This charming, funny, sad and occasionally downright silly collection of old and more contemporary folk songs has been plucked from the jaws of obscurity by one Brian Dewan. Along with two rock albums, this is one of Brian's semi-annual series of folk compilations unearthed from boot fairs, old schoolbooks and antique shops during his browsings. The daft ditty which is the title track appropriately starts the journey with words of wisdom inspiring the listener variously not to step on rakes, bathe in the sink and take a dose of aspirin if your head hurts! It is followed by one of the few attributed songs (Ean Hay) and my personal favourite, "The Kettle Valley Line", a hobo song of railroad hopping. Accompanied by pump organ, autoharp and acoustic guitar in the main, the mostly 2 to 3 minute songs range from 200 years old, through the depression to more recent events such as a local authority's plumbing dispute with its residents and a San Franciscan bay whale.
Anyone who remembers Jake Thackeray, might be reminded of his gentle humour in the lyrics of songs like "Tobacco's just an Indian weed", "The Devil made Texas" the Big Rock Candy Mountains" and "Girls of Ohio". "Only a brakeman" and "I cannot sing the old songs" on the other hand shows the tender side of this selection and, in Mirimachi Fire, its tragedy. There's also a hefty dose of black humour in many of the songs such as Blue-haired boy" and "Carve that possum". The funniest track on the whole album however has to be the duet Brian does with himself in "Mountaineer's Wedding" playing the female role in a hilarious falsetto.
Brian has a many faceted career which also encompasses artwork production including They Might be Giants' Lincoln album. This album will certainly cheer you up.
1. Words of wisdom
2. The Kettle Valley Line
3. The Civil War
4. Horse named Bill
5. Tobacco's but an Indian weed
6. The Devil made Texas
7. Only a brakeman
8. There was an old woman
9. The Mirimachi fire
10. The Big Rock Candy Mountains
11. Girls of Ohio
12. Blue-haired boy
13. Carve that Possum
14. The Mountaineer's wedding
16. I cannot sing the old songs