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SIMON THOUMIRE ORCHESTRA - "Music for a New Scottish Parliament" Tartan Tapes CDTT1007

Oh boy; this is some album to review. For example, take a look at the classification advice to retailers: File under Scotland/Celtic/Contemporary. Hmmm. Then, underneath the title appear the words "Limited Edition" suggesting it might appeal to stamp collectors and rare book dealers.

So what is this strange being? Well, its actually a recording of a BBC Radio Scotland broadcast in front of a studio audience which keeps politely hushed most of the way through before letting rip at the end.

The inspiration for the album comes - as you might expect - from the momentous events culminating in the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament after an interval even longer than the MSPs' holidays. The bold Mr Thoumire, however, has made his starting point just before the 1997 general election with the four musical Acts taking us through the euphoria after the Yes/Yes vote, the official opening and, finally, the parliament in session with a cleverly done section of voices from around the country emphasising that this is indeed a national parliament.

The musicianship is first-rate with the Orchestra featuring such luminaries of the folk and jazz world as Eilidh Shaw, Aidan O'Rourke, Anna Wendy Stevenson, Mike Katz, David Milligan and Phil Bancroft with vocal contributions from Elspeth Cowie and Alyth McCormack.

It isn't easy listening but rewards patience. Hopefully it'll be played and played rather than kept in the archive chest under the bed along with the 1953 Coronation coin set and that piece of turf from Wembley 1967. Full marks to Simon for refusing to accept the norm.

Alan McIntosh Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 35 of The Living Tradition magazine.