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BRIAN McNEILL - "No Gods" - Greentrax CDTRAX098

A solo album from Brian? Well, if you count an album with ten backing musicians as a solo album then this is the solo album with the most. It is Brian McNeill through and through showcasing his talents as musician, singer, writer, arranger, producer, recording engineer and more. This is the McNeill supergroup, probably never to be seen on stage, but supergroup none the less.

The complete spectrum of Brian's songwriting is revealed from the political "Any Mick'll Do", the historical "Montrose" the personal "Trains and my Grandfather" (for me one of the highlights of the album) to the social comment of "Steady As She Goes". Add to this a clutch of new tunes from Brian. The "theme" of the album is heroes, with a few villains thrown in for good measure. (Read the sleeve notes for an insight into Brian's definition of heroes).

The title track is given an uptempo treatment which I personally feel detracts a little from the power of the song. Brian is not quite convincing as Mr Angry, but the uptempo numbers provide a variation and contrast that ultimately makes the album such a satisfying performance. For me the jewel in the setting has to be the song "Trains and by Grandfather", a personal song yet one which many will be able to empathise with the emotions superimposing their own story.

The piano accompaniment from Gary Coupland is the only support to Brian's voice on this track and it works beautifully.

Ian Green gave Brian complete freedom in making the album and his faith has paid dividends. The musicians sound as if they were having a ball in the studio. This is a mature album from a master musician and a great writer revealing yet more of the depth of the McNeill talent.

The broadening of the writing suggests that there is more to come and that we can look forward to a future McNeill epic, in the meantime this one will give plenty of pleasure.

John Muirhead

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This album was reviewed in Issue 15 of The Living Tradition magazine.