Eric Bogle,
At This Stage
(Greentrax, 2005)

What can I say? We get a feast or a famine. And in music of the best of contemporary folk, 2005 is a very bountiful year. Just weeks after releasing a wonderful five-CD set, Greentrax now offers us a marvelous double CD by Eric Bogle.

You may think if you have the big beautiful box you don't need this -- but you'd be wrong. Well, it's wrong if you love music, lyrics, song backgrounds and good entertainment.

This is Bogle live, and if you have not experienced it in real life you have not lived. This CD gives a good idea of the experience.

You get old favourites, some new pieces -- not even on the box set -- and the Bogle patter. Greentrax have been very good in the layout of the album by putting the songs and introductions on separate tracks so you don't have to listen to the story behind the song each time.

Opening with the great unaccompanied tale of the plight of the native Australian, "Hard, Hard Times," he sets the tone and even the least interested in Aussie history have to stop and think.

Among the better-known tracks are, of course, the classics like "No Man's Land," "Leaving Nancy" and "Now I'm Easy." Interspersed are the caustically witty "Birds of a Feather," with a chicken chorus, and "Little Gomez," the sad tale of an amorous little doggie.

Bogle is a master songwriter but he also gives us interpretations of other great writers' efforts. One of these is Stan Rogers, and here he gives a beautiful rendition of "Lock Keeper." This is one of the most beautiful love songs that I have heard in years. Listen and try not to weep.

Other new or less well-known offerings include "Wee China Pig," "At Risk" and the thought-provoking "The Law."

The humour of a Bogle performance is captured to perfection on the final long track, that is all too short. On "Eric & the Informers" we hear Bogle as a rising star of the 1960s and '70s singing snatches from the hits of the period with a combination of fun and expertise.

This album is an ideal introduction to Eric Bogle, a memento of a live show, a live experience in the privacy of your own home and a collectors item.

by Nicky Rossiter
19 November 2005

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