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BATTLEFIELD BAND "Rain, Hail or Shine" Temple Records COMD2074

"Rain, Hail or Shine" could hardly be a more apt title for this new album. They seem to have survived numerous line-up changes, and as one of the best established acts of the last twenty-five years, constantly appeal to a new audience. This album is probably Battlefield Band's most eagerly awaited new release and heralds a new era for the group, as they are joined for the first time by Davy Steele on vocals and guitar.

All the great Battlefield Band trademarks are here in force, Alan Reid's distinctive keyboard playing, well chosen pipe tunes (General MacDonald is my favourite), and of course John McCusker's sharp fiddle playing is a joy throughout. So what's new? Well Battlefield Band have always been one of the finest live acts on the circuit, delighting audiences world-wide, but when it comes to studio work I think they've often found it difficult transferring the live energy into the recording process, however it's here in bundles. Davy's guitar, and bouzouki forge through the sound injecting excitement and tension at every turn, also this is Robin Morton's best production to date. It's nice to see that Davy's arrival in the group hasn't watered down the strong political messages that Battlefield Band perennially support. "Heave Ya Ho" is a fine song learned from a Firth of Forth oyster fisherman, to single out another couple of highlights, the slow air "Margaret Ann", and the "Lass of Glencoe" make this an enduring recording. Almost certainly the highlight of "Rain, Hail or Shine" has to be the "Magherloonie" set, incorporating the song "Northland Wind" weighing in at a hefty nine and a half minutes.

Battlefield Band have always been Great pioneers of new technology, for example they were one of the first groups to feature synthesizers, and drum machines in their music. "Rain, Hail or Shine" is no different as it contains an interactive CD ROM, which includes a video, plus photos and interviews of the band. An excellent album which I'm sure will stand the test of time.

Keith Witham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 28 of The Living Tradition magazine.