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'The Ultimate Celtic Album' is a difficult title to live up to, especially when set aside the claims of previous contenders such as 'The Holy Ground of Glasgow Celtic', which I purchased for 2/6 at the Barras many moons ago. Leaving aside 'The Holy Ground...' I think it's fair to say that there are very few clubs who have released an album. A Cup Final single or two yes, but hardly anything to stack up against this kind of thing. The general consensus would seem to be, leave music to the musicians and football to the footballers.
This album, mercifully, doesn't have any footballers singing on it, and it's difficult to see what the target audience is, given the broad musical tastes of the average crowd at Celtic Park. Maybe this explains why this album strives to cover so many genres in the space of its 14 tracks?
It opens with all guns blazing. 'Best Day of Our Lives' is John McLaughlin's Lisbon Lions tribute and will be familiar to most fans by now. It's a good, catchy number and deserved to be number one in the charts last May, if only because it's a lot better than any other recent number ones that I can recall (Will Young and Gareth Gates to name but two). The Martin O'Neill voiceover is a bit naff, what with the echo and everything, but there you go.
As a bonus, the video for this - which I think is excellent - will appear on your PC's CD Rom drive if you have the appropriate software installed.
This is followed by 'You're In My Heart' by Rod Stewart, a classic of our time. 'You're Celtic, United, but baby I've decided you're the best team I've ever seen'. They don't write them like that any more do they? And to think, our wee team still gets a mention on stereos all over the world!
Track 3 is called 'Her Hooped dream' by Clare Grogan, who once fronted Altered Images and had a couple of hits some years back. If you liked 'Happy Birthday' you'll hate this. It's crap.
The legendary Frankie Miller covers for Grogan with 'The Loudest Roar', a good, gruff and authentic song, rendered superbly by FM. Frankie's a bit like Rod, he transcends critique and it's great to hear him on this album.
The next track is a version of 'The Fields' by somebody called Charlie Boyle, featuring Tony from Liberty X (who he? ed) and The Celtic Chorus (who they? ed). I heard this at the match the other night and thought the Parkhead DJ had slipped on a recording of a tractor driving over a gravel path. It doesn't sound much better on your home Hi Fi either. If Frankie Miller is gruff, Charlie is gruff to the power of ten... with laryngitis. The track listing should read 'Charlie Boyle featuring Phlegm'. I couldn't help but get this vision of Father jack Hackett out of my head while listening to this.
'Going Home' is a cover tune done with guitars and all that by James Grant, but the connection with Celtic (or football for that matter) eluded me altogether.
Shane McGowan's contribution was the highlight for me. As far as I'm concerned he is the man. All those years of getting pished celebrating trophies... and all the other years getting pished without celebrating trophies. And he's still alive! His track is called 'Tomorrow Belongs To Me'. It's not a cover of the Nazi number from Cabaret but a brilliant wee Celtic song. Play it, learn it. Sing it loud.
'Hey Henrik' by DJ Rico and the Celtic Chorus is a floor filler at the Christmas party this year... assuming everybody at the party's a Celtic fan that is. Learn the moves and throw those shapes and remember - tongues oot!
If the two previous tracks got you excited, the one following these makes up for it. 'Team of My Heart', as the title suggests, is a soppy dirge performed by John McLaughlin and the ubiquitous Celtic chorus.
His reputation is restored somewhat with the next track, however. 'Celtic Forevermore' is a slightly Motown-ish number. It's well produced but lacks an edge, a threat, loud drums... something!
The same goes for 'Sweet Jacko Lee' which has a nice fiddle tune on it but sounds as if the lyrics were written by a four year-old. For what I think is this album's intended audience, it could have done with being speeded up a bit and given a bit of stomp and bluster about it.
The track following this - 'or The Bhoys' by the Ceevees - does actually manage to achieve this. By sounding like a committed Commitments style effort you can stamp your feet, click your fingers and sing along to it, but the next one, 'Stand Up For The Champions' performed by Donald McLeod and Roberto Cecchetti, had me pining for Tommy Boyd's version. In its own way it's quite funny.
The finale is 'You'll Never Walk Alone 2002' by Gerry Marsden and the Celtic Chorus. I'm not a great fan of the harp plucking away in the background, but Marsden's voice is still excellent. The crowd joining in at the end, as recorded on the night of the Blackburn game at Parkhead, might seem like a bit of a twee idea, but it works really well on this. I had to run and get my scarf to join in. This is another one that will play the video on your PC and it really is quite impressive, filmed as it was from pitch level. You'll enjoy it if you can ignore the singing of John McLaughlin - who sounds as if the whole experience was getting to be too much for him - and the inane patter of that annoying bloke who does the half-time raffle ticket draw.
Overall, I have to say I prefer traditional 'Celtic' music - either traditional Irish stuff or songs that derive from the terracings (can't really say that the new Celtic Park has done much to supplant the Jungle as a source of material).
There are a few outstanding tracks on this album, but bland beats containing vague references to Celtic don't do it for me I'm afraid. Having said that, this will probably sell by the thousand. Expect it to be flogged to death on the stadium PA system as well.
My request? Please, not Charlie's version of the Fields!
PAUL THE HUMBLE HERO
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