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VARIOUS ARTISTS "The Rough Guide to Scottish Folk"
World Music Network RGNET 1038 CD

There are two questions which can crop up when the conversation lulls which are sure to produce extreme differences of opinion. One is of the "what is folk music?" variety and the other is "what would you put on a sampler of Scottish Folk music?" Neither of these can easily be resolved without recourse to drink or fisticuffs or both (at least in some of the circles I frequent - maybe I should get out more!).

No value judgements then as to what should or could be in a CD with a title like this, let's just consider what we get. As expected from the admirable Rough Guide stable, here is 70 minutes of music, alphabetically ranging from Battlefield Band to Wolfstone, and stylistically from Ewan MacColl to John D Burgess.

Traditional, contemporary, solo, duo, supergroups, Gaelic, Scots and English languages, varied approaches, paces and arrangements, they're all in here somewhere. As I suggested, no two people will ever agree exactly on what would make up an ideal sampler, but there's not much here to complain about.

The whole lot is superbly packaged in the recognisable Rough Guide house style, with good biographies of all the artists, and all source discography clearly listed. As the liner notes say, this is an ideal starting point for a deeper exploration of the music by those who are unfamiliar with it, but old hands will also find this a satisfying compilation.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 39 of The Living Tradition magazine.