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THE TANNAHILL WEAVERS "Capernaum" Green Linnet GLCD1146

The skirl of the Great Highland Bagpipe cutting through flute, guitar, and fiddle announces the arrival of the latest Tannahill Weavers CD, "Capernaum". The opening set assures us that although the Tannahills seem to have been around for ever they can still match, and indeed better, many of the new crop of "pipe driven" bands.

For my money the Tannahills are at their best when they "push the pedal to the metal" and go full steam ahead. Energy and enjoyment radiate from their playing and it never fails to raise my spirits. The tunes may be familiar "The Blackbird", "Loch Carron" and Phil Cunningham's "The Log Splitter" to name a few, but the arrangements are fresh and although the pipes are leading the attack the other instruments don't get swamped in the charge. The real knack in these sets is choosing the right tunes to put together and at this the Tannahills are past masters.

Those familiar with the Tannahills will also know that the Tannahills are sensitive interpreters of traditional songs. This CD has six traditional songs. Roy Gullane's strong earthy voice lends authority to their versions of "The Plooboy Laddies", "The Hieland Sodger", "The Brewer Laddie" and "Captain Ward". The band keep the arrangements simple on these songs letting the quality of the lyrics come through. This approach is exemplified when Roy, Phil Smillie and Les Wilson sing "The Carls O'Dysart" acapella which works very well. Roy stands down from the singing to let Les deliver the Robert Tannahill song "The Braes of Balquidder" and he makes a grand job of it.

The Tannahills have never been afraid to take on new material where it seemed appropriate and on this CD they reverently play the Jez Lowe tale of fisherwives love and concern, "The Bergen". Roy Gullane also proves that he can write songs as well as sing them with the recording's final track, "Hame", a tale of an emigrants love for Scotland. It is sung in broad Scots but the lyrics, as for all the songs, are given in the sleeve notes and an excellent Glossary is provided for the Scots words.

This CD sees the Tannahills confirm their status as one of the most entertaining bands on the scene at the moment, as if that needed confirming. In full flow they invigorate and delight, while they are also capable of subtlety and gentleness when needed. Tannahill fans will need no prompting to buy this, and the rest of you shouldn't hesitate either.

Chris MacKenzie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 9 of The Living Tradition magazine.