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Brechin All Records CDBAR033 

Mad, trad and dangerous to know: this outfit is possibly Edinburgh's most rock'n'roll ceilidh band, and certainly its worst punsters - a capital offence, obviously. Shandrix, as they are known by their astonishingly large number of friends, are both ground-breaking and grimace-making. Who else would put jigs and reels together in the same set, AND play the intro on sixties slack-strung swamp guitar, AND keep playing for almost seven minutes, AND not even finish with a proper chord?! The madness continues with an Orcadian Strip The Willow set which lasts well over seven minutes - this isn't Cape Breton, guys! Thankfully there are more reasonable lengths for Circassian Circle, The Gay Gordons, Pride Of Erin Waltz, Cumberland Square and a number of other ceilidh favourites. Foxy Laddie gives composers for almost every tune, in lurid Age of Aquarius fonts, with very few pieces simply traditional.

Fronted in large part [sic] by accordion alchemist Sandy Brechin, on its second album this band boasts contributions from fiddlers Alison Smith, Aly Macrae, Gregor Borland, Pete Clark and Ronan Martin - not all at once - plus some more exotic members such as Steve Kettley on sax and Stuart Nisbet on pedal steel guitar. Gary West cameos on Scottish smallpipes, and Brandi Sequin stands in for Couscous Macafferty on piano, with the classic back line of bass, drums and shaky eggs. There's a high proportion of pipe tunes here, from big competition reels such as Dolina McKay to Gordon Duncan's jaunty Pitlochry High School Centenary. Compositions by box-players are also favoured: Freeland Barbour, Phil Cunningham and Fergie MacDonald are all credited, together with a dozen or so of Sandy F Brechin's own creations. A bit of Balkan, a lot of Irish, and even an American tune or two make this an intriguing and entertaining album - great for dancers, good for listeners, but seriously bad for the eyes! 

Alex Monaghan


This review appeared in Issue 130 of The Living Tradition magazine