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KEN CAMPBELL "Hand Pict" Silkie Music SILKCD001

Ken Campbell's track record as a singer, writer and instrumentalist goes back over 15 years, beginning with Glasgow band Molendinar and taking in spells with Chris Miller, the Ideal Band and Hamish Moore before concentrating on a solo career.

On this first release on his own label based on the shores of Loch Lomond - he is joined by cellist Wendy Weatherby, the ubiquitous Steve Lawrence on cittern and bouzouki, pipers Hamish Moore and Chris Miller and Alasdair Robertson on keyboards.

Campbell contributes guitars and keyboards but it is his rich, deep voice which makes this recording a bit special. He's always had a reputation for being able to spot a good song and of the 12 on display here he's travelled from Gordon Bok-land in Maine to pre-Raphaelite poetry, by way of Burns and Donegal, with day excursions to lesser-known writers such as Terry Hiscock and Judee Sill.

He's no mean writer himself, adding a couple of his own songs for good measure. To me, however, the standout tracks are the trad arr Campbell ones where he gets to grips with a marvellously-doomy Garton Mother's Lullaby and a grand version of Geordie, recorded here with the Ideal Band in 1986.

There's only one song that doesn't work for me and that's Mick Marra's bittersweet song Mincing wi' Charlie; not because of Ken's treatment there's an excellent guitar but because no one can present it like the Neruda of Newtyle.

This debatable point aside, it s a fine, well-produced and excellently-presented album over which a lot of care has been taken and makes very pleasant listening indeed.

Alan Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 24 of The Living Tradition magazine.