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THE OCCASIONALS "Live" - Greentrax CDTRAX184
THE CULLIVOE BAND WITH WILLIE HUNTER
- "Willie's last Session" - Greentrax CDTRAX186

Quietly The Occasionals are evolving into something of an institution. This their third album was recorded in front of a busy and appreciative Aberdeen Music Hall audience, where our heroes play to their strengths, and never lose control of their vast collective ability. Perhaps for this CD they may have been more accurately called 'The Regulars'.

This CD is not about guest appearances, apart from a cameo by the strangely named Capt. Rudolf Deer R.N. It's about a core sound of the four members Freeland Barbour, Ian Hardie, Kevin MacLeod, and Gus Millar delivering the finest Scottish and Old Time Dance Music.

Standout moments are of course the fine accordion playing, and measured fiddle playing. However its the constant vigour with which these tunes are played which will set toes tapping up and down the land. It has to be said that the only element 'Live' doesn't give you to host your own personal ceilidh, is around 40 adept dancers to complete the scene. I could give you an exhaustive track listing, but I think that casting a quick glance over the line up should be recommendation alone.

From a legendary group in the making, to a legend sadly passed. 'Willie's Last Session' has an added poignancy when it's understood that only 11 days after this recording was made he'd sadly passed away. This makes the excitement of his performance all the more surprising. Willie knew that he was not long for this world, when he requested one last session with the acclaimed Shetland group, The Cullivoe Band. With a full turnout, these old friends guide us through forty-five minutes of pure nostalgia, and play with an almost breathtaking dexterity given the circumstances.

Most touching is Willie's interpretation of his own slow waltz, 'Ivor and Eleanors Wedding', a fitting testament to this fiddle giant.

Generously, Greentrax records are to pass on any royalties from this release to a local organisation involved in cancer research.

Keith Whitham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 36 of The Living Tradition magazine.