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"Songs of the Jacobite Risings"
Greentrax CDTRAX 234

An album of songs tied up with the Jacobite risings is bound to open up old wounds, and revive ancient debates. Much of the original source material is distorted by sentimentalism, and if you have an interest in historical fact you're looking in the wrong place. An attempt to introduce an element of chronological structure to this exercise has resulted in some very unlikely adjacent musical bedfellows (Ian Bruce followed by Ewan MacColl, Aileen Carr followed by Brian McNeill). Leaving aside some of the blatant jingoism and misplaced emotional angst, there are some musical gems - we even get two opportunities to renew our acquaintance with The Corries.

There is, alas, no new material here - but it's a great opportunity to hear some classic songs in their most nearly perfect versions - particularly Heather Heywood's Bonnie Moorhen and Robin Laing's The Summer of '45. Sadly for some, the album is stalked by ghosts (and not only the Clans - we are poignantly reminded of Derek Moffat, Davy Steele, Ewan MacColl and Roy Williamson in particular [and what a setting to remember them]). I continue to be confused by Brian McNeill singing in riddles though ('easy tricks of virtue' - what's that all about), but he does have a cracking voice. Alistair McDonald's version of The Massacre of Glencoe is the zenith for me (although because of the chronology it has to appear near the beginning), but all of the tracks have serious credentials. Now where did I leave my claymore?


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This album was reviewed in Issue 50 of The Living Tradition magazine.