Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Solidarity is not always achieved when disparate forces come together, even if the final purpose is the same; it somehow can seem fractured and split and in the end only half the aspirations and goals are met. This is not the case with the hugely impressive and direct new album from the Alan Kelly Gang, The Last Bell. If anything, more goals are met with extraordinary cheer than if the forthcoming General Election was being fought with a fairness in the media and all prospective members of Parliament were told that their pay was to be reduced to that of nurses.
The Last Bell always seems to be rung with an air of grievance, like a bad tempered bar owner who cannot wait to kick out his regulars so that he can slip into a comfortable bottle himself and yet the Alan Kelly Gang take hold of the time afforded them and show the awaiting world the sense of consistent and interlocked music that is so unified, that it could stand up against the hardest of knocks from any type of machinery going.
The feeling of blissful content is strewn across the entire album and with band members Steph Geremia, Alasdair White, Tony Byrne, Marcus Lunny, Martin O’Neill, Jim Higgins and the sensational Ewan Vernal, as well as the eponymous Alan Kelly, the sound of beauty rolled in a natural lust for life and steady Celtic beat is enough for the ears to dance to a ready tune. The fact that Eddi Reader makes a wonderful appearance on The Sleeping Policeman enhances what is already a great album to take delight in.
With songs, jigs and instrumentals such as the apt January Gales, The Moth & the Exorcist, Low Flying Polo, The Poorest Company and the aforementioned The Sleeping Policeman being included in between the packaging and deferential and sincere music, The Last Bell is not one to fear, it is not the calling of time, but instead just the introduction to the next part of the story, the next round of rightly excitable instruments being played with genuine affection for the listener’s musical soul.
Ian D. Hall