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VARIOUS ARTISTS - For Freedom Alone (The Wars Of Independence)

VARIOUS ARTISTS - For Freedom Alone (The Wars Of Independence)
Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX1314

The fifth release in Greentrax’s ‘wars and battles’ series, this album follows their established and successful pattern, with tracks culled from Greentrax’s extensive catalogue as well as various other labels.

The theme is given by the title and William Wallace, The Bruce and Bannockburn feature strongly throughout. A powerful line-up of traditional artists such as The Corries, The McCalmans, Alistair MacDonald, Alex Hodgson, Ian Bruce, Arthur Johnstone and Robin Laing deliver rousing war-songs and poignant laments. Scotland’s two anthems, Scots Wha Hae and Flower Of Scotland, top and tail the performances. Dick Gaughan’s Both Sides The Tweed adds some counterweight.

While the bulk of the 18 tracks consists of songs, Iain Anderson reads a touching extract from The Declaration of Arbroath and a delightful poem about the famous spider legend. Alasdair Fraser, with Natalie Hass and Skyedance, contributes a pair of tunes. Only one woman sings, but Sylvia Barnes gives typically beautiful renditions of two songs.

As with earlier releases, Jim Paris has compiled a beautifully produced and comprehensive booklet of sleeve notes and historical facts to augment the music.

Without being jingoistic, For Freedom Alone sheds light on key events which shaped national identity and character and shows how music can bring vitality to history, while also informing and stimulating listeners. With the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn approaching (and another date set in the calendar for 18th September) this stirring and pertinent album may add fuel to an already plentiful fire, as well as providing a reminder of our heritage.

Jim McCourt

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This album was reviewed in Issue 103 of The Living Tradition magazine.