and invite a couple of sound engineers. With a bit of rehearsal and arrangement, the end result is an hour of straight Irish trad music on flutes, fiddles, pipes, whistle, box and bouzouki. That's pretty much Dan Isaacson's Simple System - nothing wrong with it. Just be aware that this is not a studio quality album, there is little if any post-production polish, and I don't imagine there were too many retakes. That said, there are remarkably few blemishes on this warts-and-all CD. The flute is rather breathy at times, the percussion is a bit low in the mix (you won't often read that in my reviews), but otherwise the music is up to good session quality, and the live atmosphere is certainly a plus.

Reels are very much the order of the day, seven sets of the fifteen here. Anderson's, The Curragh Races, Pat the Budgie, Touch Me If You Dare and The Reel Of Bogie are among the well known favourites, while The Flowers Of Munster and I'm Waiting For You are not tunes I recognise. Only two tracks of jigs, the first a casual name-drop using Tommy Peoples' tune Dave & Don's written for Mr Isaacson and friend: worth including, though, and so is Tommy's other composition Dooish. The second set of jigs ends this album with The Lark On The Strand and a pair of Gan Ainm gems. A couple of hornpipes, including the provocatively titled Madam If You Please, are delivered at a fair clip but still with enough of a swagger. Untitled highlands and barndances, and two tasty waltzes, account for the remaining tracks. The barndances are a fine example of Dan Isaacson's delicate bouzouki combined with the flickering feet of Kelly Smit, a pairing which was a highlight of this collection for me. I have to say that the fiddle outshines the flutes on other tracks - Danny Noveck has a light but compelling touch, probably from the West Clare Noveck clan, while the flute style tends towards the Cavan branch of the Isaacsons. In all seriousness, there's a lot to enjoy here, and Simple System is a fine achievement. has a full range of samples.

Alex Monaghan

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 91 of The Living Tradition magazine.