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BATTLEFIELD BAND - "Across the Borders" - Temple Records COMD2065

The pros and cons of recording a live album are obvious. Sometimes musicians (and punters) will try too hard because of the presence of the dreaded recording engineers and it can be difficult to tell a paying audience that you're going to start again and try to get that wee twiddly bit right. However, if you're as experienced, professional and ... what's the word I'm looking for ... talented as the Battlefield Band, there's no need to lose sleep on that account.

This is an excellent album mixed over three nights at Edinburgh's Queen's Hall during the Festival and if you were lucky enough to catch the band on their recent promotional tour you'll be looking forward to hearing it. And there's a bonus. What makes this recording different from a normal gig is the inclusion of some very special guests.

Alison Kinnaird plays some beautiful Scottish harp on Tuireadh Iain Ruaidh, Californian piper Eric "Braveheart" Rigler joins the band for a couple of tunes, Co. Sligo fluter and whistler Seamus Tansey joins fellow-blower Iain MacDonald for a rollicking medley of The Concert Reel and The Green Mountain, Kate Rusby features on backing vocals and there's even room for country band The Radio Sweethearts to join in on a version of Six Days on the Road with bluegrass bagpipes well to the fore.

There's little in the way of old material on this release. The band have taken this opportunity of recording some of their newer songs and tunes and adding another fine album to the seventeen or so which they've recorded up to now. While I mentioned the pitfalls of live recording earlier, one of its advantages is that the finished work captures the moment for all time and this is a perfect souvenir of a Battlefield Band concert clocking in at some 65 minutes. It's an album which they'll be promoting on their 30-city tour of the USA - taking place as we speak - and it'll be a fine advertisement for one of our leading bands. But just as importantly it will give our Transatlantic cousins a very accurate idea of just where Scotland's music should be heading.

Alan Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 21 of The Living Tradition magazine.