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VARIOUS ARTISTS - ¡No Pasaran! - Scots In The Spanish Civil War

VARIOUS ARTISTS - ¡No Pasaran! - Scots In The Spanish Civil War
Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX3639

When it comes to putting together themed single CD compilations, Greentrax stand head and shoulders above other companies. They’ve already delighted us with sets revealing the light-hearted side of Christmas and the horrors of the first world war. Now they have turned their attention to the Scots who went to Spain to fight Fascism in 1936.

What makes their compilations so outstanding is not simply the range and thoroughness of the selection of songs incorporated, from the obvious but essential to new material providing fresh insight or dimension, but also the range of sources – archive recordings to specially commissioned sessions; their own extensive back catalogue and that of other labels, in some cases long defunct. Here, the archive material includes The Laggan, John Watt, The Wakes and The McCalmans who open proceedings with a rousing live version of The Peatbog Soldiers. Among the new recordings are Alison McMorland, Christine Kydd (singing in Spanish), Robin Laing with a new song inspired by Picasso’s Guernica, and Dick Gaughan with a new version of Jamie Foyers which contrives to surpass his earlier definitive recording.

Most of the songs are unfamiliar: this itself shows us why we need reminding of the sacrifices made by the brave men of the Left who volunteered to stand for their principles.

Moving, inspiring, often deeply personal, sometimes funny (not least because of some of the Hiberian Hispanic pronunciations), the songs build to a rousing folk rock version of the people’s anthem No Pasaran! before subsiding for a quiet requiem in the form of a poem read by Ian Anderson.

It may not be an obvious purchase but it is one you will not regret, an album to which you will regularly return, a homage to Caledonia.

Nigel Schofield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 93 of The Living Tradition magazine.