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WHIRLIGIG "Celtic Dawn" Lochshore CDLDL 1227

As Bo Diddley almost said: You can't judge a CD by looking at the cover. My reaction on receiving this one was to glance at the spectacularly ethereal portrait of the sun reddening the sky over Kilchurn Castle, read the title of "Celtic Dawn" and mutter: Aw naw! Not another one!

We've had Celtic Reflections, Celtic Connections, Planete Celtique, Celtic Circles, Celtic Graces, Celtic Gold and Celtic Legacy; all we need for the set is Celtic Gubbed by Raith. Fortunately, my doubts were misplaced, for this is a fine album that gets better with repeated hearings.

Whirligig were formed in 1994 to take part in the Fringe of the Glasgow International Early Music Festival and consist of twins Fiona and Jennifer Cuthill and Steve Lawrence.

The girls' musical background is classical violin but their love of early music comes from their recorder playing, and if you recoil at a recorder - conjuring up as it does sights and sounds of schooldays past and best forgotten - don't worry, for it blends well with the other instruments.

Steve Lawrence is probably best known for his work with Iron Horse and Cruachan as a guitarist and percussionist but has always had an interest in early music, recognising - according to the sleeve notes - that there is a crossover between early and traditional music. I agree with him; I think it's something to do with time.

This is a strictly instrumental album and while the music is expertly delivered I found a sameness about the tracks on first hearing, but subsequent plays have brought home the differing arrangements of the tunes.

These range from 17th and 18th century Scots airs such as Roslin Castle and "When She Cam Ben She Bobbit" (nothing to do with 20th century USA errant husbands), through to well-known pipe jigs, to new compositions by Eddie McGuire and John Du Prez and Aisleag Ur, a tune written by Fiona Cuthill which she describes as New Age Celtic Early Music.

Top track for me is Miss Lynn Morrison, written by Iron Horseman Rod Paul for his keyboards stable-mate, but there is a lot of pleasant, gentle music in store if you're going for this album.

Alan Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 12 of The Living Tradition magazine.