BATTLEFIELD BAND – The Producer’s Choice (Temple COMD2108)

Producer's ChoiceIn late 2016 Battlefield Band was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall Of Fame which gave their long-time producer Robin Morton the excuse, if excuse were needed, to celebrate. Hence The Producer’s Choice, nineteen tracks featuring nineteen members of the band plus guest percussionists Donald Hay and Morton himself. Actually I count twenty but I don’t know what Jim Barnes had to do to be excluded from the official count.

The big names who passed through the band’s ranks are legends: Brian McNeill, Alan Reid, John McCusker, Davy Steele, Karine Polwart and, latterly, Ewan Henderson. All are featured but it’s probably the more obscure tracks that excite the most interest. The oldest tracks are ‘The Shipyard Apprentice’ and ‘Silver Spear/The Humours Of Tulla’ from 1977 featuring Reid, McNeill, John Gahagan and Jamie McMenemy followed by ‘Seven Braw Gowns’ from 1979 and featuring the band’s first female vocalist, Jenny Clark. Archie Fisher’s song is one of my favourite tracks in the set alongside McNeill’s ‘Lads O’ The Fair’ and ‘Rantin’ Rovin’ Robin’ featuring one of Scotland’s most underrated singers, Sylvia Barnes. ‘Leaving Friday Harbor’ is one of John McCusker’s finest tunes and I love the way that ‘The Canongate Twitch’ opens with the ‘Pinball Wizard’ riff.

The Producer’s Choice may be an important lesson for bands: let your producer sequence your album. Morton has done a superb job in mixing light and shade, songs and instrumentals, allowing the mood to go one way for a while before switching direction without any sense of dislocation. So Alan Reid’s wonderful song, ‘The Road Of Tears’, is followed by Ged Foley’s ‘Blackhall Rocks’ – stirring yet mournful – and then we’re into the melodic but rousing ‘Rantin’ Rovin’ Robin’.

For those who prefer Battlefield Band in stomping mood the album closes with the live ‘After Hours’ set and I was surprised to find that they have made only three live albums in over forty years – back in the 80s they were one of the hottest festival bands on the scene. Funny how things turn out.

Dai Jeffries

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Artists’ website: www.battlefieldband.co.uk

‘The Road Of Tears’ from the film Battlefield Band In Concert available from Temple Records.

Old Blind Dogs announce new album

 

Old Blind Dogs

Old Blind Dogs are back  with a new record and a new line up.

Original member, Jonny Hardie (Fiddle / Vocals) is joined by long term partners Aaron Jones (Bouzouki / Vocals), Ali Hutton (Pipes / Whistles) and new percussion powerhouse Donald Hay.

In their twenty five year history this is The Dogs’ thirteenth release and their first in six years. Back to their best with a recording capturing the infectious energy of their live show, Room With A View has excitement, beauty and their trademark powerful vocals.

A Scottish band that takes their historical ties seriously, Old Blind Dogs’ new recording captures parts of a tradition that goes back a long way. Great story telling and timeless tunes made for the ups and downs of life … and dancing!

The Dogs have spent a lot of time touring in America and opening track ‘Bunker Hill’ is a perfect example of tunes travelling from one country to another, adapting to their surroundings as they go.

Music by brilliant current tune writers sits seamlessly with tunes from days gone by, from ‘Ali’s Cairo Day’ and Alasdair White’s brand new ‘An Iuchair’ to Breton gavottes and old Scottish pipe reels. Aaron was interested in singing songs from where he lives so there are two from Lionel McLelland, a great poet from Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway, the enchanting ‘Earl O March’s Daughter’ and the dark tale of ‘Sawney Bean’.

Jonny was fascinated with the Orcadian history of The Maid of Norway, so ‘A Ring On Her Hand’ by Saltfishforty’s Brian Cromarty has been given the Old Blind Dogs pounding groove treatment.

Recorded and mixed at Carrier Waves Studio in Glasgow by Andrea Gobbi. This was a genuinely collaborative and enjoyable process for everyone involved. We’re looking forward to the next chapter in this influential band’s long history.

Old Blind Dogs will be touring the UK in April / May 2017, the USA in September / October 2017 and Germany in November 2017.

Artists’ website: www.oldblinddogs.co.uk

Old Blind Dogs live at this year’s Celtic Connections:

MUCH ANTICIPATED ALBUM FROM DAMIAN HELLIWELL’S PROJECT ‘METTA’

Metta

RELEASE DATE: Monday, 9th June, 2014

 

Having released an EP in January, the much anticipated self-titled album, Damian Helliwell’s “Metta”, will be released on the 9th June.

Acclaimed for his musicianship and compositional flair with the renowned Gaelic band Dàimh, “METTA” steps out of the genre to showcase Damian’s most accomplished and progressive work to date.

Damian Helliwell’s Metta is a groundbreaking compositional debut that uses the traditional genre as a platform to expand and develop from. It is also a project featuring some of Scotland’s most highly respected traditional musicians, with Eilidh Shaw on fiddle, Jen Hill on double bass, Andy Thorburn on piano and Donald Hay on percussion alongside Helliwell on mandolin and tenor Banjo. The result breaks norms in instrumental hierarchy and stretches the boundaries of rhythm and melody. This innovative debut marks Helliwell’s Metta out as one of the most exciting new acts on the Scottish music scene.

