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SANDY BRECHIN & JIMMY JOHANSSON - Music From Polecats And Dead Cats 
Brechin All Records ISBN: 9789198519877 

Scottish accordion virtuoso Sandy Brechin has joined forces with Swedish musicians Jimmy Johansson (violin) and Christopher Andersson Baang (double bass) – cue extensive jokes about fermented herring – to produce an album of traditional and composed tunes celebrating the style of both countries. This is the tunebook for the excellent album of the same name. Hallmarks of Brechin’s humour abound - one tune is called Brechin Wind - and there are a number of cartoons and skit illustrations. When it comes to the tunes, it’s not easy to relate the unhelpful medley titles from the album to the tunes in the book. For example, the track Lymes Disease And Hair Loss turns out to be three tunes – Bukstötam (The Belly Bumper), Fästingdräparn (The Tic Slayer) and Roland’s Nightmare (you’ll have to read the notes to see why!). There is some great stuff here. There are 30 tunes, 10 of which sport Johansson’s Swedish-style harmonies. However most tunes are not easy, especially at the speed at which they are played on the album (no speed indications are given in the book). It’ll take a great deal of work to get your triplets as crisp as Brechin or Johansson! I recommend using the book in conjunction with the album (available from his shop or on Bandcamp) – they’re both very enjoyable.

Paul Burgess


This review appeared in Issue 140 of The Living Tradition magazine