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DOUGIE MacLEAN "Riof" Dunkeld Records DUNCD021

"Still crazy after all those years" is the phrase that came to mind when I started listening to this; whether that phrase applies to Dougie MacLean or to myself I leave up to the reader.

This is a man who sells out concert halls, other artistes pay him fulsome tributes and rush to record his songs and if TV documentary makers feel they want to say something about Scotland they invariably include him. My reaction, after all these years is still "Why?" but then I don't have to think much about it till the "Living Tradition" decides to mail me his latest product. I just never got round to reviewing the last one but here goes with RIOF.

According to the accompanying blurb "The CD is a wonderful mix of new songs composed by Dougie MacLean and also features two hauntingly beautiful instrumentals also composed by MacLean". Depending where you stand you'll either jump up and down and say "great, more of the usual high standard" or simply "more" and return to mucking out the ferrets cage or whatever you are doing.

There are ten tracks ranging over a variety of topics. The instrumental "Fragments from a Mugs Game" is probably the high point, the plodding country-ish "Feel So Near" in its awful cloyingness easily being the lowest. In between are a range of others which you will either view as small but beautiful gems all too rarely encountered in a brutish world, or alternatively a load of cod new age mysticism, only relieved by sticking your fingers down your throat.

You don't have to be a candidate for "Mastermind" to figure out which side of the divide I stand on, but then who ever paid good money to listen to a critic? This review won't affect peoples purchasing intentions one whit (rightly) and it'll sell loads ... but then so does Julia Iglesias. Ah well, back to the ferrets.

Hector Christie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 25 of The Living Tradition magazine.