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Temple Records  COMD2104

A new Battlefield Band CD - a new line up. Throughout their 40ish years existence this is nothing new. In fact I was at their “final” gig in Nantwich many years ago when the At The Front line up split. To say I was gutted was an understatement as it was the first time I had seen them - a true force with sheer power and rawness in their music. I needn’t have worried as they soon reformed, and I have followed them ever since. They must be the band that I have seen the most live, and I have all their recorded work. So what is different this time?  Well, for the first time there is no founding member in the Line-Up!

Alan Reid has been replaced by Ewen Henderson of the well-known Henderson family. He has added another fiddle, keyboards, and whistle and is also a piper and Gaelic singer. The rest - Mike Katz, Sean O’Donnell and Alasdair White - add just about everything else.
Much has been made of their version of Otis Redding’s That’s How Strong My Love Is, but it should be remembered that for many years there were always covers either in their live set or on albums.  It’s OK, but there are better tracks on here. For me the stand out track is Iain Ghlinn’ Cuarich featuring the beautiful fiddle of Alasdair on top of the stunning piano of Ewan. Truly breathtaking.
Not sure how much extra is added to the numerous versions in existence of Westlin Winds or Song Composed In August as it is called here. Perhaps this should have been left for their live set. I do like the use of two fiddles and twin pipes on some tracks, whilst the potential for some great Gaelic songs is also here.
I suppose the sentiments of what this CD is about is in Lovers And Friends, which talks about taking note and learning from the past, whilst looking forward to the future. It talks of, “Filling up your glass to the future and past in harmony”, which is what us fans have to do with the new line up.

It seems strange to mention the word potential when talking about a group that is an institution, but that is what the change of personnel allows. This CD is not the finished article and I am sure the second by this Battlefield Band will be much stronger - the signs are there. But this one will do well.  Above all it is still Forward With Scotland’s Past.

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 90 of The Living Tradition magazine.