Link to Living Tradition Homepage





CEOLBEG - Collected

CEOLBEG - Collected
Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX374

Six albums and several line-ups, spanning late seventies cittern-strumming to 21st-century swing, Ceolbeg's influence on Scottish folk music was enormous. A mixture of part-time and full-time musicians, they never quite hit the big time - but some of the biggest names in Scottish music passed through this seminal band. Singers Davy Steele and Rod Paterson are perhaps better known for their appearances with Battlefield and The Easy Club respectively. Harpist Wendy Stewart and piper Gary West continue to perform together, two of their generation's finest traditional players. One of the hallmarks of Ceolbeg was the rock-solid but flexible back line with some of the finest accompanists in the business: Andy Thorburn, Jim Walker, Colin Matheson and others. When Gary left to join the legendary Clan Alba, Ceolbeg poached none other than bearded LA-boy Mike Katz from Battlefield Band! The unsung - and mostly unsinging - architect of Ceolbeg's success was perhaps Peter Boond, founder and fluter, whose death in early 2013 provided the final impetus for this compilation release: he'd be justly proud of that, I hope.

Compilations are always difficult. Where is The Clumsy Lover Set? Why wasn't Stand Together included, a worthy contender for the Scottish national anthem? More importantly, how could they miss My Lass Has A Lovely Red Schleppack? But all credit to Greentrax for choosing a truly representative sample, across all six albums, and for filling the full capacity of a single CD. Scottish dance tunes, sad laments, songs in all the genres from Davy and Rod's extensive repertoires and a fair number of Ceolbeg classics are included here. The great Gordon Duncan compositions Zito The Bubbleman and The Sleeping Tune make a meaty middle section. Favourite vocal numbers include Farewell To The Haven and Johnnie Cope from Davy, The Gaberlunzie Man and Willie Wastle from Rod. Wendy's concertina cops its Cajun whack on Davy's great Prestonpans Sauters ballad. There's a reminder of the wonderful Galician medleys with Cantabrian Jig, and a precursor to the Red Hot Chilli Pipers in the Gerry Rafferty song To Each And Every One Of You. No Ceolbeg performance would be complete without their signature tune, so this collection ends fittingly with The Return Of The Bunny. A joyous carnival-style finale, but also a sad moment: with Davy and Peter tragically departed, and many of the remaining stalwarts queuing up for their bus passes and Zimmer frames, this may be the last outing for Peter, Wendy and the lost boys of Ceolbeg - so get your hooks into them while you can!

Alex Monaghan


Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 96 of The Living Tradition magazine.