Two Time Polka,
The Very Best of Two Time Polka
(Toucan Cove, 2004)

Cork is 2005's European City of Culture, but since 1994 this band from the City by the Lee has been blending that culture and much more into a concoction of pure delight. This CD brings us a distillation of the best. Two Time Polka takes Americana, Cajun, bluegrass and country and makes them their own with exciting and adventurous arrangements.

Not only do they cross musical boundaries -- or smash them down -- they also give us songs in French such as "J'etais au Bal."

I don't know if Chuck Berry played The Arcadia in Cork but this band take his wonderful "Promised Land" and give us a fabulous track that will have you bopping along to a driving beat. The band tones things down for "Tom and Jerry," again producing a marvelous sound with a mandolin -- but beware if you tap along, as these guys (and girl) don't hang about and the tempo increases to breakneck pace as it progresses.

"Diggy Diggy Lo" gives us an almost yodeling bunch of Cork singers. They take us into pop and blues with tracks originally released by luminaries like Elvis and the Rolling Stones, but the familiar tunes will never sound the same after the versions on offer here. "Hound Dog" and "No Expectations" are the tracks in question.

They then bring us bluegrass classics originally recorded by Bill Monroe, such as "The Moonlight Waltz" and "Jerusalem Ridge." My favourite track of the 14 here is the beautiful rendition of "Dust Bowl Blues." This track deserves greater airplay.

One of the joys of this album is the realization that, while so much of Ireland's music has been traveling east and west to get new treatments by singers from other lands and cultures, we have here a showcase of the opposite migration. Ireland can take the music of these lands and give it a new intonation and enthusiasm that brings it to wider audiences.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 18 June 2005

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