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STANLEY ROBERTSON, DUNCAN WILLIAMSON, WILLIAM WILLIAMSON, GABRIELLE IJDO "Traveller's Tales Volume 1 & 2 Songs, Stories and Ballads from Scottish Travellers" KYLOE100 & KYLOE102

The contribution of Scots travellers to our oral culture cannot be overstated. As carriers, creators and re-creators this has been widely acknowledged, documented and demonstrated. These outstanding "field" recordings illustrate this fact to a remarkable degree. They are of the highest technical quality and have a sustained intimacy. All twenty-four tracks have an across-the-table gimmick-free feel which is as close to a live performance as I think possible.

Duncan Williamson and Stanley Robertson are masters of their art and these recordings do them and their material full justice. William, Duncan's son, contributes a distinctive "Dowie Dens of Yarrow" on Vol 1 and Gabrielle, Stanley's daughter, "Young Emslie" on Vol 2. The continuity in style and spirit is transparent. I won't catalogue the delights and surprises of this selection however I can't fail to highlight such jewels as "Hind Horn" and "John Barleycorn" from Duncan or his rationale of the Jack tale, i.e. Jack is no particular person but "is a piece of everyman". Story favourites from Duncan are his riveting "Silkie's Revenge" and his haunting "White Butterfly". The contribution of Stanley is no less impressive ranging from a medley of children's songs and Jack Tales, to an impassioned "Mill o' Tifty's Annie".

I was struck by the natural quality of the singing where the voices come across as a seemingly effortless extension of the spoken word. These CD productions are created by Michael Yeates and he has done us a great service. Mike is a collector and enthusiast with a long and distinguished pedigree. These volumes reflect his sensitivity, good taste, sound judgement and considerable knowledge. His sleeve notes are impeccable and contain useful British and North American cross-references. These fresh and vibrant volumes are ostensibly free-standing, however I see them as complementary, buy them both! This is bedrock material of the highest quality and will I'm sure prove to be a rich source for singer, storyteller and listener.

Finally and most appropriately, Mike has dedicated these volumes to the memory of Hamish Henderson . "peerless champion of the travelling people". Enough said.

Geordie McIntyre

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This album was reviewed in Issue 50 of The Living Tradition magazine.