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THE TANNAHILL WEAVERS "Leaving St Kilda" Green Linnet GLCD1176

This is the Tannahill Weavers' dozenth album or so, and they stick pretty much to their tried and trusted formula of traditional Scottish songs and rattling good tunes. Their last album, "Capernaum", won one or two major international prizes, and this one looks set to equal that. There's been a change of piper this year, with Kenny Forsyth being replaced by Duncan Nicholson, and the pipes have a stronger presence on "Leaving St Kilda" than on "Capernaum": I don't know if that will affect international prizes, but I like it.

There are eight songs on this album. Three are from the Jacobite cause, two are by Robert Burns, two are traditional ballads, one is by 19th-century poet William Motherwell and one is a new composition from The Tannies' own Roy Gullane. That makes nine - I counted "Hieland Harry" twice because it's so good! The arrangements of all the songs are excellent, especially the way the pipes are brought in for harmonies and instrumental breaks. All the song tracks have a recognisable Tannahill Weavers stamp which gives a fresh feel to the traditional material and produces a coherent whole.

The four instrumental tracks include tunes from almost every great pipe composer, with the notable exception of G.S. MacLennan. There are only two modern compositions, both great tunes: "The Whistlebinkies Reel" by Rab Wallace, and "Cran Tara" by Allan MacDonald. Duncan Nicholson's lively piping is featured strongly, but there's surprisingly little of John Martin's fiddling to be heard.

This is an album with a beginning, a middle and an end. The opening set is a biggie, with six reels (four Scots, two Irish) including a Christmas number. After this striking start, we are treated to forty odd minutes of varied songs and tunes including the brilliant "Hieland Harry" track, nice arrangements of "The Shearing's No' for You" and "The Athol Gathering", and the truly beautiful title track which opens with one of the best examples of a slow air you're likely to hear on the pipes. The recording finishes with Roy Gullane's song "Fareweel You Silver Darlin's" which takes a new angle on a recurrent Scottish theme and sets it to a catchy tune.

So, another good one from The Tannies and Green Linnet. "Leaving St Kilda" weighs in at twelve tracks and almost fifty-two minutes, that's one track a month or one minute a week for the whole of 1997!

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 19 of The Living Tradition magazine.