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JOCK TAMSON'S BAIRNS May you Never Lack a Scone Greentrax CDTRAX206

A new JTB's CD is a major event - 20-odd years is a long time between albums, especially as their last (1982 "Lasses Fashion") was chosen as one of the all-time top ten albums by Richard Thompson - a man who knows a good band when he hears it - for "Q" magazine. In truth, "The Bairns" have not existed as a working unit for all of that time but the new lineup of original members Rod Paterson, John Croall, Derek Hoy, Ian Hardie and Norman Chalmers sounds just like it did in 1982 - still fresh, lively and inventive. Their ability to make new and innovative noises on a very traditional set of instruments is astounding and the grey hairs don't show on CD!

Here we have 13 tracks of songs, tunes and sets - and Rod Paterson's voice is, predictably, very much in evidence. The man could sing the telephone directory and make it moving. However, his instantly-identifiable tones contrast and blend beautifully with John Croall's on songs like (Robert) Tannahill's wistful "Braes o' Gleniffer" the bouncy "Johnny Sangster and the even more bouncy "Donal Don" - from whence comes the puzzling reference to scones (buy the CD to find out more).

The CD kicks off with a rousing marching drum and never lets loose your attention - whether it's through the lyricism of "Bogie's Bonnie Bell", with a different melody from the one we all know, or the gentle swing of "Woo'd and Married and A'" which puts me in mind of mid-period Nic Jones, incongruously enough. Perhaps it's just the easy, lazy guitar - it sure ain't the accents! As you'd expect, the instruments are as tight as the proverbial duck's behind with the distinctive JTB's swing (although less marked than that of their descendent band - the Easy Club) that we all know and love. Anything new here, then? Well, the sound's perhaps fuller-sounding but that may just be the effect of more experience in production amongst the band members - the ensemble-singing on "Gude Claret" is especially impressive.

I could do a track-by-track, but it wouldn't help you. This is 24-carat JTBs, sounding like they've never been away and the 20 years simply have not passed. It was a fabulous sound then and it still is now. Mighty indeed.

Alan Murray

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This album was reviewed in Issue 42 of The Living Tradition magazine.