Old Blind Dogs

Old Blind Dogs - Play Live
Green Linnet GLCD1231

Long on quantity and long on quality, Scotland 's favourite live act of 2004 runs through an impressive set from their last three studio albums. There's a nod to the early days of Iain Benzie and Davy Cattenach with ‘The Battle of Harlaw’, but after this opening big ballad it's non-stop newer material fronted by Jim Malcolm and Rory Campbell. The Dogs settle quickly into their customary gutsy groove somewhere between blues and birl, and they stay there pretty much for the next hour. You could winge about the lack of variety, the same 5-piece sound track after track, the reliance on fancy percussion to lift the tunes, or even the slightly cheesy choice of chunes, but that would be to ignore the fact that this CD contains an hour of solid, engaging music whose warm and intimate delivery is easy to appreciate.

There's a bit of everything here. Breton and Galician tunes played on a variety of pipes and flutes, Scottish piping classics such as ‘Lochanside’ and ‘A Man's A Man’, new songs from Jim and old songs from the tradition, new tunes from Gavin Marwick and other young composers, and old favourites like ‘The Battle of Waterloo’ or ‘Kincardine Lads’ which will delight OBD's loyal followers. It's hard not to be touched by the powerful vocals of ‘The Wisest Fool’ or the musical brilliance of ‘ Sky City ’. Even the packaging is appealing, chaotic images over a careful listing of tunes and full lyrics for all tracks. No surprises, but no disappointments either: it does exactly what it says on the box.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 64 of The Living Tradition magazine.