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Kate & Anna McGarrigle


Country of origin:

Canada

Type of music generally:

Folk/Rock, some traditional material

Status:

Most recent release, Tell My Sister (remasters & unreleased tracks compilation, 2011). Sadly, Kate McGarrigle died in 2010.

See also:

Official McGarrigles website

Comparisons:

The Roches are the closest I can think to Kate & Anna McGarrigle—their sound and aesthetic is unique. (Neile)

Covers/own material:

Mostly own, some covers and co-written songs, some traditional French Canadian songs

General comments:

Amusing images and lyrics, odd harmonies, lively and heartbreaking songs, The McGarrigles have a truly unique sound. They are probably an acquired taste, but an easily acquired one, as they're so much fun. (Neile)

I just wanted to stress that it is my humble *opinion* that Kate and Anna are better than Kate Bush and Happy Rhodes. Kate and Anna are folksingers, which more suits the kind of music I like to listen to. Most everybody else on Ecto would like to have my head examined, I'm sure, for saying Kate and Anna are better than Happy. That having been said, though, please do check out the McGarrigle sisters! They are breathtakingly brilliant songwriters and they harmonize so beautifully together! (snooterbooter@yahoo.com)

Recommended first album:

Heartbeats Accelerating or Dancer With Bruised Knees. (Neile)

Selected Recordings:


Kate & Anna McGarrigle

Release info:

1975, reissued 1993—Rykodisc—Hannibal 4401

Availability:

wide in U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for folk music lovers

Group members:

Kate McGarrigle—piano, banjo, button accordion, guitar, vocals
Anna McGarrigle—piano, banjo, button accordion, vocals

Guest artists:

Tony Levin—bass
Stephen Gadd—drums
David Spinoza—guitar
Greg Prestopino—guitar, piano, vocals
Lowell George—guitar
Trevor Lawrence—horn arrangement
Bobby Keys—tenor sax solo
Tony Rice—guitar
Joel Tepp—harmonica
David Grisman—violin, mandolin
Red Callender—bass
Amos Garrett—guitar
Jane McGarrigle—Forland organ, vocals
Peter Weldon—banjo, percussion, vocals
Dane Lanken—vocals
Chaim Tannenbaum—guitar, harmonica, percussion, vocals
Jay Unger—fiddle
Michael Small—orchestral arrangement
Floyd Gilbeau—fiddle
George Bohanan—horn arrangement
Densil Lang—percussion
Plas Johnson—alto sax solo, clarinet
Russ Kunkel—drums
Nick DeCaro—accordion
Dimmy Dimbuster—percussion

Produced by:

Joe Boyd & Greg Prestopino

Comments:

Their first collection is just now being reissued on cd. This is a wonderful collection. They're great from the start, with magical songs like "Heart Like A Wheel" (later covered by Linda Ronstadt). (Neile)

Dancer With Bruised Knees

Release info:

1977, reissued 1993—Rykodisc—Hannibal 4402

Availability:

Wide in U.S.

Ecto priority:

Essential if you like their folky sound

Group members:

Kate McGarrigle—piano, button accordion, banjo, organ, vocals, harmony vocals
Anna McGarrigle—piano, button accordion, recorder, vocals, harmony vocals

Guest artists:

Chaim Tannenbaum—harmonica, recorder, mandolin, vocals
Peter Weldon—harmonica, vocals
Dane Lanken—trumpet, vocals
Andrew Cowan—lead guitar
Scot Lang—guitars
John Cale—organ, marimba
Mike Visciglia—bass
Grady Tate—drums
Tommy Morgan—harmonica
Richard Davis bass
Pat Donaldson—bass
Dave Mattacks—drums
Kenny Pearson—organ, electric piano
Warren Smith-congas
Stephen Gadd—drums
Ron Doleman—violin
Janie McGarrigle—organ
Susan Evans—percussion
Gordie Fleming—accordion
Gilles Losier—bass
George Bohanon—horns
Jay Unger—violin

Produced by:

Joe Boyd

Comments:

This is perhaps their best collection. Even Rolling Stone and Village Voice recognized how great this is. Some terrific songs—get this. "Southern Boys" alone is worth the price, but there are so many other wonderful songs that will live in your head forever! (Neile)

Pronto Monto

Release info:

1978—Warner Brothers—WB 56 561 (BSK 3248)

Availability:

Hard to find, out-of-print, vinyl only

Ecto priority:

Recommended if you like their other recordings

Group members:

Kate McGarrigle—squeeze box, piano, electric guitar, organ, lead vocals, harmony vocals
Anna McGarrigle—piano, squeeze box, lead vocals, harmony vocals

Guest artists:

