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VARIOUS ARTISTS - "A' The Best"- Sleepytown Records SLPYCD004

Sleepytown Records is a new label based in Ellon in Aberdeenshire and before reviewing this particular album, allow me to take some time out to heap lavish praise on the label's proprietor Ronnie Cairns for giving another boost to Scotland's independent record scene. Further, if Sleepytown's future catalogue is anything like the first batch of releases we're in for a treat indeed. "A' The Best", however, won't be a typical Sleepytown release for it's a charity compilation made up of tracks donated by independent Scottish labels.

Profits from this very worthy venture will go to the children's helpline charity, ChildLine and there are twenty tracks which would grace any collection. Take your pick from the opening "How Will I Ever Be Simple Again" from the 'old' Battlefield - and how good it is to hear Alasdair Russell's voice again - then pause for breath as we go on a whistle-stop tour of some of Scotland's finest performers.

The standard is uniformly high - there's Dougie MacLean preceding The Poozies; Capercaillie leading on to Aly Bain; Arthur Johnstone in fine company with Sheena Wellington and Jock Duncan paving the way for Wolfstone. Add to that list names such as Alasdair Fraser, The Tannahill Weavers, Sheena Wellington, Ossian and Rod Paterson and leave some room for a couple of sample tracks from Sleepytown's own stablemates The Gaugers and MakFolk and you'll see what being eclectic means.

It's a fine cause and it's the perfect present for anyone who'd like to get into Scottish folk music but wants to test the water first. Thoroughly recommended for first-time buyers.

Alan McIntosh Brown

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