The nicest thing that can happen to a singer is to find that a good song; here, in my opinion, are thirteen of the best, plus one instrumental for good measure.
Kilkelly came to me across a crowded Irish bar in Wilmington, Delaware, and impressed me immediately. Sung by that fine singer Danny Doyle, the starkness of its sentiments reduced two hundred noisy drinkers to pin-drop silence within seconds. No less impressive is Flowers Are Red, from my favourite songwriter, Harry Chapin. I first recorded this song of childhood ten years ago, and it's still the most requested item of my repertoire, so here she comes again — with thanks to those friends who won't let a good song fade away. Cheeky Young Lad tells of problems further up the adolescent ladder, and The Rats Are Winning takes us into adulthood. There can hardly be one of us who hasn't felt, at some time, that the title's sentiments are only too true.
The city of Glasgow features largely in my life, and that's reflected in this album. I Wish I Was In Glasgow, from the more serious side of comedian Billy Connolly, chronicles the affection in which the town is held by her wandering sons, particularly the musical ones. My Home Town, written for me by Alan Reid, gives a different vision of the place, at once perceptive, nostalgic — and above all, melodic. Ian Ingram's Annie McKelvie, also in a near-Glasgow setting, takes us into the realms of that thorny subject, love. The melody in the middle of this tale of gentle jilting is an afternoon tea-dance favourite called, appropriately enough, Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms. Christine Lavin's Roses From The Wrong Man, which gave me half of the album's name, is about a different romantic problem, a surfeit of suitors.
The other half of the title came from Acceptable Risks. How should we respond to the injustice so clearly drawn in this song? With pity for the victims' plight, or with anger at the obscene cynicism which caused it? Surely both — but without forgetting that it ends on a positive note; a call for action. Remember When The Music, another Chapin song, is positive from a different angle. It's about the optimism which seemed to surround us in the early singing days, when we were sure that a banjo, guitar, fiddle, or a set of good words would put the world to rights; some of us are still hoping. And the guts it takes to keep hoping through the hard times is also the theme of Dave Sudbury's The King Of Rome.
And lastly.... If I Had A Boat is dedicated to all life's Tontos, from Glasgow to Galveston, The Hug Song released the lurking Satchmo in Alan Reid — and Dill Pickle Rag allowed all three of us to indulge in our shared guilty secret — a passion for riotous Ragtime.
Somewhere between the Roses and the Risks, after all, you've got to have a little fun.
I've often had fun and pleasure making music with good musician friends, but never have I enjoyed myself so much as getting together again and recording this album with Brian McNeill and Alan Reid. The good taste, subtlety, expertise and sometimes crazy abandon of their music and arrangements confirmed my opinion that I've been working with two of the best musicians in the country.
The boys done good ! The fourth musketeer (must get beer?) "Peerless" Peter (Iain-for-God's-sake-sing-us-a-happy-song) Haigh, sound engineer and sound man, who at the mixing desk, tweaked and twiddled us all to immortality...
RISKS & ROSES