Michael Snow

Never Say No to a Jar

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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

Michael Snow has done just about every job in the music business in the last 40 years, starting in Merseybeat bands and going all the way to being a music publishing executive in Nashville. Reinvestigating his heritage as the child of Irish immigrants in England -- in Liverpool slang, a "skelly" -- Snow began a labor of love in the late 1990s, recording a series of solo albums for his own Irish Eye label. The skelly trilogy began with Here Comes the Skelly, continued with The Rats and the Rosary, and concludes with Never Say No to a Jar. Snow has a whiskey tenor, and his musical style is Celtic folk-rock. This turns out to be an excellent combination for his thematic collection of songs with an autobiographical frame. The album does not have a unified plot; rather, it is a concept album allowing Snow to cast his memories back to Liverpool and forward to the journeys he has taken in life. "That Sonic Boom," set to a rocking shuffle, tells the story of his musical history as a minor part of the British beat movement of the '60s. "Light That Fire Again" is unabashedly nostalgic for the cold, damp, northern city of his youth, as is "River Remember Me," which goes back to the years of World War II. The final song, "A Skelly's Farewell," is Snow's leave-taking of his homeland, and it is cleverly followed by the hidden track "Rosetta," a cover of Snow's biggest hit as a songwriter (it made Number 11 in the U.K. in 1971 for Georgie Fame and Alan Price). Never Say No to a Jar is a perfect example of the adage that a writer should "write what you know." Nominally, it is a personal story, but in execution, it is full of feeling and universal meaning.

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