Stephen Gadd—drums
Tony Levin—electric bass
David Spinozza—electric guitar
Jeff Mironov—electric guitar
Kenny "Disco Stu" Pearson—organ, clavinet, fender rhodes piano
George Devens—marimba, percussion
Susan Evans—percussion
Bernard Purdie—drums
Gordon Edwards—electric bass
Jon Sholle—electric slide guitar, f-hole guitar, acoustic guitar
David Nichtern—electric guitar, acoustic guitar
David Woodford—soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
"Kenny" Kosek—fiddle
Howard Johnson—horn arrangment
Gary Mallaber—drums
Pat Donaldson—electric bass
Jerry Donahue—electric guitar
Grady Tate—drums
Michael Moore—upright bass
Freebo—tuba, electric bass
Gary Mure—drums
Scot Lang—electric guitar
Chaim Tannenbaum—mandolin, harmonica, harmony vocals
George Young—clarinet
Walter Raim—string and woodwind arrangement, string quartet arrangement
Bob Glaub—electric bass
Victor Feldman—percussion
Gary Mallaber—drums
Bryan Cumming—tenor saxophone
Richard Resnicoff—electric guitar
Peter Weldon—harmony vocals
Dane Lanken—harmony vocals

Produced by:

David Nitchtern

Comments:

This is perhaps my least favourite of their collections, and is the only one that hasn't been re-released on cd. It does still have some wonderful songs, like their classic clever song, "NaCl" (later re-recorded on The McGarrigle Hour) which uses the chemistry of salt as a metaphor for romance. (Neile)

French Record

Release info:

1980, reissued 1992—Rykodisc/PolyGram (Canada)—Hannibal 1302; PolyGram 314 513 554-2

Availability:

Wide in U.S., U.K., and Canada

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended if you like their sound

Group members:

Kate McGarrigle—accordion, acoustic guitar, banjo, organ, vocals, harmony vocals
Anna McGarrigle—piano, accordion, vocals, harmony vocals

Guest artists:

Jean-Paul Robichaud—drums, congas, marimbas, percussion
Pat Donaldson—bass, harmony vocals
Scot Lang—acoustic guitar, rhythm guitar, electric guitar
Roger Walls—trumpet
Carlyle Miller—saxophone
Gary Nagels—trombone
Jane McGarrigle—organ, vocal harmony
Stephen Gadd—drums
Tony Levin—bass
David Spinoza—electric guitar
Andrew Gold—electric guitar
Greg Prestopino—electric guitar
Jay Unger—violin
Floyd Gilbeau—violin
Chaim Tannenbaum—harmonica, mandolin, harmony vocals
Joel Tepp—harmonica
Densil Lang—percussion
George Bohanan—horns
Graham Chambers—drums
Andrew Cowan—electric guitar, tambourine, mandolin
Alun Davies—acoustic guitar
Kenny Pearson—organ, electric piano
Jerry Conway—drums, congas
Peter Weldon—banjo
Gilles Losier—violin
Ken MacKenzie—bagpipes
Jorn Reissner—electric guitar
Gary More—drums
George Devens—percussion
Freebo—bass
Dane Lanken—harmony vocals

Produced by:

Kate, Anna & Jane McGarrigle; Joe Boyd & Greg Prestopino (one song), David Nitchtern (one song)

Comments:

McGarrigles all in French! Great songs. Like Dancer With Bruised Knees I have listen to this album for years and never tired of it. (Neile)

Love Over And Over

Release info:

1982—Polygram (Canada)—422 841 101-2

Availability:

Canada only

Ecto priority:

Recommended if you like their sound

Group members:

Kate McGarrigle—accordion, piano, fiddle, guitar, vocals, backing vocals, hums
Anna McGarrigle—piano, accordion, vocals, backing vocals, hums

Guest artists:

Gerry Conway—drums, percussion
Pat Donaldson—bass
Andrew Cowan—electric guitar, electric slide guitar
Alun Davies—acoustic guitar, backing vocals

Jane McGarrigle—piano, backing vocals
Chaim Tannenbaum—harmonica, banjo, sax, backing vocals
Paul Samwell-Smith—backing vocals
Kenny Pearson—electric piano, organ, tack piano
Scot Lang—acoustic highstrung guitar, electric guitar
Don Stephen—string arrangement and conducting
Mark Knofler—electric guitar
Jean-Paul Robichaud—drums
Gilles Losier—fiddles
Dane Lanken—banjo
Rufus Wainwright—vocals
Martha Wainwright—vocals
Sylvan Lanken—vocals
Lily Lanken—vocals
Al deBueno—drums

Produced by:

Kate, Anna, and Jane McGarrigle

Comments:

There are a few songs I don't enjoy that much on this one, but it has some great ones that make up for it, like "Star Cab Company" and "On My Way To Town". (Neile)

Heartbeats Accelerating

Release info:

1990—Private Music, 9014 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90069, USA—2070-2-P

Availability:

Canada & U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for lovers of folk and folkrock

Group members:

Anna McGarrigle—keyboard, B-3, drum, vocal
Kate McGarrigle—piano, accordion, keyboard, acoustic guitar, banjo, vocal, backing vocal

Guest artists:

