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JAMES SCOTT SKINNER "The Strathspey King" Temple Records COMD2084

I have always been enthusiastic about reissues. Many recordings of historical importance and much great music would be lost to all but the fortunate few without them.

The Strathspey King is in fact a reissue of a reissue. The original recordings from the collection of Mr. John Junner were reissued by Topic on L.P. in 1970s. Remastered from the Topic record master these recordings now sound clean and sharp, almost new, only the tone gives any idea of their age, the originals were almost certainly recorded using a '' Stroh '' fiddle which used a metal horn and sound box to produce the volume necessary for recording at the time. To emphasise how successful the reprocessing has been Temple have repeated track twenty one in an unprocessed condition, the difference is startling.

There is little new I can say about Skinner or his reputation as a player, composer or arranger. He is considered by most to be the epitome of the classic style Scottish fiddler. To be honest not all the music on the CD is uniformally great, but there are some brilliant, classic performances here and all tracks will reward the listener. Many of Skinner's compositions and arrangements have been recorded by most traditional fiddlers, past and present and from many different traditions. So I am sure that you will know what to expect, with some surprises, even if you have never heard an original Skinner performance before, be prepared for his amazing skill and awesome virtuosity. Space does not allow for a track by track review, this would in any case duplicate the excellent booklet that accompanies the CD. The information on the man and his music provided by Alastair Hardie and Bruce MacGregor is an excellent starting point for further research.

The Strathspey King is all that a reissue should be, important music with improved sound, informative illustrated notes and a generous twenty two tracks all beautifully presented. This is a superb and important release, please buy it, who knows what gems could be reissued next if enough interest is shown in this one. Brilliant.

Danny Saunders

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This album was reviewed in Issue 50 of The Living Tradition magazine.