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VARIOUS ARTISTS - "Complete Songs of Robert Burns - Vol 2"
Linn Records CKD051

And the story goes on ... This is the second volume in the series from Linn Records in Eaglesham and it's every bit as absorbing as the opener.

Cast your minds back to the dim and not-so-distant days when a common complaint among record buyers and reviewers was that the only accessible recordings of Burns' works were those made under "art-song" rules with the accompaniment generally limited to a piano or conventional orchestra.

This mould was well and truly broken by the joint efforts of Jean Redpath and Serge Hovey and their trailblazing work - and that of other solo artistes - has led us to the present point.

What you have in this series of recordings is the songs of Burns produced and compiled by Fred Freeman and done in folk style by a collection of singers and instrumentalists among the best in the business.

Vocally there are artistes of the calibre of Rod Paterson, Arthur Johnstone, Tony Cuffe, Gordeanna McCulloch, Alan Reid, Ian Bruce, Janet Russell and Christine Kydd and instrumentally you're unlikely to hear better or more sympathetic playing than that of Billy Jackson, John Martin, John McCusker, Norman Chalmers, Brian Miller etc etc.

It's an album that shows its class all the way through with several highlights and no disappointments. The arrangements generally have a traditional feel about them (though have a listen to Ian Bruce's version of "Scots Wha Hae" for some interesting bodhran technique by Dougie "Let There Be Drums" Pincock) and my only tiny quibble would be that some of the songs are fragments, like Arthur Johnstone's version of "Leezie Lindsay", serving only to whet the appetite for more.

This is a marvellous album and excellent value for money. One black cloud on the horizon, however, is that these recordings must be pretty close to the definitive versions: then what'll we find to complain about?

More power to Linn Records and here's hoping that in time Eaglesham will become just as famous for its successful record releases as for its soor milk cairt.

Alan Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 17 of The Living Tradition magazine.