For my money, the McCalmans must be the brightest talent on the current British folk scene. I first heard them four years ago when they were auditioning for their first album. I was immediately knocked out by their rich, interesting vocal harmonies - a rare quality in their brand of music - and by the uncanny understanding they possess within the group - a rare quality whatever the brand of music.
Since our first encounter, I've worked a lot with the McCalmans in the recording studio (they knock me out more each time) and I've watched them wowing audiences in all sorts of places from noisy bars to a concert hall filled with out-and-out jazz fans. They never fail - they just get up there and sing, and no matter how cold or hostile the atmosphere, the McCalmans' sound gets to people where it counts and they've just got to listen. And once you've listened, you're hooked !
Ian, Derek and Hamish are all Scots (although Hamish was born in Kenya), and they first met while starting prematurely-terminated careers at Edinburgh College of Art in 1 964. They soon teamed up as a group and as their music scene flourished, so their architecture "non-careers" waned. Thus the premature termination of studies and the arrival of The McCalmans, professional singers/instrumentalists.
Although they "have always covered a fairly wide range of musical styles. The McCalmans have become best known through their club, concert, radio and TV work as singers of Traditional-type material. In fact, their first two albums leaned heavily in this direction. But the aim of this record was to combine the unmistakable McCalmans three-part harmony sound through both "traditional" and contemporary songs with no attempt to separate the music into compartments. This was stepping on tricky ground, but it has worked, and all credit to the McCalmans for picking material, both old and brand-new, which fitted into the pattern they had in mind.
The title "Turn Again" comes from the song which opens Side Two. It's a particularly apt title for this album, in as much as the musical thoughts of the McCalmans are always turning and sifting through new ideas, and in as much as this album and it's format marks a distinct turning point in this group's recording career - turning from one well-established image to a more competitive, demanding vein. There's no doubt that they've succeeded in what they set out to do, and yet it's hard to pin-point where the old ends and the new begins. That's where the talent is. "Turn Again", McCalmans. We look forward to it.