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IAIN MacKINTOSH & BRIAN McNEILL - "Stage By Stage"
Greentrax CDTRAX101

Time to bury a few myths here and to reject a few snide descriptions. MacKintosh and McNeill? The Sunshine Boys on disc? The Nearsight Saga-Tour? This album brought to you by the makers of Wincarnis? Don't believe a word of it. This is the joint voice of maturity avenging the dear departed spirit of adolescence.

Still with me? Good. In other words, this is an excellent album distilled from the collected experiences of two of Scotland's best-known musical missionaries, an album reflecting their long years together and apart on the road. Iain MacKintosh has been long renowned for his ability to spot a good song and to deliver it in a way that somehow suits his own style yet suits the song as well. Brian McNeill is very much a one-off, combining very real songwriting talents with an ability to play just about any musical instrument ever imagined.

Consequently this album is a delightful mixture of styles, ranging vocally from an Appalachian version of a Muckle Sang, through Matt Armour's "Generations of Change" to Si Kahn's classic "What You Do With What You've Got" and among the new songs is "Traveller's Moon" from Brian which works very well topped and tailed by Stephen Foster's "Beautiful Dreamer".

Instrumentally there are standout versions of trad and trad-sounding dance tunes and a lovely coupling of one of Brian's own tunes - the name of which would take up more space than the rest of this review - and Abe Holzmann's "Smokey Mokes".

Okay, these guys have been on the road longer than Tar Macadam but this is the sort of album that could only be made by experienced professionals. It's well-crafted, well-recorded, well-played, well-sung and ... well ... brilliant.

Thoroughly recommended. In the words of an ethnomusicologist from the plasticine age: Oi'll give it foive and Oi'll boy it. That good, huh? That good.

Alan Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 19 of The Living Tradition magazine.