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ADAM McNAUGHTAN "The Words I Used to Know" Greentrax CDTRAX 195D

Priceless material from Scotland's finest folk wordsmith - this is actually the 1975 'the Glasgow That I Used To Know' and the 1988 'Words, Words, Words' albums. It includes some examples of Adam McNaughtan as an interpreter of others' songs - such as Sam Barnard's "Nursing Fathers", traditional songs like "A Wee Drappie O't" and a selection of children's songs. Adam's direct, in-your-face style and impeccably clear Scots diction carry the serious, the sad and the downright silly equally well.

However - it's the McNaughtan originals that shine like the classic beacons that they are. "Yellow on the Broom" - his homage to Betsy White and the travellers as described in her peerless book of the same name is a stunner, has become a club standard and has lost none of its impact and power. The much-abused "Jeely Piece Song" is still a very clever piece of writing. "The Lion and the Glove" is as funny as ever it was, an object-lesson in over-the-top wordiness ("It happened, it befell, nay it came to pass.. that baith o' them fell in love wi' one lass"). McNaughtan's use of language can make you laugh even when there isn't a real joke in the line.

Finally, "Oor Hamlet" has never been bettered as one of the cleverest pieces of comic writing anywhere - distilling Willie Shakespeare's Danish tragedy into 3 minutes and 9 seconds of deadly-accurate hilarity. "Hamlet, Hamlet, hesitatin' - wonders if the ghost's a cheat and that is why he's waitin'", "Hamlet's mammy drank the wine, and as her face turned blue, Hamlet said 'I quite believe the King's a baddie noo'". They don't write lines like that any more. Well, Adam McNaughtan does, but that's another story. Buy this. Every Scots home should have one - this is part of our national culture.

Alan Murray

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This album was reviewed in Issue 39 of The Living Tradition magazine.