Live and Ruddy

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The debut album from Milwaukee's McTavish is somewhat of a cross between an Irish folk song hootenanny and a full-fledged rock & roll jam session. The first eight tracks are studio recorded and display the band's Celtic-rock preferences, while the latter half is comprised of live recordings which possess a more rock & roll bent. Most of the material was written by lead singer and guitarist Mark Ruddy. He has a knack for writing participant-friendly ditties like "Ballad of the Ruddy Clan," "No Comment," and "Van the Man" which is dedicated to Van Morrison. Conversely, "Connolly Station" is a dark John Cale-esque number, while "Mother Whiskey" is a loose Mott the Hoople-type rocker reminiscent of their Wildlife period. McTavish also pays tribute to late-'60s British rock with a temperate remake of the Kinks' "Death of a Clown" and a respectable reading of the Animals' "Sky Pilot." "Amsterdam," an eight-minute Ruddy original, perhaps unwittingly recreates another stimulating Mott the Hoople jam session, but it suits the progression of this release nevertheless. Despite this album's duo personalities and low-budget recording, it works surprisingly well, save for a couple of dubious inclusions like the out-of-place, Dave Sanborn-like saxophone display on "St. Patrick Says" and the overdone mocking of Toni Basil's "Mickey" on "Mickey Big Mouth."

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