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PHIL MacLENNAN SMILLIE - Sound Of Taransay

PHIL MacLENNAN SMILLIE - Sound Of Taransay
Hedera Records HRCD106

Despite 40 years of touring with the Tannahill Weavers, Phil Smillie is not a household name in Scottish folk circles. Until now he has not grabbed the limelight, usually leaving that to the pipers and singers in the group. Sound Of Taransay may change things: here Phil introduces 11 new compositions, a new solo career and even a new name. The album is slightly short at 32 minutes, but there's no shortage of depth: in addition to Phil's flutes and whistles there are four pipers, four fiddlers, accordion, harp, piano, guitars and drums. The sound isn't so far from the Tannies in many cases, but there are no songs and a smidgen more flute and whistle of course.

Phil plays whistle in a pipey style, reminiscent of Alex Green from Aberdeen, or the late great Edinburgh whistler Jimmy Greenan who first introduced me to this style. The piping influence isn't surprising after so long with the Tannies and Phil has gathered some great pipers to play along with him: Kenny Forsyth of course, Dougie McCance on Border pipes, Fred Morrison on uilleann pipes and the young virtuoso Ross Ainslie. Captain Kim Frizzell and Reel For Ruairidh stand out among Phil's pipe-friendly compositions and the Old Pier Road set kicks up a storm with Charlie Kerron on fiddle and Gary Innes on box. I think I still prefer the traditional melodies here such as The Mermaid's Song, Captain Craig Brown and Domhnall Dubh. Sound Of Taransay finishes with a rousing version of Finlay MacRae's march Megan's Wedding, another highlight for me. With good notes and a very colourful JoLoMo-like cover, this CD is worth a look: try for a taster.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 98 of The Living Tradition magazine.