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VARIOUS ARTISTES "The Portraits and the Music" Temple Records COMD2093

It's never been easier to make a record than at the present time, but how do you sell the product? Well, I'll let you into an open secret; it's all to do with marketing. If you want to see how it's done, take a look at the Country Music compilations in the shops and count how many contain the same old repackaged tracks.

So here's a nice idea, and Edinburgh's record-breaking exhibition of Monet paintings may have been the inspiration for Temple Records boss Robin Morton's latest production. "The Portraits and the Music" is, as the name might suggest, a CD of music and song linked to the paintings and drawings held in The Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

The album features artists of the calibre of Aly Bain, Alison Kinnaird and Flora MacNeil, as well as past and present members of Battlefield Band, and they perform music and songs written by, or inspired by, famous Scots. There's the usual suspects - Bonnie Prince Charlie, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Flora MacDonald and Mary, Queen of Scots - but the musical achievements of fiddle maestros such as Niel Gow, William Marshall and James Scott Skinner are celebrated too. And there's even a track where modern technology allows Skinner himself to play in a trio with the Batties' Alasdair White and Pat Kilbride. The accompanying booklet has comprehensive notes on the musical items by Alison Kinnaird and reproductions of the portraits.

So what next? Perhaps a video of Great Paintings and Cello Music introduced by Sister Wendy (Weatherby) or an informed commentary on Australian Gaelic song by Rolf from Harris? The music can stand by itself, but it's a nice idea and worthy of success.

Alan McIntosh Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 54 of The Living Tradition magazine.