Going to Scotland is the nearest you can get in the British Isles to going abroad without crossing the sea. It really is a totally different country with different scenery, architecture, attitudes and culture. The folk music of Scotland is known throughout the world because the music of Scotland says more about the country and its inhabitants than anything else. But this is not a boring cultural record. Scottish traditional music it may be, and largely performed by Scots, but anyone with an artistic soul will recognise that this is basically just sheer entertainment. Scottish folk songs are like the evergreens of popular western music: they have a quality that makes every new performance of them enjoyable and they never seem to go stale.
Perhaps with the exception of "The Skye Boat Song" performed here by the McCalmans, very few of the other titles on this album will be recognised by any other than the folk aficionados. But the melodies are all instantly recognisable, as are the artists.
Here we have Alex Campbell, for example, who was perhaps most important in the van of recorded British folk music in the early sixties, just before the great revival. The Ian Campbell Group too did much to popularise Scottish and Northern English folk music during the same period. Hamish Imlach has been an influence on everyone in the folk world, whether they know it or not, as has Archie Fisher.
And there are plenty of other names on this carefully compiled album, not least of them Dave Swarbrick, who is not Scottish, but who cares.
This album presents the complete breadth of Scottish music from laments to reels. A veritable treasure chest for the enthusiast and an extremely entertaining forty-odd minutes for the casual listener.