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World Music CD Reviews Europe


Published January 25, 2006

From Heaven Into Hell

Revelling Crooks, a German band whose instrumentation includes banjo, mandolin, accordion and violin, is one of those eclectic roots music bands that defies categorization. The cover lists the sextet’s music as “klezmer-country-Balkan-folk” and claims that the band plays with the rousing energy of rock and roll and ska, although Revelling Crooks don’t necessarily draw directly from those genres or their repertoires. The group mostly fuses music from Eastern and Western Europe with vocals being in English, Russian, Yiddish or German, although half the tracks are instrumentals. The group mixes traditional selections such as “Black Jack Davey” and “Di Grine Kuzine” (a song about the fate of Jewish refugees coming to America), original material (the title song, about an evening of drinking that ends badly), and a rowdy cut-and-paste version of Shakespeare’s “Sonnet No. 76”! A few songs, such as Jean Ritchie’s “The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore,” don’t boast especially compelling arrangements but Revelling Crooks are eminently able musicians whose occasional lack of ingenuity is usually compensated for by the raucous sense of fun they bring to their music.