Western Island (Phantom Records: 1985) and Mercury's Well (Phantom Records: 1992)

John McCormick

By Bob Mitchell

Western Island was produced by Alex de Grassi and released by Schanachie as an LP (remember LPs?). Recently, McCormick obtained the rights to re-release it on CD. The recording contains twelve extraordinary tracks that established McCormick as a Celtic artist. The title cut alone is worth the price of a CD. But "Louisville's old friend" does not stop there, he masterfully presents material from Archie Fisher ("Lindsay" and "Western Island") and from John Martyn ("May You Never"). His guitar work is exceptional on Bert Jansch's "Veronica," as well as traditional selections "Merrily Kiss The Quakers Wife," "The Mist Covered Mountains of Home" and "The Boys of Bluehill."

Mercury's Well is a self produced project that had some success in Europe but no substantial distribution in the US. This re-release will end an unfortunate drought. McCormick is at his traditional folk best in "Death and The Lady." Si Kahn's powerful message song "What You Do With What You've Got" is handled as boldly as the lyrics.

"Big Mac's" distinctive vocals and guitar work is sensitive throughout. However, he outdoes himself with an impressive arrangement of "The Fisherman" (Leo Kottke). Bassist Pat Klobas is subtle yet substantial, especially in "Kodak Ghost."

These projects are a compelling performance from one of the folk world's most gentle vocalists ... a true troubadour for the new millennium.

To learn more about McCormick or obtain a copy of either CD contact Phantom Records, PO Box 884704, San Francisco CA 94188, (phone) 1-510-204-9782. Or order through the web site  http://www.mccormickjohn.com