Helliwell’s uniquely individual approach is apparent on all levels of this project, not only in his compositional style. Six years ago the self-taught instrumentalist vanished from an active life in Edinburgh’s traditional music scene, returning to the remote Hebridean island of his upbringing. Here he quietly set about single handedly building a straw bale house and recording studio, creating the perfect environment to foster and nourish creativity. At the same time, he was writing prolifically, relishing the creativity that the space and solitude inspired.

This album is the fruitful culmination of Helliwell’s efforts and ambition, finally brought into form with a star studded group of the most expressive and sensitive musicians in the country, and recorded in the ancient Pythagorean tuning of A=432hz (said to access the resonance of the full harmonic overtone series). A vibrant, atmospheric sound that defies easy categorisation, Metta is richly emotive, passionate and original.

The album was recorded and produced on the Hebridean Island of Eigg. Damian is a proud resident of Eigg and releases the album to coincide with and celebrate the 17th anniversary of “Eigg Independence Day” on the 12th June, which marks the date of the historic community “buy out” of the island, 17 years ago.

Damian is extremely passionate about this album and indeed the Isle of Eigg. His emotions are best described by the man himself:

This project and album is the culmination of several years of writing and a lifetime of playing, a reflection of the beauty of the environment I live in and an expression of my passion and love for that beauty.

To realize this new music I was privileged to have four incredible musicians working with me. Their naturally expressive musicality fitted the material perfectly and I am sincerely grateful for their creative input, professionalism, experience and love that they brought to this project. They enabled it to reach the place I dreamt of.

We recorded this album over two weeks, in the inspirational tranquility of my studio in Eigg. To capture the raw energy of the music, it was recorded, live and in the resonant pythagorian tuning of A=432hz”

Artists’ website: www.metta-music.com

FAR, FAR FROM YPRES – ONE OF THE EMOTIONAL HIGHLIGHTS OF CELTIC CONNECTIONS 2012

A stage show featuring songs, music, poetry and images of WW1, and inspired by a double CD published by Greentrax Recordings, ‘Far, Far From Ypres’, played to a packed audience at The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday, 21st January, as part of Celtic Connections 2012.

This premier performance took place in a week when the film War Horse went on general release.  People who had seen both War Horse and Far, Far from Ypres commented on how the human voice in combination with the projected still images in the Ypres show had an even greater emotional impact on them than the film.

Narrated by Iain Anderson of BBC Radio Scotland, the show grew from an initial plan for 12 musicians to a cast of 23 people.  The show was both entertaining and emotional resulting in a standing ovation in the packed hall.  Iain Anderson said that for him this was the most emotional event he has ever participated in.

FAR, FAR FROM YPRES – CELTIC CONNECTIONS STAGE SHOW STARTS WITH CAST OF 12 AND ENDS UP WITH 23.

‘ …The enthusiasm and commitment from all the participants is immense and was a remarkable and unique stage presentation.’

‘Far, Far From Ypres’ presented the Songs, Poems & Music of World War 1, much of it viewed from a Scottish perspective.  The performance was as enjoyable as it was thought provoking and inspirational.  A shorter version of the show was a highlight of a recent concert in The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Scotland’s major folk music label, Greentrax Recordings.

The live performance followed on from a critically acclaimed album ‘Far, Far From Ypres – Songs, Poems & Music of World War 1’ which Greentrax Recordings released in 2008.  As well as being successful as a music release, the album is featured in Army Museums in the UK and has become an inspirational resource for many visitors to the Visitor Centres and Museums in Belgium and France.

When Ian McCalman of the Scottish folk group, The McCalmans, was asked to produce the show, he envisaged the size of the cast being limited to 12.  He was then inundated by calls from musicians who had some sort of distant connection to the Great War.  Ian McCalman said; “Budget was not a priority to those musicians, who were more interested in being involved in a project with which they could all identify.  We couldn’t possibly have attracted ‘names’ like Barbara Dickson, Dick Gaughan, Sangsters, Stephen Quigg and the other equally talented musicians if they had not been interested in the show’s content.  It is a labour of love for them all and I applaud them for it.”  “The enthusiasm and commitment from all the participants is immense and has resulted in a remarkable and unique stage presentation.”

Ian McCalman committed himself totally to the stage show assembling a cast of experienced performers including Barbara Dickson, Dick Gaughan, Ian Bruce. Stevie Palmer, Stephen Quigg, Donald Hay, Tom Ward and folk groups Sangsters, Soopna and Ragged Glory.  Iain Anderson of BBC Radio Scotland was the narrator for the stage show.

Back projection of graphics and photographs from WW1 was by Pete Heywood, Editor of The Living Tradition magazine.  The Living Tradition featured Far, Far from Ypres after it was released on CD and encouraged the idea of extending the project to include a staged version.

The show was sold out two weeks in advance of the performance.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.