on July 8, 2004
This CD is an instant good mood for me. It is one of the three CDs that own two copies of - one for home, and one for the office. (The others are Yes - Close to the Edge, and Rush - Permanent Waves. Is there a pattern? I doubt it.)
Great Big Sea's recipe for success is to take traditional Newfoundland maritime folk songs, whose roots may be from Ireland, Scotland, or French Canada, and add 'spice it up'. For example, the song Mari-Mac on this album was a traditional song that got a healthy dose of testoscerone in the GBS rendition. The hidden track on this CD is a rap version of the poem 'The Jolly Beggerman'. Another artist from the Canadian Maritimes, Ashleigh MacIsaac, did the same sort of thing with his rather hard-edged (but fun) 'Hi, How Are You Today' album, but GBS pulls it off in a way that both your buddies and your mother can enjoy.
We use this CD for a lot of different purposes. My kids (ages 7 and 9) put certain tracks on 'Repeat' and dance for a half hour or so (they especially like the hidden track). On St. Patrick's Day, I snuck 'The Night Paddy Murphy Died' into our on-hold music at work, and callers asked to be put back on hold. Numerous Chinese friends have used the tongue-twister lyrics in Mari-Mac as their English test - if you can understand that, you're ready for anything.
In summary, if you're looking for great party music, some beer-thirty on Friday night music, something to get you through your commute in a good mood, or something to wake you up and get your feet moving, then this CD is for you.
on November 13, 1998
My musical taste has generally been hard rock and it was getting old and tired for me. I live in Massachusetts and I caught Great Big Sea doing an outdoor live concert from snowy Marble Mountain, Newfoundland on my satellite receiver.
I couln't believe my ears. I had been looking for something new and this band was proud, bold, rockin and entertaining like no other band I've ever known.
I can only best describe the music as happy, whimsical, and spirited. Music you can sing-a-long to, dance to or relax to. I obtained their first three Canadian CD's, Great Big Sea, Up and Play and I became a serious fan.
Their US release of Rant and Roar is a fantastic compilation and more of some of their best music. There is not a single lousy track. I highly recommend you buy the CD and you'll find yourself playing it over and over, again and again.
I love them so much, my wife Donna and I traveled to Halifax, Nova Scotia to see them perform. Don't miss a chance to see them live.
on October 27, 1998
A great album. It's like a "best of" UP and PLAY, GBS's latter two albums. I saw them live a few years ago in Prince Edward Island TWICE, the first time when they were called a 'party band' in a bar... not too many people showed because not too many people heard of them. I bought the album UP because I LOVED the music. Then I saw them again (this time the tickets were $20 instead of $8) and they were a sellout to a loud and dancing crowd in Charlottetown. That's when I first heard General Taylor, and the band got a standing ovation after singing it because of the power in the song. Even though I listen and love every song on this album, my faves are Ordinary Day, When I'm up, Mari-Mac (in concert they sing it faster and FASTER and FASTER), End of the World (Great version), Fast as I can (One of the first songs I ever heard by them), The Night Pat Murphy Died (My fave song on this album... this is how I want to go), Goin' up (Everybody loves this song), General Taylor (of course), Lukey (How can you not get caught singing along with this one?), The Old Black Rum (Ho ho ho... gotta LOVE this one) and Rant and Roar (perfect song to end the album like they ended UP). Buy this album people... if you want good music to sing along to... even if you DON'T like Celtic music... you'll love this.
on January 30, 2004
These guys opened for the Chieftans (with Sinead O'Conner) in 1998. I saw them in San Diego and had no idea who they were. They stole the show, poor Chieftans.
If there's only one comment to make about this album, its that it will put you in a good mood. As people have said in the other reviews, it WILL cause you to sing along. I have a convertible, and I'm sure there are farm animals across the country who know all the words to Rant and Roar now.
But seriously, these guys have a great energetic delivery with enough parts gravel and enough parts silk. There are different singers and enough song variety that, after seven years, this is still my favorite CD. Do I need to say more?
In case you're wondering what my music tastes are so you can match up whether or not you'd like it... here goes:
I like alternative rock. I just don't follow pop-rock and will always gravitate towards classic rock. I appreciate good singer-songwriters. When I want to listen to finely crafted symphonies, I will listen to finely crafted symphonists like Rufus Wainwright or Mark Knopfler(Dire Straits). When I want brainless entertainment, then its Mosquitos or Puddle of Mud. If I want to get revved up Love and Rockets or System of a Down will do the trick. When I want to get mellow, I'll listen to Tom Waits or Marc Cohn. When I want to listen to music that makes me feel good or if I just don't know what I want to listen to, then I'll put on some Great Big Sea. There's a time and place for everything, GBS's Rant and Roar somehow finds its time and place more often than anything else I own and has now for seven years.
Basically, if you're the type that would read this far, then you'd like it.
on December 10, 2003
I was really surprised to find that Amazon reviewers seem to love this CD so much.
As some reviewers have said, it is catchy! But so is pop, which is music I generally try to avoid. I think that the test of truly good music is that you can listen to it again and again and it continues to move you and speak to you. This falls really flat on that scale.
OH THE VOCALS! Now I don't know the members of the band, so fans forgive me. They seem to have two vocalists, one who does a lot of the upbeat stuff and another who handles ballads. The first is harsh, the second has no edge. Neither really convince you of their talent, and they struggle to hold pitch. As a musician, that just drives me nuts--they sound like amateurs.
