A SCARCE O'TATTIES/LYNDHURST
The first of these tunes was written by Norman McLean of Oban and was given to us by another piper, Alan McDonald of Glenuig, at a fierce session in Edinburgh a couple of years ago. It is followed by "Lyndhurst", a fourpart pipe march which we play here as a jig.
THE VALLEY OF STRATEMOPE
Of the many who emigrated to the New World, only a few were to realise their dreams of wealth and good fortune. In this song, written by Andy, the emigrant does find material success only to discover — to late — that it is of no use to him without the girl he left behind. Strathmore ('the big plain') stretches from Blairgowrie North-East along the boundary between Perthshire and Angus.
This beautiful Irish song was given to us by Ruth Morgan of Essex. It is basically her collation of several versions, translated from the Irish Gaelic, which we have slightly adapted.
A.A. CANERON's STRATHSPEY/MRS. MARTHA KNOWLES (P. CUNNINGHAN) THE PITNACREE FERRYMAN/THE NEW SHILLIN'
The first tune of this set is one of the finer examples of the 'strathspey'. Originating in the Spey Valley, these unusual dance tunes are found purely within the Scottish Tradition. Phil wrote the next tune in honour of his grandmother. It is a fourpart reel, written within the piping scale. "The Pitnacree Ferryman" can be found in several Scottish tune collections, but Johnny found "The New Shillin'" in a very old book of hand-written manuscripts and this is, to the best of our knowledge, the first time it has been recorded.
DONALD McGILLAVRY/O'NEILL's CAVALRY MARCH
Donald McGillavry was a captain in charge of a section of the Highland army during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. In this song, however, his name is used to represent the entire Jacobite force. We have linked with the song "O'Neill's Cavalry March", a similarly stirring martial tune.
THE HIGHLAND CLEARANCES
This is a lament for the glens of Scotland, seen through the eyes of a man standing in a ruined croft. These now desolate places bear silent witness to the harshness, brutality and sadness of the Highland Clearances. The name 'Gillanders' is mentioned in the song, he was a particularly heartless perpetrator of the evictions associated with his job as Factor to the Laird. Andy wrote this song.
MISS CATHERINE BROSNN
An air written by Phil.
WI' MY DOG AND GUN
This used to be a favourite of the older members of Andy's family and was regularly sung at ceilidhs and when everybody met at the New Year. The young lass in this song shows great common sense when she refuses to be enticed away by a persuasive and reckless young man. The song is widely known in Ireland to a different air, and although the words are typically Scottish both countries claim it for their own.
MISS SHEPHERD/SWEENEY's BUTTERMILK/MCGLINCHEY 's REELS
"Miss Shepherd" was composed by the famous Scottish fiddler J. Scott Skinner, although it is not really typical of his style. It was given to us by a close friend, Dougie McLean of Dunkeld. The second tune "Sweeney's Buttermilk" is an Irish two part reel which is also known as "Charlie Lennon's No. 2". We end this set, and the album, with our interpretation of two great reels written by Brendan McGlinchey.
It's a beautiful album … it's the vocal tracks that are the real revelation. Stewart's performance is relaxed yet commanding, effortless yet intense and at all times getting inside the song. It's an album of total assurance with warmth that increases in stature the more it shoots round the turntable.
Colin Irwin - Melody Maker