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IAIN MacKINTOSH - "Gentle Persuasion" Greentrax CDTRAX014

Dear Greentrax Problem Page: I've had my cassette copy of Iain MacKintosh's "Gentle Persuasion" album for so long that it's stretched beyond audible recognition. As if that wasn't bad enough, my LP copy's been scratched more often than a greyhound with three legs. How can I get through the long Spring days without hearing it again and again? Signed, Withdrawn Listener.

Dear Withdrawn Listener: buy yourself the New Improved Compact Disc!

The original album was released in 1988 and while by his own infrequent recording standards there's been something of a glut of MacKintoshia hitting the shops lately with "Risks and Roses" and his excellent joint album with Brian McNeill "Stage By Stage", this is a very welcome addition.

Mr McNeill features on this one, too, providing guitar, fiddle, cittern, concertina and backing vocals while fellow-Battlefielder-at-that-time Alan Reid supplies keyboards, synth and backing vocals, all done in a very tasteful manner that doesn't distract from the singer or the song.

To me, Iain MacKintosh is at his best in a live situation but there can be no criticism of this studio recording. He's a natural communicator and the songs he chooses are designed to make you listen, to sing along perhaps, but then to think.

And there are some beauties here. Topics highlighted include the touring insecurities he still feels as a lone folksinger in Tomorrow, You're Gone - I seem to recall him describing his fear of sailing as being "ship-scared"; Steve Goodman's My Old Man which puts down on paper what we wish we'd said at the time; Phil Och's finger- pointer When I'm Gone and Enoch Kent's ever- topical The Farm Auction.

You won't find any flashy production techniques on this album. What you will find is the man doing what the man does best: delivering some special songs in his own special way.

If it isn't in your collection already, now's the time to buy it because you'll probably have to wait another ten years for "Gentle Persuasion - The Director's Cut". Besides, you'll enjoy it.

Alan Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 21 of The Living Tradition magazine.