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KENNY SPEIRS - "Bordersong" - MVBCD1

Remember concept albums? They were usually double LPs in thick pictorial sleeves and were quite often padded out with some pretentious nonsense. Well, Kenny Speirs has released a concept album on his own label - but there, happily, the similarity ends.

Better known as the rhythm section of the John Wright Band, Kenny has assembled some fine musicians to help him illustrate his theme - Scotland's border with its southern neighbour. You'll find some old favourites here, such as 'The Broom o' the Cowdenknowes', 'Jock o' Hazeldean' and 'The Twa Corbies', but there are also modern songs such as Matt McGinn's 'The Rolling Hills o' the Borders' and 'Both Sides The Tweed' from James Hogg and Dick Gaughan - the Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen of the folk world.

Kenny is in fine voice throughout and he is backed up ably by fellow Borders residents Rory Campbell on pipes and whistles, Gavin Dickie on bass, David Little on percussion and Ian Lowthian on accordion but the musical highlight for me is the playing of fiddler Stewart Hardy, heard best on the two excellent instrumental tracks written by Kenny, 'Minto Hill' and 'Leaving Leithenside'.

Recorded in Galashiels, it has Made in the Scottish Borders stamped all over it (metaphorically!) and will be a fine souvenir for visitors as well as good listening in its own right.

Alan McIntosh Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 38 of The Living Tradition magazine.