"The McCalmans", who retired in 2010, made 26 albums and recorded over 400 songs. Finding new songs was a group passion and because of the constant influx of material, many songs never made it on to a Macs' album. This album has studio recordings, rehearsal recordings, live concerts songs, "Final Concert" songs from the DVD, plus a couple of "cassette copies of cassette copies", so please don't sue us for the occasional hiss or bump; consider it as the gift of third generation analogue.
We have been asked, many times, for recordings of McCalmans' songs which were never released on McCalmans' albums. I set about the task of searching through hundreds of tapes, minidiscs, LPs, CDs, videos, PC files etc., and came up with this album which is dedicated to our two sorely missed friends, Derek Moffat and Nick Keir. Dehissers, denoisers, noise gates, decracklers, de-dogbarkers, smoke and mirrors were all used in the making of this album.
Cold Night in this Old Town (Nick sings) — I listened to all the original multi track digital recordings of our CDs, looking for an unused track. I'd almost given up when I discovered this unmixed track by the late, and very great, Nick Keir. It was recorded for the 2004 album, "Tangled Web", but we already had 7 quiet tracks for that album so we put it "on hold". It's a distinctively "Nick" song though its darkness does not reflect the man himself.
The Diamond (Derek sings) — There are a few songs on the album from a 1976 radio programme about "Whales" which "The Macs" musically illustrated. Derek sings the lead in a song which we tried to record for "House Full" but failed because of unprofessional giggling throughout the song. We put the intro on the album calling the track, "The Diamond (a folk tale)". Here's the song at last.
The Peat Bog Soldiers (Ian sings) — Written in 1933 by political prisoners in Germany and synonymous with the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War. We first heard this from German friends, "Liederjan" who I asked to be part of my Celtic Connections' production, "Scots in the Spanish Civil War". It was recorded for a "live" album "At Your Service" in 1980 but we decided not to use it.
Wild Mountain Thyme (Stephen sings) — We were asked by lifelong friends, Sam and Drew, to record this for their wedding. It's the only existing recording with a "Bayne/Quigg/McCalman" lineup, so I think it qualifies.
Wheel(s) of Fortune (Nick sings) — Recorded for a Grampian TV show when we spent two evenings in Aberdeen recording 40+ songs, thence to the Highlands to mime to the tapes. I felt guilty, taking a fee for so much fun.
Lowlands Away (Ian sings) — This was recorded during a wonderful visit (can't call it a tour) to Bermuda in '77. We left the stage to sing it as our encore and the guy recording, followed us, hence the bangs during the first verse.
Lena (Sara) the Whale "Sara the Whale" (Ian sings). It's a children's song from a recording in 1976. Burl Ives made it famous and the correct name is "Sara the Whale". "Lena" is an unsolved mystery.
Bonnyrig Banker (Stephen & Nick sing) — From the Final Concert DVD recorded at the Queens Hall in 2010. It's a full history of the banking collapse of 2008, almost! There are two banks in Bonnyrigg. This is about the other one.
Come By the Hills (Stephen sings) — This is from a gig in Portree. We also performed it on the last ever concert in Edinburgh.
Working on the New Railroad (Hamish sings) — I didn't remember Hamish singing this with the band. It's from a concert in Brisbane, Australia, in 1981.
The Road and the Miles Tae Dundee (Ian & Derek sing) — From a concert in Scheveningen, Netherland, in 1981. Always a great gig.
Willie Brewed a Peck O' Maut (Derek sings) — I can't understand why we didn't record this song about three guys getting drunk. Familiar territory! I think this is also from Netherland in '81.
Greenland Whale Fisheries — A Derek Moffat unaccompanied, singing classic from 1976. It's from a radio programme, "Whales", produced by Stewart Conn and written by Jean and Frank Bechhofer; an all-time favourite project.
Blow Ye Winds — Also recorded in 1976, this was a stalwart of the 50s folk revival and follows on, naturally, from "Greenland Whale Fisheries".
The Hug Song (Ian sings) — This song, recorded in Acharacle, is far too "nice" for the McCalmans. We heard big Eddie Winship and lain MacKintosh sing it so we gave it a try for the "Festival Lights" album, but it wasn't for us;
John Barleycorn (Ian sings) — Vicious song. It might make you feel better if you know that this song is about the crop, barley.
Plooman Laddies (Barbara Dickson sings) — Barbara is one of Britain's most successful recording artists and I've known her all her singing days. I think it was recorded in Sandy Bells' pub in the late 60s by Torquil Knudsen, for The School of Scottish Studies. Thanks Barbara.
Caledonia (Nick sings) — We never performed this one for years because we associated it so closely with the late Derek Moffat. It's taken from the "Final Concert" DVD in 2010. Enough said.
So the Years Roll On (Nick & Stephen sing) — I wrote this song with the idea that it would be our last song at our final gig and we happily achieved that objective. Sad though.