Yves Gigon—drums, percussion
Daniel Gigon—bass
Michael Breen—guitars
Joel Zifkin—violin
Pierre Marchand—keyboards, drum program, synth bass, accordion, B-3, vocal
Bill Dillon—guitars, violin
Michael Dupirre—percussion
Jason Lang—guitars
Marc Langis—fretless bass, bass
Normal Barsalo—bass
Richard Mischook—guitar
Alain Lamontagne—feet
Rufus Wainwright—vocal
Pat Donaldson—bass, electric guitar

Produced by:

Pierre Marchand

Comments:

Classic McGarrigles. "I Eat Dinner" and "Hit and Run Love" are great examples of their songwriting skills. (Neile)

Matapedia

Release info:

1996—Rykodisc—Hannibal 1394

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended if you like the McGarrigles

Group members:

Kate McGarrigle—piano, banjo, guitar, celeste, synth, vocals
Anna McGarrigle—accordion, guitar, keyboard, piano, clavecin, synth, vocals

Guest artists:

Joel Zifkin—violin, vocals
Michel Pepin—guitars, bass, percussion, guitar, dobro, "wind", keyboard, vocals
Martha Wainwright—vocals
Lily Lanken—vocals
Sylvain Clavet—drums
Pat Donaldson—guitar, bass
Pierre Marchand—accordion, keyboards, drums
Mike DiNardo—drums
Andrew Cowan—guitar
Gilles Losier—violin
Gordie Adamson—drums

Produced by:

Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Michel Pepin, Pierre Marchand

Comments:

If it hadn't been for discovering Heather Nova this would be my favorite of the year. There is not a song on it that I don't like. If you liked their last (Heartbeats Accelerating), you'll love this one...it's even better, and not as depressing. Don't get me wrong, I loved Heartbeats Accelerating, but it did have some beautifully depressing songs.
     The last song on the CD ("The Bike Song") is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. It has the most wonderful ethereal backing vocals...very ecto, in my opinion. Parts of "Talk About It" remind me of Mary Margaret O'Hara. There is one song in French called "Arbre" that has the most amazing violin. I don't understand French, but that doesn't get in the way of my enjoyment of the song at all. (spike45@sos.sos.net)

So happy they have a new album. Not quite as wonderful as some of their earlier stuff (my favourite is still Dancer With Bruised Knees) but it will grow on me more as all of their other albums have. (Neile)


The McGarrigle Hour

Release info:

1998—Rykodisc—Hannibal 1417

Availability:

Canada & U.S.

Ecto priority:

Must have if you like their sound or want to try it

Group members:

Kate McGarrigle—banjo, piano, guitar, accordion, vocals
Anna McGarrigle—guitar, accordion, piano, bass, vocals

Guest artists:

Rufus Wainwright—piano, vocals
Martha Wainwright—guitar, vocals
Loudon Wainwright—guitar, vocals
Chaim Tannenbaum—mandolin, vocals
Michel Pepin—guitar, bass, mandolin
John McColgan—drums, percussion
Emmylou Harris—vocals
Linda Ronstadt—vocals
Joel Zifkin—violin
Lily Lanken—vocals
Jane McGarrigle—piano, vocals
Dane Lanken—vocals
Tom Mennier—piano
Phillippe Tatartcheff—recitation

Produced by:

Joe Boyd

Comments:

it's a phenomenal cd! everyone takes turns singing and they all do a fab job—it sounds like it was a lot of fun to make! (cjmacs@micronet.net)

highly recommended...great performances from the whole clan...and more! (burka@jeffrey.net)

I love Kate &Anna McGarrigle, and have enjoyed my few listenings to this. Still, I'd prefer another Heartbeats Accelerating or Dancer with Bruised Knees, or hell, a re-release of Pronto Monto. (Neile)


La Vache Qui Pleure

Release info:

2003—Les Disques de La Tribu

Availability:

Wide in Canada

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for McGarrigles fans

Group members:

Kate McGarrigle—acoustic guitar, Rickenback, synth flutes, violin, banjo, tambourine, piano, accordion, vocals
Anna McGarrigle—accordion, banjo, synth flutes, synthesizer, synth vibraphone, flûte à bec, acoustic guitar, Juno 60, omnichord, piano, tambourine, vocals

Guest artists:

John McColgan—drums
Michel Pépin—bass, lead guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, Hammmond B3, percussion, harmonica, drums, vocals
Joel Zifkin—violin
Butch—drums, percussion
Jeff Hill—contrebass, bass
Lily Lanken—vocals
Martha Wainwright—acoustic "Spanish" guitar, vocals
Philippe Tatartcheff—spoken word
Marc Lessard—drums
Daniel Thonon—vièle à roue
Michael Jerome Brown—slide guitar

Comments:

This is an album almost entirely in French, and to my ear is a return to form for the McGarrigles. It's fairly mellow compared to previous albums, but quite delightful and full of the McGarrigles' unique harmonies. Recommended. (Neile)

Further info:

DVD Not So Silent Night was released October 2009.

They have played and sung with many artists, including The Albion Band, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, Robin Holcomb, and Gabriel Yacoub.

Many artists including Heidi Berry, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris have covered several of their songs.


Thanks to Leon van Stuivenberg for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2013-09-01 00:47:46.
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