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ARCHIE FISHER "The Man With a Rhyme" Folk-Legacy Records Inc CD-61

For a man who's universally associated with the music of Scotland, the recording history of Archie Fisher is curiously patchy. The reasons for this lie outwith the scope of this review but there is cause for celebration with the release of this CD.

A quick glance at the cover portrait and a look at the label, however, confirm that it's a re-release. But we're talking vintage here! "The Man With a Rhyme" first felt the subtle point of a diamond stylus in 1976 and featured 14 tracks of Archie's vocals and guitar with some sympathetic backing from a Transatlantic quintet of Wendy Grossman, Kathy Westra, Lani Herrmann, Ann Mayo Muir and Lorraine Lee, at least a couple of whom will be familiar to UK folk club audiences.

Sailing somewhat against the tide of '76, there are no big production numbers and neither sight nor sound of drums or bass, the only accompaniment coming from the Fisher guitar (an orchestra on its own, at times) and the backing concertina, banjo, dulcimers, cello, fiddle and flute.

The uncluttered arrangements require a fine voice, of course, and The Man is in top form. The songs are mostly Trad arr Fisher with such soon-to-be-standards as "Jock Stewart" and Stuart MacGregor's marvellous "Coshieville".

It's an album no traditional enthusiast (or singer) should be without and congratulations are due to this Connecticut-based label for not only digitally remastering the LP but putting in a bonus track of "Helen of Kirkconnell".

Oh yes, nearly forgot - excellent.

Alan Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 27 of The Living Tradition magazine.