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VARIOUS ARTISTS "The Bothy Songs and Ballads of North East Scotland Volume One" Sleepytown Records SLPYCD001

By the end of the eighteenth century, farming systems and practices had been developed to the point where agriculture came to be regarded as another Victorian industrial triumph. In Scotland the bothy-house system had long been the established and traditional way of boarding the men and boys fee'd to work the animals and lands of the farmtouns. Born from their entertainments at the social hour, hairst supper or clyack feast were numerous songs of life and times round these farms. This body of song, along with a mixture of older ballads and contemporary material popular in the rural areas became known as "Bothy" songs.

The era of the bothys, feeing markets, steam powered mills, kitchie deems and orramen is long since passed and gone but not totally forgotten. The songs which often poke fun and occasionally attempt to even up some old scores, still have much life and vitality about them especially when performed and presented as on this CD. Most of the songs included here are well known; indeed they include many that epitomise Bothy song structure and content, as with, " Oor Fairm Toon", "The Muckin' O' Geordie's Byre", "Sleepytoon" and " Barnyards O' Delgaty". As to be expected, work from the pen of Bothy song superstar, Geordie Morris, is well represented with: " Aikey Brae", "Muckle Friday Fair" and "The Buchan Bobby". Volume one finishes with the epic, "Macfarlan o' the Sprotts" written by the incomparable George Bruce Thomson.

The performers are well enough known round the north-east and further afield as well. Jock Duncan, Tam Reid, Joe Aitken, Gordon Easton and Eric Simpson all have a great deal of experience of the farming life and the songs and ballads. They are all fine singers and excel in the treatment and performance of bothy songs and ballads.

Peter Fairbairn

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This album was reviewed in Issue 36 of The Living Tradition magazine.