Link to Living Tradition Homepage






Attic Records ATCD082

A young Orkney fiddler, pupil of Jennifer Wrigley, Eric Linklater shows great skill and flair on this debut recording. Starting off with a couple of American old-time reels in fine style, he follows up with an almost classic Scottish medley before heading north-east for an old Norwegian polka. This mix of traditions epitomises the conundrum which is Orcadian music: sitting just off the Scottish coast, yet isolated enough to rely on radio transmissions from across the Atlantic with their jazz and bluegrass licks, the Orkney islanders probably lean as much towards Shetland and Scandinavia as they do towards Scotland. There's more than a touch of Irish influence here too: Sean McGuire's Reels are executed in a suitably flamboyant manner, and Eric's fiddle is joined by jaunty mandolin for The Cavan Reel and The Galway Rambler. Just in case that isn't enough variety, Eric throws in a pair of his own tunes written for two musical young ladies, Jig for Jane and Alice Tait's Reel.

Shetland composers Tom Anderson and Willie Hunter are well represented, the latter furnishing Eric with the beautiful slow air Love O' Da Isles. Shetland's Peerie Willie Johnson is not far from guitarist Stewart Shearer's thoughts during his down-home accompaniment to the American fiddle classic Cotton Patch Rag. More mainstream Scottish music comes from Scott Skinner, Simon Bradley and Fred Morrison, some big strathspeys and reels handled with aplomb. Jennifer, Stewart, Eric himself of course, and Jimmy Johnston provide recent Orcadian compositions: Jennifer's jig Newark Bay from the Wrigley twins' Skyran album is a great wee tune, and the slow air The Mermaid's Chair which ends this CD is a lovely piece well worth recording. There are six accompanists credited in the scanty sleeve notes, but the arrangements are never overpowering. The fiddle is definitely in the driving seat, and this masterly debut makes it clear that Orkney music has a new young star in Eric Linklater.

Alex Monaghan


Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 95 of The Living Tradition magazine.