There are two exceptionally difficult things to do in life. One is to hang your rear end from a window then run down stairs and throw stones at it. The other is writing sleeve notes, especially when a good head on suitable shoulders is priority number one, but let's face it, some heads are no way fussy whose shoulders they perch on these days.
This year our collective heads, and other accessories, have taken us from Wick to Penzance and Copenhagen to Vienna. We've rehearsed this album, in front rooms, back rooms, bathrooms, public bars and fields. We'd like then, to thank the many friends, old and new, who helped us, after all that, to make this, our second album.
A million thanks to:
Stewart, Joanne & Mick — for the bottled relaxation
Geoff, Hilary & Joel - who must have wished for a new Hadrians wall just north of Bedford
Nigel - again for his help.
May the best thing they've ever seen be the worst thing they will ever see.
Tannahill Weavers '78
THE DEIL's AWA' WI' TH'EXCISEMAN
It is said that Robert Burns rattled this up in 10 minutes. Any Scot will know this to be true as Burns is known to have rattled up more than songs in less than 10 minutes.
A happy lament for the devil who, seeing the world in a sad state of oppression, musically seduces the taxman lo dance all the way back to hell by playing an irresistible tune on his violin.
Hence began a tradition which, to this day, is religiously practised as the inland revenue, never sleeping, is constantly searching for the fiddler.
The pipe tune here is the old woman's dance.
CAM YE OWER FRAE FRANCE
Scandal, libel and bribery are not trappings of political life borne only by today's statesmen.
Under the guise of satire. King George I and his political friends are savagely attacked and threatened in this song. The Jacobites * really stuck the boot in here. We get it all — corruption, graft, double dealing and even a visit lo a famous house of horizontal refreshment.
*Jacobites are not a crunchy eat food, being, in fact, the followers of the Stuarts. King George was Hanoverian.
GLOOMY WINTER's NOO' AWA'
We always like lo include a Robert Tannahill song and this is certainly one of his most beautiful, having captured, in his words and melody, the romantic feeling of spring when a young man's heart goes up and down like a Venetian blind.
Note dripping icicle noises and delicately coughing blackbirds.
Rob Roy McGregor, Scotland's answer to Robin Hood or Hoodlum, was indeed a very famous character who has become legend, folk lore and received the ultimate accolade of having places named after him *. His sons, however , are best forgotten. Rape, murder, pillage and cattle rustling made them a bunch of real rotten expletives or string of semi-colons, asterisks and exclamation marks. Thanks are due to Hamish Imlach who set this Wardrop poem to the pipe tune Haughs o' Cromdale.
The song begins with the ground of the piobaireachd McGregor's salute and ends with a reel for which we have no name.
*Rob Roy's leap: A famous Scottish chasm over 50ft. wide.
Whilst being chased by English soldiers Rob Roy found his only means of escape was to jump over this awe inspiring canyon. Having, however, less than a 6ft. run up this seemed a truly impossible task but, with a stout heart and a handful of porridge (or gutful of stout and heartful of courage), he ran with all his strength, tripped over a stone and plummeted 200ft. to his death.
BONNIE WAS YON ROSIE BRIAR
The melody of this love song originated in Brittany. This part of the world, famous for its beautiful music, has a great cultural affinity with Scotland, Ireland and Wales but unfortunately, we still couldn't manage the Bretagne lyric. However, we managed to find a Scottish poem which "married" the melody with hesitation or shotgun.
Seeking the shade (a likely story), the two lovers conduct their courtship under a rose bush. A love affair which must have ended, if not begun, very painfully.
Many thanks to Pichtogorn Buree from Paris for the melody and Robert Burns for the poem.
THE LAIRD O'COCKPEN
A song from the east coast of Scotland concerning the worst case of attempted marriage on record.
The male chauvinist Laird or baddie, being in desperate need of a wife, cook, bottle washer approaches the inevitable only daughter or goodie without due courtship, expensive meals, red wine only to be rebuffed and, due no doubt to his chauvinism, left confused and in doubt of the lady's mental health.