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VARIOUS ARTISTS - The Music And Song Of The Great Tapestry Of Scotland

VARIOUS ARTISTS - The Music And Song Of The Great Tapestry Of Scotland
Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX372D

When it comes to creative compiling of CDs, no one does it better than Greentrax. They have developed an approach which can take a theme, explore it thoroughly and then interpret it musically with an approach that embraces the obvious and essential, incorporates the obscure and leaves room for occasional surprises, some of which are courageously light-hearted.

For this new two CD set, the label has taken its inspiration from the Great Tapestry of Scotland, interpreting 40 of the 163 panels through well chosen songs. It would be easy for any label to explore its back catalogue and put something together on a theme. Of course, there is a good helping of Greentrax material here (that makes simple economic sense) but also tracks from an impressive array of other labels (EMI, Topic and Chrysalis among them) and new recordings made especially for the set. The substantial CD booklet links each song to its related panel of the Tapestry, some of which are reproduced.

That brings us to the music, which features a who’s who of Scottish folk (from Robin Hall & Jimmy McGregor to The Proclaimers via Dick Gaughan, Robin Laing, Hamish Imlach and more). However, it’s not just folk music: the first Edinburgh Festival, for example, is commemorated with a recording of The Scottish National Orchestra playing Fingal’s Cave.

Arranged chronologically, it is the most enjoyable kind of musical history lesson: we start in Neolithic times at the Ring of Brodgar and end our journey, 40 tracks on, with the new map of Scotland and its surrounding seas. Some tracks are history in themselves, whether they be would-be World Cup glory or a moving live performance for the opening session of the reconvened Scottish Parliament.

It takes a lot to make a good compilation album – a substantial theme, great music and a moving and gripping listening experience. This set delivers all three and more.

Nigel Schofield


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This album was reviewed in Issue 95 of The Living Tradition magazine.