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BRIAN McNEILL The Baltic Tae Byzantium

The Baltic Tae Byzantium
Greentrax CDTRAX341

Forty years in the business; founder member of Battlefield Band, arguably the most influential Scottish band; novelist; teacher; Head of music at the R.S.A of Music and Drama; multi-instrumentalist; Songwriter extraordinaire with credits which include Lads O’ the Fair and No Gods and Precious Few Heroes. Just some of the achievements of Brian McNeill. Easy to understand why it has taken what must be 10 years since his last CD, sorry, previous CD, Back O’ The North Wind, about the stories of six Scots who emigrated to America. The Baltic tae Byzantium follows those who moved to the West.

There’s tales of pedlars, monks, soldiers, merchants and entrepreneurs amongst the likes of the more famous. All personal stories told in the personal style of Brian McNeill. To end the CD, Brian adds an amazing twist by telling the tale of how his father met and married the Austrian girl who was to become Brian’s mother, thanks to a torpedo. The evocative final track, featuring the autoharp of George Haig, is dedicated to his mother.

As already mentioned, as well as a superb singer, Brian is a true multi- instrumentalist, with no fewer than 10 credited on this CD. He is joined here by the wonderful voice of Sylvia Barnes, amongst many others providing instruments not played by Brian.

Well produced throughout by - yes you’ve guessed it - Brian himself. Extensive notes add to the meaning of the songs and music, whilst the front cover is excellent. A quality offering by someone whose songwriting is of the highest standard.

Oh yes amongst his achievements not mentioned are that he celebrates a significant birthday this year and was once awarded honoury Texan status!!

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 85 of The Living Tradition magazine.