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HAMISH MOORE & DICK LEE - "Farewell To Decorum" Greentrax CDTRAX063

I first heard Hamish Moore and Dick Lee - live - at Beverley Folk Festival in 1992, and on the strength of that performance went straight out and bought both Open-Ended and Cauld Wind Pipes. There were/are not many recordings devoted to Border pipes, we were trying to expand our knowledge of the instrument and its relatives, and the records soon became two of the most played in the household.

I find reviewing a C.D. which includes in its dedications 'musical hooliganism' (and is almost worth the price for those dedications alone!) extremely difficult, particularly as this music's obvious function is to defy attempts at categorisation.

'Farewell to Decorum' and the earlier recording 'Bees Knees' are a considerable development from Hamish Moore's first two albums. Those who have heard and liked 'Bees Knees' should need no encouragement to purchase the new C.D., containing as it does jazz excursions based on traditional tunes and new compositions with at times an almost classical feel. I would also recommend this unreservedly to fans of saxophones, to pipers wishing to expand their consciousness (do we need to?), and arts festival goers who find traditional music intriguing but tame.

I am less certain what the average British folk festival goer, if there is such an individual, will make of it - particularly tracks like Resolution No 9, for instance, which the family decided was 'Andy Shepherd meets a drunken (but very competent) piper in a busy lorry park already orchestrated by Olivier Messiaen'. Unfortunately it fades just as it starts to get intelligible.

My personal favourite tracks were 'Farewell to Nigg', and 'Ye Banks and Braes', which I suppose displays my unadventurous traditionalist nature, though I have considerable empathy with the tune in the middle of 'The Monster', - which is definitely a Chinese dragon from the left side of the Spey with Malts on his Optics! My saxophone playing daughter spotted the connection between 'Bees Knees' and 'Cats Pyjamas', which I must admit went about two feet wide of my left ear.

As a final high spot I must mention the carnyx, - a reconstructed six foot high instrument played as a call to battle by the Celts (or was it Picts?) and which must have scared the s--t out of the Romans as it came out of the mist, mire, moor, and of course midges. I wanted to know what it sounded like - I wonder if it would work on modern day politicians?

Maybe we should all buy one and try it. Certainly we should all listen to 'Farewell to Decorum', and most of us should buy that.

Julia Say

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This album was reviewed in Issue 2 of The Living Tradition magazine.