New Celeste ‘A Perfect Sky’ – Celtic Music Radio’s Album Of The Week 22 July 2017
First formed in the late 1970’s, combining folk, rock and jazz players from the Glasgow music scene, New Celeste broke the mould at that time with their rock and jazz treatments of traditional music and their fast and furious stage act. The band toured extensively in Scotland and England, touring twice with Billy Connolly and recording a half hour ‘In Concert’ for ITV. They rapidly found themselves in Europe recording three albums – ‘High Sands and the Liquid Lake’ in Holland, ‘On the Line’ in Berlin and then ‘New Celeste Live’ in Brittany, France. Propelled across a continent, they built a huge fan base wherever they played. Exhausted with touring, the band broke up in 1983 and the various band members went their own ways. Guitarist Graeme Duffin joined Wet Wet Wet, drummer Iain Bayne went on to play with Runrig, guitarist Nigel Clark joined Hue & Cry and violinist Rod Dorothy jazzed it with Barbara Thompson’s Paraphernalia. Founder member guitarist and singer Iain Fergus took a break from music for a while, then reformed New Celeste in 1990 with Rod Dorothy and some new musicians, Steve Reid, Jerry Soffe, Ian Aitken, Willie Logan, Iain Copeland and Brendan Ring and recorded two new CDs for Lismor/Iona Records in Glasgow ‘The Celtic Connection’ and then ‘It’s a New Day’ with Charlie McKerron and Fred Morrison from Capercaillie. The band performed at numerous festivals across Europe, promoting these two CDs.
‘’Seven albums in and there’s still no predicting what New Celeste will conjure next. You could quite easily be forgiven if you follow the inevitable Celtic rock label that’s so often hung round their neck by the unthinking or the even more confused, generic folk rock. All of which hint at but could never define a band that’s defied expectation time and time again across more years than it’s healthy to recall. New album A Perfect Sky is an impeccable addition to a line of carefully crafted and considered releases. Brought to life in studios from London to Skye via Oxford, Glasgow and Canada, then impeccably mixed by Bob Prowse the core intentions strategically pieced together to create an acoustic centred, electrically driven collection which is intrinsically rooted. A Perfect Sky superbly displays the creative credentials of New Celeste, which with the opening Such A Lovely Day, bounces along agreeable acoustic pop in every second. Seven Seas is a flamenco drenched ode to lost love, whereas Love & Freedom displays the band’s love of traditional themes with a typically clipped Fergus vocal and a lilting hook line that both historically and stylistically speaks of no other place than Caledonia. Love Is a Strange Thing has a summery vibe, an observation on casual and fickle affairs of the heart, the fiddle soaring high on a feathery breeze. Instrumentally New Celeste exhibit equal flair and understanding Petite Quimperoise has classical inclinations with a jazz undercurrent, The Sunshower is a rolling chase between fiddle and acoustic guitar, Jig Celeste a freewheeling, whirling dervish leads handily into Sorry a vox drenched, Beatlesque construction in which twin guitars duel and twist around each other over a jumble of ponderable romantic questions. With a steadfast frontline of founder Iain Fergus on vocals and guitar, lead guitarist Steve Reid, fiddler Gavin Marwick, bass player Jerry Soffe with drummer Max Saidi, the range of inspiration and influence is as wide as the horizon to horizon landscapes of their Scottish homeland. There’s even room for reunions, former associates Graeme Duffin (Wet, Wet, Wet,) and Rod Dorothy (Barbara Thompson,) add deft touches on guitar and violin respectively. Iain sums it all up, “My songs take a long time to write themselves. I’m never trying to shock or surprise, to me it’s all about interest. The album took nearly a year to complete, with various ex members of the band adding important bits and pieces and some fantastic guest musicians too. Steve and Gavin wrote three great tracks for the CD and Bob Prowse played a big part, he’s a wonderful engineer.” Look upwards, not a cloud in sight, a perfect sky, venture forth without delay.’’
The line-up of New Celeste is as follows:
Iain Fergus: Acoustic guitar and vocals
Steve Reid: Acoustic and electric guitars
Gavin Marwick: Fiddle
Jerry Soffe: Bass guitar
Max Saidi: Drums
‘A Perfect Sky’
- Such a Lovely Day
- Love Is a Strange Thing
- Seven Seas
- Petite Quimperoise
- She’s Got No Heart
- The Sunshower
- Love and Freedom
- Jig Celeste
While Correct at time of printing please check artist website for any alterations, amendments or additions
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