Band Review: Great Big Sea

Great Big Sea is a Canadian folk-rock band hailing from Newfoundland, and they are best known for performing their own interpretations of traditional Newfoundland folk songs. The band also performs original material, as well as folk-rock covers of popular songs (such as R.E.M.’s “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” and Slade’s “Run Runaway”).

Great Big Sea was founded by Alan Doyle, Sean McCann, Darrell Power, and Bob Hallett. In 2003, Darrel Power retired from the band to spend more time with his family. When they play together, the band members’ talents and abilities bring about some great folk-rock that can enjoyed by pop rock listeners as well as folk-rock fans.

As of this writing, Great Big Sea has released thirteen albums: Great Big Sea, Up, Play, Rant & Roar, Turn, Road Rage (a live album), Sea of No Cares, Something Beautiful, Great Big DVD & CD (another live album), The Hard & The Easy, Courage & Patience & Grit (a third live album), Fortune’s Favour and Safe Upon the Shore.

One of the most poignant songs on Great Big Sea’s self-titled album is “Someday Soon.” This song is about politicians and all the promises they make, and points out examples of how these promises are going unfulfilled. The chorus of the song lists off some of these promises, and the final line has the speaker hoping that these promises will be fulfilled “someday soon.”

Great Big Sea’s 1995 album, Up, features the cover of Slade’s “Run Runaway.” Another notable song on this album is “The Chemical Worker’s Song (Process Man),” which talks about a man working in the coal mines and how the men who work in the coal mines are affected by their occupation. There’s also “Mari-Mac,” a traditional song which is sung really fast.

1997’s Play has the cover of R.E.M. on it, as well as “The Night Pat Murphy Died” (a funny song about an Irish wake). Another highlight is “Ordinary Day“; the song opens with the S.O.S. signal, and then the song itself talks about how it’s just an ordinary day.

1999’s Turn featured “Consequence Free.” Another highlight is the title song to 2002’s Sea Of No Cares, and I like “The Mermaid” from 2005’s The Hard and the Easy.

Overall, I feel the band’s albums from the 1990s are their strongest material. It’s not that the other albums are bad, I just don’t feel they’re quite as strong.

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