Great Big Sea – XX

Great Big Sea - XX

Album cover for XX by Great Big Sea

A sign of a good career-spanning compilation for any artist is if all their respective albums are represented pretty evenly in the end. It’s also a sign of a good and even career. For Great Big Sea, their twenty year career is marked with the release of a double-disc, 40-song collection consisting of tracks from all of their albums: hits, favourites and otherwise. Six new songs and at least two tracks from each of their studio records comprise this compilation with their third record Play being represented the most as six songs from that make it on here. Also a sign of a strong career are the songs that aren’t included on here. Fast As I Can was a popular radio hit in 1996, their cover of R.E.M.‘s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It and Can’t Stop Falling are among those that aren’t included.

Being the biggest band to come out of Newfoundland, Great Big Sea have covered a lot of ground with their music that incorporated traditional Newfoundland folk with Irish and Scottish influences. As they progressed, they began to mix that with modern day pop and rock for a truly original sound that made them probably one of the most distinctive bands in Canada. This album is divided into two halves with disc 1 being mostly the pop/rock side of their discography and disc 2 being their traditional sea shanties and pub classics.

Early classics like Run Run Away, Old Black Rum and Mari Mac make their way in the tracklisting while their radio hits like Ordinary Day, When I’m Up (I Can’t Get Down) and Consequence Free offer up a more neutral sound. Disc 2 is the fun disc because of the nature of the music that made Great Big Sea who they are from the beginning. While the tin whistle accompanies many of their songs, it’s the traditional folk songs that have the accordion and the fiddle, the upbeat instrumentals and hilarious songs about riding on a donkey, Lukey’s boat and drinking, plus the folklore of Atlantic Canada.

The six new songs fit in well with their tradition of storytelling and folk completing this collection. I used to joke that if you hear a Great Big Sea song on the radio, you know that everything in the world is fine. A bit of an exaggeration of course, but XX is comforting as it fills a certain gap for anyone who grew up on the Canadian East Coast. A likely gift idea for the upcoming holiday season, XX provides a great summary for music from this side of the country to anyone near and far. Five stars

Disc 1
1. Born to Believe (new)
2. What Are You At (from Great Big Sea)
3. Run Runaway (from Up)
4. Goin’ Up (from Up)
5. When I’m Up (I Can’t Get Down) (from Play)
6. Ordinary Day (from Play)
7. How Did We Get From Saying “I Love You” (from Play)
8. Consequence Free (from Turn)
9. Feel It Turn (from Turn)
10. Boston and St. John’s (from Turn)
11. Sea of No Cares (from Sea of No Cares)
12. Clearest Indication (from Sea of No Cares)
13. When I Am King (from Something Beautiful*)
14. Something Beautiful (from Something Beautiful*)
15. Love Me Tonight (from Fortune’s Favour)
16. Walk On The Moon (from Fortune’s Favour)
17. Live This Life (new)
18. Nothing But A Song (from Safe Upon The Shore)
19. Long Life (Where Did You Go) (from Safe Upon The Shore)
20. Let My Love Open The Door (new)

Disc 2
1. Heart of Hearts (new)
2. Great Big Sea / Gone By The Board (from Great Big Sea)
3. Donkey Riding (from Play)
4. Gideon Brown (from Sea of No Cares)
5. Dancing With Mrs. White (from Up)
6. General Taylor (from Play)
7. Come And I Will Sing You (from The Hard and the Easy)
8. Ferryland Sealer (from Turn)
9. Lukey [with The Chieftains] (from Fire In The Kitchen)
10. Captain Wedderburn (from Turn)
11. Captain Kidd (from The Hard and the Easy)
12. Le Bon Vin (new)
13. England [Live] (from Courage & Patience & Grit)
14. Old Black Rum (from Up)
15. The Night Pat Murphy Died (from Play)
16. River Driver (from The Hard and the Easy)
17. Mari-Mac (from Up)
18. Excursion Around The Bay (from Great Big Sea)
19. Josephine The Baker (new)
20. Good People (from Safe Upon The Shore)

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