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A Tear and a Smile/Strong in the Sun [Slipcase] *

Album: A Tear and a Smile/Strong in the Sun [Slipcase] *
# Song Title   Time
1)    Come and See the Show
2)    Down Day
3)    When I Came Down
4)    Same Thing Happening, The
5)    Bluebottle Stew
6)    So Freely
7)    Hemisphere
8)    Lady Ocean
9)    Goodbye My Love
10)    Two White Horses
11)    Free Ride
12)    Whitestone Bridge
13)    Teesside
14)    Cinema
15)    Strong in the Sun
16)    Wind Was High, The
17)    In the Morning
18)    Love Lost
19)    Most Magical
20)    Fall of Day
Product Details
Performer Notes
  • 2 LPs on 1 CD: A TEAR & AND SMILE (1972)/STRONG IN THE SUN (1973).
  • T?r na nOg: Sonny Condell, Leo O'Kelly.
  • Personnel: Leo O'Kelly (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, dulcimer, violin); Sonny Condell (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, Clavinet, drums, Jew's harp, percussion); Matthew Fisher (keyboards); Barry DeSouza, Ace Follington, Jeff Jones (drums).
  • Additional personnel: Larry Steele (bass guitar); Barry DeSouza.
  • Liner Note Author: Alan Robinson .
  • Photographer: Ian McDonald .
  • Arranger: Nick Harrison.
  • This two-fer from BGO includes the British folk group's second and third recordings for Chrysalis. The duo expanded its horizons on its 1972 sophomore release by adding drums (Barry DeSouza) and bass (Larry Steele), as well as some effective string arrangements. Produced by the legendary Tony Cox (Caravan, Fran?oise Hardy, Family), A Tear and a Smile retained all of Sonny Condell and Leo O'Kelly's offbeat phrasing, playful melodic deviations, and pastoral balladry, while subtly turning an eye to the prospects of a little commercial appeal. The easy folk-rock of O'Kelly''s "When I Came Down" and "The Same Thing Happening" wouldn't have sounded out of place on the country-rock-heavy airwaves of U.S. radio, and even though Condell's lighthearted No?l Coward imitation on the bouncy "Bluebottle Stew" is like listening to a half-baked Monty Python skit, it works because -- like everything on A Tear and a Smile -- it's executed so sincerely. Desperately in need of a commercial success, Sonny Condell and Leo O'Kelly's third -- and consequently last -- record as Tir Na Nog is a Hail Mary to the mainstream. Opening with a spirited if slightly ill-advised Roxy Music-esque cover of Nick Drake's "Free Ride," Strong in the Sun is a fascinating but ultimately disappointing bookend from a band that almost made it. Like Duncan Browne's transition from Donovan-esque balladeer to Wings-era McCartney rocker, Tir Na Nog were up for the transition. Procol Harum keyboard player Matthew Fisher was brought in to produce, and his clean, concise balancing act between the duo's folkier past and the era's growing need for excess helped to create some truly sublime moments. Somewhere between O'Kelly's beautiful "Wind Was High" and the atmospheric "Cinema" -- the latter featured a sample from a Henry Fonda Western -- the duo achieved a moment of greatness. Tir Na Nog were more than mediocre, but a few songs shy of great, and while the public at large never caught on, there are more than enough Tir Na Nog supporters -- and new artists like Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and James Yorkston who owe them more than a nod -- to warrant the group a place in British folk history. ~ James Christopher Monger
Professional Reviews
Dirty Linen (p.66) - "[P]rimarily acoustic and pastoral, owing more to the Incredible String Band and John Martyn than Steeleye Span.....STRONG IN THE SUN took a decidedly more rock 'n' roll approach..."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.116) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[P]leasingly pastoral and whimsical..."
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