The Remarkables: Swinging on the Gate (Fragile Colours)

 |   |  1 min read

The Remarkables: Minuet in G
The Remarkables: Swinging on the Gate (Fragile Colours)

When Tim Julian of the record company Fragile Colours got in touch about this album, told me who was on it and asked if Elsewhere might be interested I replied immedfiately.

I said, "You had me at 'Robbie Laven'."

People of A Certain Age fondly remember the gifted multi-instrumentalist Laven for his band Red Hot Peppers in the Seventies, and in fact we have previously posted a track from their sole album Toujours Yours in our From the Vaults pages (here).

And more recently we reviewed the album by the band Bonjour Swing in which he and longtime partner Marion Arts play. As the band name suggests they err to a sophisticated Django/Grappelli style of swinging jazz-folk.

This breezy, acoustic outing -- which is high on pleasure and exists in the space between country-swing,  jazz (Fats Waller's Honeysuckle Rose is here) and folk-blues -- puts Laven (on fiddle, guitar, washboard, mandolin and saw) together with equally seasoned players Neil Finlay (guitar/vocals), bassist/singer Garry Trotman and banjo player Bryan Christianson (whose adaptation of Bach's familiar Minuet into bluegrass swing is a real grin-inducing highpoint).

The cover photo -- taken at the woolshed they rehearsed in -- perfectly captures the mood here as they offer a downhome, backporch treatment of You Always Hurt the One You Love (singing saw milking the tears), their bluegrass-tinged arrangement of the standard Frankie and Johnny, the harmonica blues of the hoary Stealin' (written in '28 according to the excellent gatefold package) and their revision of Irving Berlin's Marie ('29).

The originals by Christianson and Trotman slip in seamlessly: Christianson's title track and Wait And See are vigorous Flatt-Scruggs banjo-pickin', fiddle'n'geetar pieces; and Trotman touches the spirit of New Orleans and the Hot Club equally for Crazy For Your Love ("there's no one sweller, and I'm your feller").

There's as much wit here as virtuoso playing (Animal Liberation Rag by Trotman) but the lasting impression after these 15 songs is what a relaxed, enjoyable time you've had.

No barriers hurdled, envelopes pushed or parameters breached, just damn fine stuff from people who know what they are doing . . . and how to do it very well indeed. 

You can buy this album direct from the Remarkables' website here

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music at Elsewhere articles index

Blair Parkes: Always Running (usual digital outlets)

Blair Parkes: Always Running (usual digital outlets)

Out of Christchurch, Blair Parkes is a multiple threat whose work encompasses – and impresses in – artworks, writing, photography, videos and music. He started in the Flying Nun... > Read more

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (Merge)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (Merge)

The first film by many aspiring directors is often a low budget affair about hookers, junkies or/and zombies. Being young they believe there is drama (or at least cool dress-ups) in these worlds --... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

ERNEST RANGLIN INTERVIEWED (1999): Ska pioneer

ERNEST RANGLIN INTERVIEWED (1999): Ska pioneer

What becomes a legend most? In the case of Ernest Ranglin, good humour and modesty. This legend of Jamaican singlehandedly created ska back in the Fifties; recorded the young Bob Marley;... > Read more

Zionhill: Inside of You (Moko)

Zionhill: Inside of You (Moko)

Too many New Zealand reggae bands, once they have got the rhythm and melody down, rarely have much to say lyrically which doesn't default to soft notions about home and family, or a bunch of... > Read more