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BATTLEFIELD BAND - "Battlefield Band" - Temple Records COMD2055

This is a re-issue of the album originally released on the Topic label in 1977. Simply titled "Battlefield Band" with its predominantly white cover, I referred to it as their "white album" and, like the Beatles' White album, this was, and still is, a classy release.

At this time they had a release out on the French Arfolk label (with three guest pipers whose names and photographs were all transposed on the sleeve), but this was a major album on what was THE folk label of the time. The front cover shows the band grouped around their famous pedal organ (a stripped down harmonium), the line up being Brian McNeill, Alan Reid, Jamie McMenemy and John Gahagan, the principal instruments being fiddle, cittern, whistle, concertina, guitar and harmonium. In the background of the photograph is a thirteen amp socket on the wall with no plug in it. I don't know if this was deliberate, but the album was acoustic.

The album contains the same mix of songs and instrumentals that has been typical of Battlefield over the years. Brian McNeill had not really developed his songwriting at that stage and there were no pipes on this album. The arrangements were simpler than many of the later albums with little in the way of double tracking and this was very much their live sound.

In the 70's, Glasgow and the West of Scotland were certainly producing a lot of talented performers with strands of development which would make an interesting family tree. Jamie McMenemy eventually moved to Brittany and the group KORNOG, spreading the musical web, John Gahagan went on to Kentigern and still pops up in various guises and Brian McNeill and Alan Reid remained at the heart of many great Battlefield lineups, recording over a dozen albums.

This album is definitely one to add to your collection especially if you like acoustic bands. It still sounds as fresh and innovative as ever and could still teach many of today's bands a thing or two.

Pete Heywood

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This album was reviewed in Issue 7 of The Living Tradition magazine.