The Voice Squad

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The Voice Squad are a traditional Irish singing group from Ireland. The members include Gerry Cullen, Phil Callery and Fran McPhail. They have recorded two albums and have toured Ireland, the UK and the US.

Though group singing, especially in harmony, is not part of the Irish music tradition, The Voice Squad have a considerable repertoire of Irish traditional songs and have always sung unaccompanied.

'Many's The Foolish Youth, first issued in 1987, was the first record by Fran, Gerry and Phil. Later they became known as The Voice Squad. Their style of singing in harmony does not form part of the Irish singing tradition, but each of the singers had already served his time in our individual tradition before coming together to sing in harmony.' - Frank Harte[1]

They have been compared to English family groups of similar style, such as 'The Watersons' and 'The Copper Family'. 'It is the union of the distinct tenor voices of Fran and Phil plus the bass of Gerry, along with their own particular arrangements of good songs, that has made them one of the most distinctive unaccompanied singing groups of recent times.'[2]

Performances[edit]

The group have performed in Ireland, the UK, Europe and the US. 'In October 2002 they performed, in front of Ireland's President Mary McAleese, at the Gala opening of Dublin's newest concert venue The Helix at Dublin City University. The concert was recorded by RTÉ television for later transmission. The track they performed was a special Shaun Davey arrangement of "The Parting Glass".'[2]

In June 2003 the group performed at the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics World Games, in Ireland with Rita Connolly and Ronan Tynan to perform "May We Never Have To Say Goodbye", composed by Shaun Davey, which was the theme song for the games.

"The Voice Squad represent the melding of two related but separate traditions — a British harmony-singing tradition (as exemplified by the Copper Family and the Watersons) and the unaccompanied solo singing tradition of Northern Ireland (as exemplified by such legendary artists as Paddy Tunney and Joe Heaney). By taking the traditional Irish repertoire and harmonizing it in a generally British style, the three members of the Voice Squad have created something new and absolutely wonderful. All three singers have excellent voices, but tenor Fran McPhail is the one who brings something tonally unique to the ensemble; his voice has an eerie, almost horn-like quality that blends beautifully with the harder-edged voices of tenor Phil Callery and baritone Gerry Cullen. - Rick Anderson, Allmusic[2]

Recordings[edit]

The Voice Squad have recorded three albums, Good People All being a re-release of Holly Wood with the same tracks.

'We Sang in St. Kevin's Church during the "Music Under the Mountains" festival in 1991. The natural stone quality was the best we have ever found so we came back to record this album. Most of these recordings were made in the Church, some during a concert. Other tracks were recorded in John Butler's house. St. Kevin's Church is the oldest Christian Church in Leinster which is still in use. It was built on the site of a hermit's cell, inhabited by St. Kevin before he went to Glendalough. The building is approximately 1000 years old and is now the Hollywood Heritage Centre. Hollywood is a village situated on the western approach to the Wicklow Mountains.'[3]

  • Many's The Foolish Youth, 1987, Tara, TARACD4004

Tracklist:
1. When a Man's in Love
2. The Bonny Irish Maid
3. Willie Taylor
4. The Banks of the Bann
5. The Holly She Bears a Berry
6. The Parting Glass
7. Kilmore Carol
8. Annan Water
9. Shepherds Arise
10. 0de to Autumn
11. Oh Good Ale

  • Holly Wood, 1992, TARA 4013

Tracklist:
1. The Coventry Carol
2. The Cocks are Crowing
3. The Sheepstealers
4. A Stor Mo Chroí
5. Jimmy Murphy
6. I Am Stretched on Your Grave
7. Good People All (Wexford Carol)
8. The Brown and The Yellow Ale
9. Sarah Jane
10. Down in Yon Forest
11. A Fond Kiss
12. Annan Waters
13. The Parting Glass

  • Good People All, 1993

Tracklist:
1. The Cocks Are Crowing
2. The Brown And Yellow Ale
3. Sarah Jane
4. Down In Yon Forest
5. A Fond Kiss
6. The Coventry Carol
7. Jimmy Murphy
8. I Am Stretched On Your Grave
9. Good People All
10. The Sheepstealers
11. A Stor Mo Chroi
12. Annan Waters
13. The Parting Glass

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sleevenotes to 'Many's the Foolish Youth
  2. ^ a b c http://www.taramusic.ie/biogs/vsquad.htm
  3. ^ Sleeve notes to 'Holly Wood' album