There are highlights-"General Taylor," "Old Black Rum," and the title track come to mind as pretty good songs. Another reviewer called "Night Pat Murphy Died" his or her favorite song on the album, and it has to be my least favorite. If it were really celebrating Patty Murphy's life (with drinking, etc.) as a wake should, then it would be fun. But it's really about just about a bunch of alcoholics... a guy died, and we're making fun of his widow and using his coffin as a refrigerator.
"Fast as I Can" is a good message, but I just can't get past how the harsh songs get grating and the ballads get cloying after just a few listens. The catchiness fades, and leaves you feeling empty. Really, people, you deserve to listen to better music than this.
When you're in a musical rut and need to be jogged out of it, this CD would do a good job... just don't expect it to keep you there. Great Big Sea has its place, but a lot of its appeal is lost on a CD--it is better suited to playing at a local pub. You can drink and have fun and not have to pay attention to all of the bad things that I mentioned.
on March 15, 2000
Moderators: If it's possible to remove my previous review and substitute what's below, please do. What I wrote is inaccurate.
--- cut here ----
The hidden track, Johnny Dhu, AKA Beggarman's Song, is actually also hidden on Play. Nothing new on this album if you own all their other stuff. (The old black rum had a hold on me when I briefly posted otherwise, sorry!)
If you _don't_ own all their other stuff, this "Best of" is a good one to buy. They do some traditional-based folk and Newfoundland music with heavy Celtic influences (my favourite part), but they're not as flat and boring and musically uninteresting as many Celtic bands. Their arrangements are imaginative, with lots of twists, but unlike those of some of the other more raucous bands, seem to reflect an understanding of the music they are interpreting, and music in general. So a fair bit of maturity for such young guys, but they still ROCK. A rare combination.
The original stuff is not bad. Doyle writes nice ballads, and their more pop-oriented tunes and covers are very catchy. IMHO, one of the most versatile bands I've seen come along in many years. If your taste agrees with mine (Carthy and Swarbrick are God; Oysterband, old Fairport [not the band that currently wears the name] and June Tabor are cool), and you're looking for something fresh or from this side of the water, give Newfie a try.
on June 20, 1998
I heard this band first in Canada and immediately bought all their releases fearing that i would be unable to find them in the U.S. . Luckily American listeners will not be denied their high energy blend of traditional and rock arrangements and instrumentation in this album which is a re-titling of their latest Canadian album "Up." While somewhat immatative of 'The Oyster Band,' Big Blue Sea has a sound all its own....it's hard to sit still while listening them, so don't try as i did plugging them into a CD player on a crammed airplane; the people squashed next to you may give you strange looks as you tap and try to dance while in your seat at 30,000 feet. As well as their high enery dance and roudy drinking songs, the band has a few original ballards about relationships that have a universal ring, and political songs which speak particularly to the hardships facing Maritime communities. The album doesn't Rant at all...it's eloquent and joyful, melodic and rythmic and wonderful!
on November 13, 1998
As was the case with one of the other reviewers here, I, too, saw GBS at the Fleadh back in June -- and I saw them completely by accident! With the rain pouring down, i sought out the first shelter, and upon entering the nearest tent I was overwhelmed with this band's electrifying sound and stage presence. I was quite impressed, but missed the opportunity to buy the album there. I then spent two weeks trying to track it down here on Long Island, finally locating it at one of the local shops. From the first time I listened to it, I was hooked. I had found a new favorite band. From June to October, I listened to this album exclusively while driving. From the heart-felt "Fast As I Can", to the energetic "Goin Up" , to the a capella "General Taylor", to the raucous "Mari-Mac", you'll quickly find yourself tapping your fingers and singing along at the top of your voice! A perfect union of rock and Celtic/Irish traditional music.
on March 7, 2001
I was introduced to Great Big Sea while listening to Radio Canada International. Some of their shows used a few GBS tunes as bumper music, then didn't tell me who they were! I was going mad.I had to find out who this bunch of b'ys were. After I found out, I discovered that you couldn't buy any GBS CDs in the U.S. No matter. I imported them from Canada, and they've been an integral part of my musical life ever since. There are none to compare. Their style is their own. Beware! They become an addiction. You'll laugh, you'll cry. But mostly you'll feel really good while you're listening and at least for the rest of the day. Alan is one of a kind, vocally and as a performer. The rest of the guys are talented, energetic, and in love with their material and their Newfoundland. Buy every one of their CDs, now that they're available. And at least once in your life, see them live. The love affair will last forever.
on December 3, 2002
Yes, from out of the blue, we caught these guys at a Celtic concert in San Diego during the summer of 2002. They weren't billed as the "headliners" (a mistake) but they blew everyone away -- so much in fact, the much ballyhooed final act had to endure "Great Big Sea" crowd chants through most of their set. *Ouch*
While all Great Big Sea musical efforts are worthy, this CD is particularly special. Maybe it's because my wife hasn't removed it from the CD player in her Subaru Forester since I bought it for her (the CD *and* the car). Funny, every time I move her car into the driveway at night, I'm treated to a Great Big Sea tune from this CD. Is it any wonder that I sit in the car and linger awhile in the driveway until the tune is over. But it always seems as though I'm hearing the tune for the very first time.
Great Big Sea is a music lover's band.