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BATTLEFIELD BAND - "Threads" - Temple Records COMD2061

It's amazing how time flies when you're enjoying yourself - or when you're getting older. It's 3 years since Battlefield produced "Quiet Days" and about 5 years that this line up have been together. It's 2 and a half years since the last tour south of the border, and to coincide with this much looked forward to event, they've just released "Threads".

As I write this I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing them in Newtown, Wales - a long way from here in Leicestershire, but that is always the case with the Beeby's attempts to see the Battlefield Band. We've been to Alnwick, Fleetwood and Burnley, to name just a few excursions. Yes it could be said that we're fans. And on the strength of this latest offering, I can't wait to hear the tracks live with, maybe, some of the smooth edges knocked off. For here is a finely polished, well produced (by Robin Morton) album of fairly typical Battlefield material. However, there are some changes in the make-up of the CD. No contemporary material by other songwriters, only 2 songs by Alan Reid, the other songs being well known traditional arranged Battlefield.

Of course there are some excellent tune sets. But first the songs. Of the two by Alan - "The Arran Convict" tells of an emigrant leaving Arran, surprisingly enough, and heading for Canada. He gets into a spot of bother, kills someone, and ends in a hard labour camp. The stuff those American mini series are made of. Imagine Alan as a gangster - but who is long legged Mary? Watch next week's exciting episode ... sorry. Back to the CD. I'm not sure about "Same Old Story" where it's full of words like Caledonia and Alba and I keep feeling that yet it is the same old story and it has been done before many times - but I'm sure it will prove popular live.

On to the trad material. In some ways this is a bold move because songs are often associated over the years with other singers. This is especially true of "McPherson's Lament" but the treatment is sufficiently different from the superb Dick Gaughan version. Alan has added extra words to "Tramps and Hawkers" to make it into a dream sequence - sounds a daft idea but it works well. Now for the tunes. Typically Battlefield that's really all you need to know.

Listen to John McCusker's excellent fiddle playing and see how he is fast becoming one of the leading players. Compare with "New Spring" and see how he has matured over the last 5 years. He's always been good but now he plays with assurance. The album finished with a song from the singing of Nic Jones. "The Indian Lass" is done really well and is a fine end to a fine album. I doubt if it will win many new fans but I'm sure that it will delight the many, myself included, that have been loyal followers for more years that we care to remember. And that is what it is all about. One of the veteran Scottish bands doing what they do best, pleasing their fans.

This album will be a success, that's stating the obvious, but if you've just discovered this type of music through the up and coming bands like Iron Horse, Wolfstone and Rock, Salt and Nails, you really should try this. This album comes highly recommended.

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 13 of The Living Tradition magazine.