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MALINKY - Handsel 

MALINKY - Handsel 
Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX402 

A bumper two-hour, two-CD, set celebrating 20 years of this great song-orientated Scots group. It’s super stuff. The background to the band and to this release were covered extensively in LT129, so here are just a few comments on the material.

The Child Ballads and the Greig-Duncan Collection are referenced frequently in the informative notes - the proportion of traditional song included is very high. Thorough research has brought forth very strong ballad content, such as The Baron O’ Brackley, while lighter numbers such as True Lover John (sung here by the timeless Len Graham, one of six guest singers) also feature. There is some mixing of different text sources and rearranging of melody, but this is a band with a great respect for the tradition. One original composition, Steve Byrne’s The Lads Of The Lindsay, a true tale of a lifeboat disaster, is also worthy of mention.

CD1 is extremely good; by the band’s own admission, CD2 is more of a mixed bag. It combines ‘authorised live bootleg’ and demo material, alongside highlights from early albums, such as Billy Taylor from 2002’s Three Ravens. One selling point of CD2 will be its appeal to Karine Polwart completists: Malinky’s original lead vocalist has a number of contributions on this second disc.

I’d consider it somewhat scandalous if Handsel fails to feature prominently in best of 2019 lists. I hope it sells very well too; over to you, readers!

Paul Mansfield


This review appeared in Issue 130 of The Living Tradition magazine