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THE KNOWE O'DEIL - Celebration 

THE KNOWE O'DEIL - Celebration 
Orcadian Recordings ORCCD024 

I wasn't familiar with Knowe O'Deil, but I do enjoy Orcadian music. Even so, this came as a surprise - this group recorded between 1978 and 1988, their repertoire was largely song-based, and their backbone was the redoubtable Ivan Drever. This 70 minute, 21 track compilation is drawn from the four LPs they made back then, and while many of the songs are definitely not Orcadian in origin, they're none the worse for that and are sung and accompanied in a largely Orkney style. 

The band's personnel changed over the years, and I enjoyed the clarity of Carolyn Allan's singing on various numbers. Other jewels included the lighter Woo'd An' Married An' A' and a memorable Selkie O' Suleskerry, also an interestingly constructed When The Night Waves Boom. Many of the songs create their atmosphere by means of what, today, might be considered a very minimalistic approach to accompaniment - less is so often more. By contrast, the instrumental pieces show all the skill, accuracy and drive that make feet and fingers tap.

We often tend to think that our music and the parameters that define it don't change much over the years, but of course they do. This band's music has stood the test of time well. In many ways I was reminded of Dinny McLaughlin's Derry band, Aileach, and its music - both bands were very influential, and there are similarities in their approach, and both are still well worth listening to again now.

John Waltham


This review appeared in Issue 141 of The Living Tradition magazine