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VARIOUS ARTISTS - A Tribute In Music And Song To John Bellany

VARIOUS ARTISTS - A Tribute In Music And Song To John Bellany
Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX386

John Bellany was a Scottish painter of evocative landscapes and portraits, many linked to the fishing industry, and his home town of Port Seton. With apologies for the obvious metaphor, this CD is a sparkling, colourful and contrasting commemoration of his life, times and musical tastes. A myriad of harmonic hues and tones come together to form a coherent and joyous overall picture.

The 19 tracks include solo pieces, chorus songs, local community choirs, instrumentals and hymns. There are places for classic folk songs – Shoals Of Herring (Rod Paterson with Coelbeg); Dark Lochnagar (Calum Kennedy); Road To Dundee (The Corries) and Bonaparte’s Retreat (Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham), as well as Ae Fond Kiss and even Moon River! Davy Steele, Hamish Moore (once, playing the Scottish smallpipes) and Alex Hodgson each make two appearances. The McCalmans contribute the rousing Aberlady Bay. Three pieces are new compositions.

A glossy booklet, studded with photographs of John, includes notes on the songs and explanations of their relevance in his life. A beautiful and loving article by John’s wife (Helen) links his art to the music. Ian Green also contributes a touching piece.

Displaying all the high standards to be expected of a Greentrax compilation, this tribute to John Bellany was a pleasure to review and a listener’s delight. Never twee or insipid, but packed with an array of selections reflecting his interests and complexities, this album is a fine and sensitive testimony to the man, and to the calibre of Scots folk music.

Jim McCourt

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This album was reviewed in Issue 112 of The Living Tradition magazine.