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FIDDLERS' BID "Da farder ben da welcomer" Greentrax CDTRAX 218

It's hard to believe that this Shetland band have just celebrated their tenth anniversary year, given that most of the players are in their mid twenties, and they do it in style with an album which captures the essence of their live sound.

The four fiddle frontal attack of Chris Stout, Maurice Henderson, Kevin Henderson and Andrew Gifford is as keen as ever - fiesty fired-up playing on the reels and jigs backed by genuinely eye wiping arrangements on the slower sets. This is where da Bid excel over the competition; the care and attention taken to arrangements are at times just stunning, and are intertwined with the back line of Steve Yarrington's guitar, Dave Cole's bass and Catriona McKay's piano. Just listen to the 'Pumping Bass' set or 'Da waters o' da Gut' if you need convincing.

Ms McKay ably demonstrates why she is currently one of the country's top clarsach players - but she's also a fantastic accompanist, the piano syncopation on the opening set of reels, which features three eminent Shetland composers, immediately captures the ears. And if she can knock off more tunes like 'The Swan' the repertoire will be greatly enhanced. It's simply one of the most beautiful compositions of recent years.

The amazing thing is this is such a traditional album - there are no special effects or beats lumped in. The tunes, either self-composed or otherwise Shetland based respect their heritage. Old favourites like 'Da Shaalds' and 'Da Full Rigged Ship' are given immense respect in the tempo and careful restraint employed, whilst Chris Stout's composition 'Zander the Sander' almost defies gravity with a complex time signature played at immense speed. Easily one of the most exciting live acts currently on the scene, they've finally got a studio recording that does them justice. Album of any year.

Iain McQueen

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This album was reviewed in Issue 47 of The Living Tradition magazine.