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Old Blind Dogs- "Fit?" - Green Linnet GLCD1214

There's always a feeling of excitement when a new CD by the Old Blind Dogs comes out, because the one thing that has been constant over the years and over the changes in line-up has been the quality of music produced. Does this latest release merit such anticipation? You bet it does!

With the current membership of Rory Campbell, Jonny Hardie, Paul Jennings, Buzzby McMillan and Jim Malcolm, OBD fairly sparkle with talent, which here combines to give us a collection of six songs and six instrumental sets. At first the song list seems a path well-travelled, with the inclusion of "Is There For Honest Poverty", "Reres Hill" and "Tramps and Hawkers" for example, but nobody travels that path quite like Jim Malcolm. Jim's voice seems to become more suited to his material every time he gets up to sing (or indeed every time you re-listen to any track). This is the voice of a singer who is at the same time relaxed and comfortable with his material and also concerned enough about the message of the song to convey every nuance of feeling. Just to stop Jim becoming complacent, however, there's a splendid a cappella version of the North-east anthem "Tatties And Herrin" to finish off the CD, where Jonny and Buzzby lead, allowing Jim and Rory to provide backing vocals.

The instrumental tracks fairly blister along as well, with verve and energy oozing everywhere in arrangements that mix traditional and contemporary tunes with ease. Just try listening to the "Much Better Now / Bear Dance / Alex MacDonald / An Gun's T-apron" set to get an idea of just how to combine a range of instruments so that no single one of them predominates, with the whole becoming much greater than the parts.

So, whereas the standard answer to the question "Fit like 'Fit?'?" would be "Nae bad", my personal answer would need to be "Best yet".

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 44 of The Living Tradition magazine.