More (Mostly) Folk Music

Bakerloo Junction   •   My Lagan Softly Flowing

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  • My Lagan Softly Flowing
    • 1982 - Emerald GES 1219 LP (UK)
  • Side One
    1. Grey Belfast Lough (McMaster)
    2. Off To School (Campbell)
    3. Belfast Street Songs (Trad. Arr. Bakerloo Junction)
    4. Harland and Wolff (McMaster)
    5. The Winds of Change (McMaster)
    6. Cruise of the Calibar (Trad. Arr. Bakerloo Junction)
    7. James Young (Watt)
  • Side Two
    1. Black Velvet Band (Trad. Arr. Bakerloo Junction)
    2. My Lagan Softly Flowing (McMaster)
    3. Wee Willie (Trad. Arr. Bakerloo Junction)
    4. The Somme (McMaster)
    5. Mary of Dungloe (Trad. Arr. Bakerloo Junction)
    6. I Remember (McMaster)
    7. Flowers Of Manchester (Trad.)

  • Bakerloo Junction
    • Noel McMaster
    • Mike Keery
  • Credits
    • Produced by George Doherty at Hydepark Studios
    • Sleeve notes by Eddie McIlwaine
    • Photograph: The Lagan Lock Gate at Edenderrry circa 1843 from an oil painting by Hugh Fraser R.H.A. taken by David Cooke, Rye, Sussex.

Sleeve Notes

Disillusioned with other people's harsher, jarring music, life long friends Noel McMaster and Mike Keery found themselves stranded on a London tube station platform one bleak, rainy day, contemplating the future.

Together they made a vow to do it their own gentle, folksy way and call themselves Bakerloo Junction after the place where they waited impatiently for a train.

And it is there on the underground that this album actually has its roots. The pair sat down on their luggage and talked about how it would be, the songs Noel would write, the arrangements Mike would add and the refrains they would harmonise together.

Bakerloo is where it began, a junction on the way to a lilting, mellow hit single which now lends its name to the title of this poignant, pulsating collection in which all the sensitivity and feeling of two closely-knit talented pals ebb and flow just like the River Lagan they love and grew up beside.

McMaster, tall, bearded and passionate like all believing men of folk, written caringly about the human kind and his Northern Irish homeland.

Keery, small, slim and impulsive is his mentor, inspiration and the technical adviser who breathes fire into everything they do.

Theirs is an uncanny, sometimes uneasy yet always brilliant alliance stretching back into distant boyhood when they roamed the fields around Lisburn, Co. Antrim, together and whistled their first simplistic tunes with faltering abandon.

The pair have even gone their separate ways since that day they bought a ticket at Bakerloo. But inexorably and inevitably the melodies, the harmonies and the soft easy words of their ballads ease them back together.

Between them they play banjo, guitar, penny-whistle, mandolin and mouth organ, but that only tells a little bit about Bakerloo Junction. They beguile the senses with the sheer beauty, charm and tang of their songs.

In "Grey Belfast Lough" for instance Noel and Mike sing with sadness and loyalty of still being able to be happy about sailing back into a city torn apart by violence.

That one is vintage McMaster and so is his "Harland and Wolff", a tribute to the men who toil in the famous shipyard which gave birth to the Titanic.

There is pathos too in the one about the soldiers who died at the Somme, set against a background of the memorial at Belfast City Hall to the men who fell in those waving fields of yellow corn.

But there is room for others too at the Junction. John Watt, a contemporary from Ballycastle on the Antrim coast, penned the ballad in memory of beloved comic James Young. And "Off to School", about a little boy's first day in class, was written by famed Scot Ian Campbell.

"The Cruise of the Calibar", "The Black Velvet Band" and "Mary of Dungloe" are traditional yet stirringly arranged here.

Then there are Belfast street games recalled on one track to remind some of hot summer nights joined in endless fun between the rows of terraces.

McMaster's pen was dipped deep in nostalgia to put together "I Remember" about how it was in Belfast, city of a million heartaches, before the place was overtaken by civil strife.

But the ballad I suspect closest to both their hearts is one which Me Master and Keery had no part in originating.

"Flowers of Manchester", author unknown, is about the day brave United from that city died in a plane crash at Munich.

The pair care about Manchester United and in fact have been guests at the football ground when the single, its vinyl in the vivid red of the team colours, was played over the public address system. A proud moment indeed.