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BATTLEFIELD BAND - "Happy Daze" - Temple Records COMD2085

I started my review of the Batties' previous offering by saying that it was an utterly predictable album in that you know what you're going to hear, namely some excellent tune sets and some beautifully sung songs, finished with that all-round gloss - called 'production' - which sets them apart from so many of their would be rivals.

I can't repeat my remarks this time, however, because the sad loss of the services of Davy Steele has meant a change in the band line-up. So, predictable no more, how do they sound?

Well, on 'Happy Daze' you'll still find the excellent tune sets from the pens (or computer software) of piper Mike Katz and fiddler John McCusker - whose range and style of composition seems to be ever expanding - while Alan Reid once again contributes some fine 'new traditional' songs in his inimitable style.

Understandably, however, most ears will be on New Battie Karine Polwart, whose way round a traditional song first brought her to the attention of the public. Though relatively unknown (and Battie fans might chuckle as they remember the introduction of John McCusker-Who?) she's since gone on to show that she can sing just about anything, play a generous guitar and write sensitive, intelligent songs, too. Her contribution to the Band in the days to come - whether singing, playing or writing - looks like being very much of an added attraction.

So perhaps I wasn't so wrong at the beginning. Perhaps this is a predictable album again, because if it has the words Battlefield Band on the cover, it must be first class.

Alan McIntosh Brown

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