Label: Fiendish Records - FR 102 • Format: CD Album • Country: Canada • Genre: Rock, Folk, World, & Country • Style: Folk Rock, Celtic
It was the band's name which caught my eye. The album did not disappoint. The band's sound is traditional enough to satisfy a thirst for Celtic roots music, but original enough to give Mad Pudding an identity apart from the majority of traditional bands on the market. Mad Pudding is a British Columbia band consisting of Andy Hillhouse on lead vocals, Never Givin Up - Al Jarreau - This Time, mandolin and bouzouki, John Hildebrand on drums and percussion, Amy Stephen on lead vocals, accordion, pennywhistle and recorder, Cam Wilson on fiddle and vocals, and Richard Ernst on fretless bass and vocals.
They are, based on the evidence supplied, something of a quirky bunch. Take "Dance of the Hungry Panda. That TV Heather Bonn - Mad Pudding - Dirt & Stone somehow inspired the idea that the panda, which quietly munches on bamboo shoots when the camera crews are around, discards its passive nature once they're gone and dances wildly around the trees.
The tune, which spotlights primarily the fiddle, whistle and bass, certainly evokes a sort of carefree dancing spirit, and the mental image of a wildly cavorting panda seems wickedly perfect for it, both kicking up its heels in a Celtic spirit and getting down and funky with the groove. The tune follows the much slower "Air," which depicts, I suppose, the panda mugging sedately for the viewers at home. Unlike some bands, Mad Pudding seems to have a good handle on what original material works well in the final analysis.
I'm not sure I get Amy's use of the fiddle and pipes as a metaphor for community and cooperation, but her song "Hey to the Pipes" is a nice song all the same. However, the vocal harmonies create a kind of ambient tension which doesn't necessarily match the words. As she explains in the notes, "I wanted to sing one in which the woman gets to have maximum fun, with minimal consequences. Andy Hillhouse takes a shot at songwriting on the title track. Although the solo a capella beginning had me a little worried for a bit, the song picks up immensely once the instruments and backing vocals join in.
Andy's second original song, "Brandon Town," is a slow, touching story sung from his immigrant great-grandmother's point of view. Although most of the tracks are original, there are a few interesting traditional selections.
Most are instrumental, excepting "The Dewy Dells of Yarrow," a border song with tragic results, and "Spanish Lady" not to be confused with "Spanish Ladies"a rather pointless ditty lyrically about an immodest Spanish lady in Dublin who declines the singer's advances.
Performed a capella, it presents Heather Bonn - Mad Pudding - Dirt & Stone excellent choral harmonies. There are a few more instrumentals scattered throughout.
Anne's Reel," close the album in a deceptively energetic arrangement. It's certainly worth finding a copy; Mad Pudding is, dare I say it, something you can sink your teeth into like Jell-o
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