1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 336

The Very Best of the Corries, by The Corries
Suggested by Mel Connolly

We all know that music is evocative. However, I find that is underselling its power. In a real sense, music is magic.

It’s teleportation, of a sort. When you’re connected with a song or a sound, it can play with your perception and take you to places and times you thought long past. On the simple side of this, you have songs with personal significance: the soundtrack to a couple’s first kiss, say, or a tune beloved by a young child that can still make a parent well with tears some thirty years after the child has grown and left the nest. We all have these connections, be they as simple as an album reminding you of your college years or as powerful as the hit single that helped you through your personal long dark teatime of the soul.

No all baggage is positive. Maybe you associate East 17’s Stay with a bad breakup. Maybe The Baha Men’s Who Let The Dogs Out underscored your embarrassing wardrobe malfunction at the Tesco’s Deli Counter, and you flush red whenever you hear the opening bars or smell a spicy sausage.

Alice Cooper’s Poison is the taboo bugbear in Chez Stevenson, as it was playing when we crashed our car on New Year’s Eve 2012. We’ve not listened to it since, as a single note brings back the sweat and the tightening chest.

The Corries were a Scottish folk trio-cum-duo with an almost thirty-year career, from the early Sixties to 1990. They produce a Scottish classic folk sound, predominately on guitar but utilising a variety of traditional instruments with exotic names, from the bodhrán to the bouzouki to the psaltery to the Northumbrian smallpipes.

The songs have titles like The Black Douglass, Derwentwater’s Farewell, The Bluebells of Scotland, and Kiss the Children for me Mary. I’m positive that you can surmise their sound from these titular titbits along. It’s pure folk, finger-in-the ear and heartstring-tugging warblings, evoking a hazy pride of place and heritage I find at odds with my couldn’t-give-a-toss-where-I’m-from attitude. I’ve always found such jingoistic and rapturous delight in nationality a rather baffling concept. If I had something more interesting to fly than a vanilla White English flag I’d be more engaged.

Ignoring that, though, The Corries are perfectly pleasant and gentle, no?

Well… no. And it’s not their fault at all.

While not The Corries in particular, this pure folk sound, this mawkish miasma of nostalgic reverie was my stepdad’s musical weapon of choice. Our relationship was strained, to say the least. I won’t bore you with the details, because they’re typically dull, but the sounds that The Corries create drag me back to my teens, my dad’s music blaring as he shouted at the walls, thick with booze, fist clenching, veins throbbing. I can see the peeling wallpaper, feel the panic rising, my breath racing and my blood running cold.

While I’d love to recommend The Corries to fans of the genre, and say my standout I Will Go with its brooding drums is well worth your time, I’m afraid I’m unequipped to do so. This gets 4/10. These sounds see my heart harden: I’m impervious to the charms they are peddling, and I’ll never warm to it no matter what they do.

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