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Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX371

There have been a few bodies who have passed through the ranks of the Occasionals over the 25 years (really) during which they have established themselves as one of the outstanding Scottish dance bands. This latest CD has Freeland Barbour on accordion, Ian Hardie, fiddle; Kevin MacLeod, banjo, mandolin and guitars; and Gus Millar on drums.

As befits a group with so much experience together, they are able to play strict-tempo better than most, and yet still let the music sound free-flowing – a knack to which many aspire, but don’t always achieve. The trick is in knowing the tunes inside-out, and also in having an absolute confidence in the rest of the band – qualities that shine out in every track, as it is evident that the guys are having great fun playing, yet never losing sight of the fact that the tunes are being played for dancing, and therefore need the discipline which that brings.

The accompanying notes about the sets also, very helpfully, suggest the dances which can be done to them, so there’s no excuse for not rolling up the carpet and having a go, and if you’re not too sure how they are performed, then check out the band’s earlier-released instructional DVD!

My pleasure in getting this CD to review was offset by the sad news, only two days later, of Ian Hardie’s passing. He was a true gentleman, always encouraging and supporting other musicians, and this CD is part of a superb legacy of the man.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 94 of The Living Tradition magazine.