New Humblebums/Open Up the Door

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Castle Essential's pairing of the Humblebums' two albums, The New Humblebums and Open Up the Door, not only is the defintive retrospective and introduction to the little-known Scottish folk-pop group, but also captures the emerging talents of Billy Connolly and Gerry Rafferty. Before he became a comedian/actor, Connolly was a modest singer/songwriter, drawing from folk as well as blues, jazz, country and bluegrass. His pleasant, catchy tunes dominate the first album, and he has a several selections on the second as well, but by that time, Rafferty had joined as a replacement for Tam Harvey. Rafferty worked in the same vein as Connolly, but he was more inspired, and his contributions here are quite impressive, ranging from hooky folk-pop to brooding, introspective ballads. His songs are very good, ranking among his best, and their presence makes this two-fer worthwhile for fans of his solo work and Stealer's Wheel. Of course, any curious Connolly fan will find this fascinating as well.

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