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VARIOUS ARTISTS Music and Song from Scotland: The Greentrax 25th Anniversary Collection

VARIOUS ARTISTS The Greentrax 25th Anniversary Collection
Greentrax CDTRAX8611

Last October “Scotland’s Favourite Record Company” celebrated its Silver Anniversary with a grand concert in Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall and here in collaboration with the Culburnie label is a double album with lavish liner notes and booklet.  Ian Green’s Greentrax imprint is synonymous with quality and élan and he’s personally selected the 27 cuts, (2 bonuses included), for this special landmark release, though at pains to point out it’s not a “Best Of...” or “Now That’s What I Call Greentrax!” With a figure of approaching 500 releases to choose from, it can’t have been a breeze to pick such a modest number to reflect an overview of the brand’s landscape over the years.

With this abundance of material, suffice to say that the whole is a heady mosaic of multi-instrumental virtuosity, expressive vocals and a nice mix of the Scots tradition (Jimmy McBeath – hurrah!) with some own-writes and modern covers. There isn’t a track here that is less than overflowing with passion, freshness or swagger – sometimes all of these at the same time!
Whether it’s sweeping fiddles, synth textures mixed with acoustic strumming, highland pipes, or surging choruses, “eclectic” is the only the word fit for purpose. It would surely be invidious to single out any particular items from the panoply of artistry arrayed here, and that’s no cop-out but suffice to say that any release where Barbara Dickson can share equal billing with Gordon Duncan, or Margaret Stewart can snuggle up to Sandy Bell’s Bar Chorus is to be applauded.
A fine testament to the foresight and sheer hard work of Ian Green, (not forgetting his small team) without whom I’d venture, the profile of Scots music would not have the prominence it enjoys today. This is truly a really “ought-to-get” release.

Clive Pownceby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 91 of The Living Tradition magazine.