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SHOOGLENIFTY - Acid Croft Vol 9 

SHOOGLENIFTY - Acid Croft Vol 9 
Shoogle Music SHOOGLE20120  

The first release since the loss of Angus R Grant, and Shooglenifty has bounced back from tragedy with a determination to keep doing what they did best. Acid Croft Vol 9 is loaded with references to the towering tousle-haired fiddler, but this is not a backward looking album: new compositions, new members, and a new sound picking up where the previous line-up left off, etching its character into the highland tradition but also drawing on that tradition to underpin a music which is relevant to the culture of contemporary Scotland.

The artwork on Acid Croft Vol 9 does incorporate many elements from Shooglenifty's extensive back catalogue - Venus, tweed, arms, and even a heavily modified trout - but with the exception of a few yards of tartan all the material here is new. Studio album number nine boasts no fewer than six compositions by burlesque fiddle diva Eilidh Shaw - she of Harem Scarem, The Poozies and several other glitzy outfits. Eilidh has done a magnificent job of filling the huge creative gap left by Angus, and while it's almost inevitable that the Shoogles will take a slightly different direction now, her writing, together with pieces by Ewan MacPherson and Malcolm Crosbie, is very much in line with the West Highland musical mayhem for which this band is justly famous.

The instrumentals here range from the gentle Euphoricishness to the appropriately driven Brutus The Husky. Trademark mandolin riffs and frenzied fiddling, cool rhythms and catchy hooks run right to the final Tom & Lisa's. Musical jokes abound, including the wonderful Silence Of The Trams, one of Angus R Grant's last compositions. Many tracks also include vocals, mainly from Kaela Rowan: the traditional Till An Crodh Laochain and An Raobh Thù 'sa Bheinn, the more modern Air Allaban and Hunting For Angus with words by Kaela, and a few contributions from guest poets whose words paint pictures of a changing Scotland. The whole package - sleeve, notes, music and lyrics - is stunningly beautiful. There's also a photo of the new line-up, so you can recognise them when they finally get back on stage.

Alex Monaghan


This review appeared in Issue 136 of The Living Tradition magazine