A high point for me was The Mad Merry Pranks of Robin Goodfellow. This adaptation opens with a delicious string quartet which weaves in and out of a very spirited or, shall we say, spritely vocal delivery.
On When Daisies Pied/ When Icicles Hang by the Wall we hear a smooth flute floating through Shakespearen lyrics and set quaintly to the melody of "The Star of the County Down."
The Wind and The Rain is another favorite, with slightly syncopated rhythm and those Fugli vocals, which somehow manage to sound as if coming from some old Castle or Abbey. Like most of the tunes on this disk, you may feel the urge to sway to the rhythm, or even find a partner to dance with.
Ahh, I see that the good Fugli has seen fit to include an alternate mix of Robin Goodfellow in amongst Ye Olde Hidden Tracks. This arrangement doth surely raise the goosebumps on one's back.
Fugli concludes "Shakespeare: All the Frills" with a lush instrumental rendition of Scarlet's Alman. Grounded with a solid drum and bass line, with Fugli's classically styled and intricately layered guitar riffs.
It is good to hear a minstrel take on Shakespeare's works in such an innovative and fresh way. It is even better to hear it come from such an accomplished craftsman as Fugli, whose enjoyment of the piece is at once both evident and infectious.
[The following refers to files found only on the extra content CD version - not for download]
The Ghost of John: The Music Video
An extra special surprise from this disk is the music video of The Ghost of John. Fugli adds verses inspired by Shakespeare's King John to put a haunting, hilarious twist to this traditional tune. You'll want to have this video handy around Halloween.
The Real Fake Songbook
This is a great companion piece to the musical disk. There are notes, lyrics, and sheet music with guitar-friendly chords. Also included are detailed charts of the chords used in this work. There's even a nice bit on how to "Fuglize" the music!
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A particular favorite is "Past Times With Good Company." Is there anyone who has worked faire for ten years or more who is not familiar with this song? It is one of many songs that are not played that often at faires anymore. Hearing it on this album was a real treat.
Another tune that stands out is what seems to be the faire singer's contractual obligation song, "Wild Rover." This is a song that gets played to death, but here there is a fresh arrangement. This track could have been a throwaway, the nth recording of a song that has been played out, but instead it manages to make the song fun again. Taking a tired old tune and giving it new life is quite an accomplishment.
"The Celt Came Back" is another stand out song. Reminding me of the early works of Smee & Blog, this is a great send up of the "Cat Came Back". Clever lyrics tie this song into a tight package that will surely please any listener. If you close your eyes you can imagine this tune at any faire after hours party from years back.
This is a fun album that is a fine example of the Northern faire style of music. This is a CD that will take many a rennie back in time to old days at Bristol, TRF, or any number of other longstanding faires. This is the pure heart of renaissance faire music.
A track that truly stands out from the rest though is "Good King Wenceslas". Although the track is entirely instrumental, one is hard pressed to miss the lyrics. The song is simply so pure that it seems there should be no other way to listen to this song.
The only problem that this album has is one common to most Christmas album, most Christmas Carols are fairly short. One can easily find oneself wishing for a song to go on a bit longer, an extra refrain, a coda...anything.
Still, albums of this style and caliber are difficult to find. These days there is a shrinking number of renfolk who would consider releasing an album of Christian related music. The album is delightful and refreshing and is certainly will make a great stocking stuffer.