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DOUGIE PINCOCK - "Something Blew" - Greentrax CDTRAX080

This review is not yet loaded - soon we hope! The release, in 1993, of "A Gem So Small", a collection of sixty three new pipe tunes, confirmed the rumour that Dougie Pincock was an accomplished composer. The demonstration tape provided with the book displayed Dougie's excellent technique and was further proof that the ex "Battlefield Band" member was a class piper, as if that was really needed. The most surprising facet of "A Gem So Small" was that the pipes were the only instrument played when we all know Dougie is a musical polymath - "if you can blow it he can play it". At the time Dougie indicated that his next project would be to take some of the tunes from the book and present them in a "fuller" context. "Something Blew" is the result.

The Great Highland Bagpipe takes pride of place on this recording but doesn't have it all its own way with Dougie also playing Small Pipes, Whistles, flute, Saxophones, and not forgetting the Bodhran. The guest musicians list is also impressive with Ron Shaw on cello and "RunRig's" very own Malcolm Jones with his unmistakable guitar sound, to name but two.

Around half of the tunes on "Something Blew" were documented by Dougie in "The Gem So Small" and here they are developed into well rounded sets. As you might expect from someone who has a command of so many instruments Dougie is adept at arranging other instruments around the Bagpipe. No easy task. This is not a CD full of "pipe tunes" with lackluster backing, the tracks here have a multilayered "band" sound, resulting in a "listenable" piping CD which even non pipers will appreciate.

The delectable slow air "The Gem So small" tops and tails the CD with the ending version featuring Corrina Hewat on Small Harp being a particular delight. The use of slow airs such as Norman MacDonald's "The Twins" with its innovative use of the Church Organ played by Susie Petrov, provides a good change of pace throughout the album. The piobaireached "MacCrimmon's Sweetheart" is given a new arrangement featuring Cello, and harp which brings an ancient tune bang up to date yet doesn't detract from the original beauty of the tune. This is undoubtedly the way to bring piobaireached into the mainstream from which those it ensnares can delve further into the esoteric but rewarding world of piobaireached.

A sense of fun pervades this CD from the "ice cream van" chimes in the opening set (guaranteed to have the kids demanding money) to the "metal head" set with Malcolm Jones doing what he does best. All you rock fans beware though, playing the "air bagpipe" looks even dafter than "air guitar", you have been warned! Part of the charm of this recording is hat you are never sure what is going to happen next.

Dougie has indelibly stamped his mark on the way forward for innovative pipers. Starting with good tunes and harnessing the strengths of other instruments, and musicians, Dougie has created a gem of an album, which should be cherished gratefully. This album sets a new benchmark against which the rest of the "new wave" of pipers must measure up to. That is perhaps not fair given Dougie's abilities on other instruments, but who ever said life was fair?

"Something Blew" is the official title. "Something damn near brilliant" I'd call it.

Chris MacKenzie

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