"Children of the Storm"
There are some people who really should have been more well-known. Paul McNeill is one of them. A British-born folksinger, Paul was a fixture of the London folk scene in the 60's, with a residency at the famous Troubadour Club, as well as associations and friendships that included Bert Jansch, Sandy Denny, Alex Campbell, Paul Simon, and Linda Thompson. He was one of (if not the) first people to ever record cover versions of Paul Simon songs. With Linda Thompson (nee Peters) he formed a duo that recorded several singles.
McNeill recorded two albums on Decca in the mid 60's, and then left the country and eventually settled in Fribourg, Swizterland, where he lived until his death. He died in Norway in 1989, of cancer. His later years as a busker and street musician in Fribourg provided the material for "Children of the Storm," his third and final album. It was a private release. I'm not sure how many copies were made.
The album showcases a proficient guitarist with a decent voice and strong, clear arrangements. It is the song lyrics, however, that really shine. McNeill's writing is poetic, specific, and compelling. I particularly enjoyed "The Cathedral" and "Cookie," although I wish I knew the stories behind the songs. The title track is rousing and epic. The album ends with "The Air I Breathe" which is joyful and celebratory. A fitting end to a long career. I wish he had been more prolific, because Children of the Storm is a short album, with only 8 tracks, and it leaves you wanting more.
According to the jacket, the album was recorded live. The engineering is not the greatest, McNeill's vocals are sometimes distant and overpowered by the excellent music, and there are several lines that I can't understand at all, which is why I did not type up the lyrics in this case.
Those who knew Paul remember him fondly, and I hope that others will enjoy this album as I have.
- The Cathedral
- Children of the Storm
- Prelude, Grandads Song
- Red Eye Blues
- The Air I Breathe
Note: This album is no longer available on my blog, but Paul's son, Marco, has created an official web site www.paulmcneill.ch where you may be able to get it in the future. Anyone interested in "Children of the Storm" should check with him. Thanks!