Wild Oats

Weed 'Em and Reap

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The Wild Oats' debut album, Weed 'Em and Reap, covers a lot of ground, musically, and takes some diversions from the straight and narrow, with an intriguing mix of historical and present-day music. They do a fine and lively version of the traditional ballad "Donald MacGillavry," and it's one of their best, well worth hearing repeatedly. The lyrics just go to show how much life has changed since the days of King James -- how many people these days even know what lingle means? (Unless they're in the very specialized trade of hand-making footwear still.) Another delightful ballad, this one an original by Eben Brooks, is "Princes, Friends and Lovers." Along with his "Amadea," it shows him to be a talented writer. The original "Ravenspur Reel" by Marc Biagi features an unusual instrumental combination -- pennywhistle, bones, and bodhran. "Jihad" is an interesting departure from their primarily Celtic sound -- it's an instrumental with a distinctly Arabic flavor, performed on the saz (a Turkish six-stringed lute), accompanied by doumbek and zils. There are multiple reasons for the parental advisory notice, from the bawdy a cappella "Character of a Mistress" to the wantonness of "Jolly Red Nose," but those accustomed to sexuality in traditional music will take this in stride. Another song that may raise some eyebrows, this time among the ranks of Christianity, is "Deified Hebraic Carpentarial Blues." However, it's gently humorous, not sarcastic, and those able to accept it in the good-natured spirit that it's offered will enjoy it. There are a few technical glitches -- fingers slipping on the strings on "Eppie Maurie" and the instrumentals washing out the vocals at points on "The Queen of Argyll," however these are minor, and are far outweighed by the album's merits. Just a bit more polishing will take care of that. In all, a welcome and engaging debut.

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