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Tom Spiers - "Allan Water" - LTCD1005

What a delight to hear this gem of a recording from a man so immersed in his tradition, that of Northeast Scotland! Mind you, Tom was privileged to be part of the wonderful Aberdeen Folk Club from 1962 onwards, where he heard the best of that tradition, from Jeannie Robertson to Jimmy McBeath, presented by the late much lamented Arthur Argo.

This is Tom's first solo effort but the lessons of that time were well learned, and even if a little short at 44 minutes, this CD is a credit to him and the Tradition Bearers series. Unusually, Tom accompanies his singing with his own fiddle, which he plays in "unison" style with his voice and all recorded in his own studio. As is normal with traditional singers, he's not afraid to adapt and extend existing songs such as Jeannie Robertson's splendid fragment "Rolling in the Dew", and it works when you know what you're at! The album notes are informative and refreshingly un-academic although it'd be good to have some song words, e.g. the great peter Hall-collected version of the "Young Sailor Cut Down". Also, if you've forgotten what a cracking song "Rhynie" is, here's a reminder.

Tom's mellow and gently expressive voice is at its best on "Ythanside", learned from Willie Scott's one-time housekeeper, Daisy Chapman and on this track and several others, he has the nous to know when NOT to accompany - a rare gift! This is a real unpretentious addition to the rich Scottish song tradition - I say 'real' because who but an Aberdonian could rhyme 'bustle' with 'whistle'.

Jim Bainbridge

To Hear Some Sample Tracks Click Here (Needs Real Player)

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This album was reviewed in Issue 46 of The Living Tradition magazine.