Various Artists - Highland Games

Various Artists - Highland Games
Macmeanmna SKYECD31

No contest: for pure piping power and panache there's only a handful of people who can touch Finlay MacDonald, and they're mostly busy teaching in Edinburgh or emptying bins in Pitlochry. Simon McKerrell and Chris Gibb are in this handful, but Simon teaches in Glasgow and as far as I know Chris has nothing to do with Pitlochry's refuse collections. Together, Finlay, Simon and Chris are the largest concentration of young piping talent you're likely to find this side of Hogmanay. They're joined by some talented and innovative backing musicians to produce scintillating arrangements.

The lads have put together a great set of traditional but rarely-heard tunes. The marches ‘Cockney Jocks’ (a little sedate here) and ‘Arthur Bignold’ are both favourites of mine, from pipe band days and Ceolbeg concerts. ‘The Famous Bridge ’ is one of a kind, a top-notch tune which fell from grace about the same time as Skye joined the mainland. Reels like ‘Kalabakan’ and are incontrovertible proof that music improves with age, and the hornpipe ‘Lucy Cassidy’ is a giant of a tune which fully deserves a track to itself. ‘Greenwoodside’ and ‘Mrs MacPherson’ are more personal favourites, and the oft neglected retreat marches are gallantly represented by ‘Lochanside’ and ‘The Battle of the Somme ’. ‘Hector the Hero’ is an outright winner, rivalling Wolfstone's classic version. In short, Finlay and friends have taken the best of the old piping repertoire and set fire to its tail: great fun for all concerned, spectacular entertainment, and a fiery new lease of life for some of the best tunes ever written.

Alex Monaghan

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 64 of The Living Tradition magazine.