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Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX391

Eric Bogle, John Munro and Greentrax go together like haggis, neeps and tatties. A perfect match, that together, have brought me some of my happiest listening hours down the years. I salute them for their collaboration these past 27 years. And there is plenty of life in the old Bogle dog yet, for although retiring from foreign tours, it will take being under house arrest to keep him from that favourite Adelaide recording studio with his usual cast of stellar – and musically most gifted - buddies accompanying him.

And as I expected, this is another delight of an album from start to finish. Not a weak number in the 12 served up: and it was especially nice to note several songs from the pens of his associates here. I should adopt Peter Titchener’s witty Farewell Fitness as my personal anthem, and it was good to hear his own pleasant voice deliver it.

But if he has a pleasant voice, John Munro of course has a marvellous one. A kind of Johnny Coppin-meets-Mike Silver voice...but with both those Sassenachs wearing kilts. Oh so sweet. And it is Munro who wrote and sings the two best songs on the album, Voices and The Best Of Times.

The latter incidentally is redolent of They Don’t Write ‘Em Like That Anymore by the late Pete Betts, and no praise is higher. And this new song ends very movingly with John harmonising in 2016 with a (presumably, old reel-to-reel?) recording of his late dad Charlie, which John tells us was “recorded in Glasgow in 1963”. I don’t think so John: a diary check is called for here! For they are harmonising on the Kris Kristofferson song, For The Good Times, which was not written until 1968. But, it matters not: John’s song remains a fine example of the bitter-sweet.

And if that is the best song on the album, then Ballad For Billy by Simon Wilkins is the most moving. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. And I fancy Eric and John’s eyes too...and the guaranteed myriad buyers of this album.

One interesting footnote: I note amongst the musicians listed “Leonard Cohen – Slide Guitar”. I nearly choked on my cornflakes with surprise. Surely, not the great man himself? No, of course not. But it was a great image for the nanosecond it lasted, as it flashed before my eyes!

Dai Woosnam

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This album was reviewed in Issue 116 of The Living Tradition magazine.