BLAZIN' FIDDLES - Magnificent Seven
Own Label BRCD004

Album number three sees the same Blazin' Fiddles line-up as their last release. Fiddlers Bruce MacGregor, Iain MacFarlane, Catriona MacDonald, Allan Henderson and Aidan O'Rourke are backed up by Marc Clements on guitar and Andy Thorburn on keyboards. The Irish fiddler in the band has made a difference this time: the repertoire now includes Donegal highlands, quite a few Irish reels, and some of Aidan's own tunes.

One of the nicest things about Blazin' Fiddles is that they leave space for the soloists. Each fiddler gets a set to himself or herself. Aidan and Allan bring out some of their own tunes: ‘The Grey Dog’ and ‘The Poker Signature’ amply illustrate Aidan's composing talent, and Allan's jig ‘A Trip to Errigal’ sticks in the brain. Catriona plays a slow piece by Annbjorn Lien, which is surprisingly bland given the two ladies' usual brilliance. Bruce chooses a couple of Anglo-Scots hornpipes, both showpieces and both driven hard in the powerful north east fiddle style. Iain delivers the beautiful ‘Skye Air’, written about two centuries before they started putting the stuff in cans, followed by a slow jig which drags a bit on repeated listening.

The remaining seven tracks justify the magnificent title. Two, three and five fiddles blaze through some rousing traditional tunes, and a few modern gems. The monster piping jig ‘Donald MacLean’ sets the tone for up-tempo numbers including ‘The Donegal Set’, ‘The Shetland Set’ and Bob Wills' Texas swing waltz ‘Lily Dale’. Slower tunes include the well-known ‘Eagle's Whistle’, a fine rendition of Neil Gow's ‘Drunk At Night, Dry In The Morning’, and the late lamented Johnny Cunningham's air ‘Murdo Of The Moon’. The whole hour is very enjoyable, and at times enchanting.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 65 of The Living Tradition magazine.