THE TANNAHILL WEAVERS - "Choice Cuts 1987-96" - Green Linnet GLCD1182
A good hour of good music compiled from five good albums can't be bad. Even better, you get three different pipers, two different fiddlers and a couple of other line-up changes. Of the 14 tracks on this compilation, five are from "Capernaum", three from "Leaving St Kilda", and two each from "Dancing Feet", "Cullen Bay" and "The Mermaid's Song". In fact, half of the "Capernaum" album is on this CD because two tracks are combined into one: "The Carls O' Dysart" and "The Log Splitter Set" are two adjacent tracks on the 1994 album but only one on "Choice Cuts".
One can always quibble with the choice of tracks on a compilation, so I will. There's a nice balance of songs and tunes here, but unfortunately the tunes are very heavy on the reels: one or two of the reel sets could have been replaced by the excellent title tracks from "Leaving St Kilda" or "The Mermaid's Song" for a bit more variety. Personally, I'd ditch the opening track - pipes and fiddle playing a strathspey at the same time are always problematic. Also the other 2-into-1 track, combining "Joy of My Heart" with "Kintail", doesn't work well: Iain MacInnes' Small Pipes are excellent on both tracks, but they just don't go together. These are minor criticisms, though, and otherwise the album is very well put together.
The standard of musicianship and recording here is excellent, as you'd expect. There are some superb tracks, including favourites like "Are Ye Sleeping, Maggie" and the "Capernaum" song, and the three tracks from "Leaving St Kilda" are all brilliant. What's more, it's 90% traditional and acoustic. I could go on about the other tracks, all classic Tannies material, but I won't. The final track, a parting song from Roy Gullane, deserves a mention as a particularly nice touch. All in all, a masterly distillation. Alex Monaghan
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