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BORDERS TRADITIONS "Borders Sangsters" Tradition Bearers LTCD4002

Some people on the Scottish folk scene may have mistakenly supposed that apart from Willie Scott, there were no other singers of note in the Borders, although, as one of the first to attend the first Newcastleton Festival, I can also vouch for Willie Beattie and Dick Cowan and others.

The selection of singers on this wide-ranging CD covers a long stretch of time and singers of songs both traditional and contemporary, seven of them from the School of Scottish Studies sound archive. Willie Scott still reigns supreme and it is thrilling to hear him as recorded in his prime in 1953 and 1973, in The Keilder Hunt, The Shepherd's Song and The Whisky's Guid. But there was scarcely a track that did not warm the heart. John Nichol is particularly outstanding for a rombustious Lachie McCraw and Pawkie Paiterson, in which the Borders "mei" is heard, and the songs of James Hogg. Elsa Lemaitre and Pat Douglas singing The Wail of Flodden reawaken the pain of the dark memory of old sorrows and bereaved mothers and wives.

James Wilson's Brundenlaws is an unvarnished account of youthful high jinks in the dark that exploits its full comic potential, that would set the table in a roar at herds' suppers, while Tommy Wilson (no relation) adds a bawdy touch with Whack-fa-Doodle and My Thing-Ma-Jig. Gordon Kelly sings two of the songs of Eric Bogle, who originally came from Peebles. He gives a good account of The Belle of Broughton but introduces an inappropriate jaunty note into They'd No Use for Him, the song Eric wrote about his father being made redundant by the railway he had worked on all his life. Ian Anderson has a pleasant voice that suits Jock o Hazeldean, but completely misses the mark with Jock Geddes and the Sow, done at such a lick (sorry) that the comic effect that it is possible to achieve was thrown away altogether.

Sheila Douglas

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