TURF LODGE, THE CAPE BRETON FIDDLERS' WELCOME TO THE SHETLAND ISLES, LADY MARGARET STEW ART & THE FLAGGON
A mixture of modern and traditional tunes, featuring just about everything we play. Like the man says, "If this doesn't get your feet tapping you're dead."
This is one of the Scots' great battle songs, that of the battle of Tranent Muir.
Being just a few miles from Tranent, we could actually see some of the places mentioned in this song as we recorded it. (Nice to have these useless snippets of information at your fingertips, isn't it?)
ISABEAUX S'Y PROMENE & BANAIS MAIREAD
We learned the first part of this medley from a French group we were lucky enough to meet at Irvine's Marymass festival in Scotland. This haunting melody was written about a young lady who visits her sailor boyfriend on board his vessel. After spending a romantic evening with him she leaves as his fiancee. Unfortunately, by the time she leaves him the pier has parted company with the ship. Her fiance arrives on deck to see her going down for the third time, and immediately composes this tune for her. The second tune here is one from our flutist Phil. The title written in Gaelic means Maggie's Wedding.
FISHER ROW & NEWMARKET HOUSE
Another song from the fishing community here, this time from the east coast of Scotland near Edinburgh. The hero is a shellfish digger, probably on mussel beach (get it?).
Shellfish at one time were considered a great aphrodisiac; it was not unusual for young couples to eat twelve oysters each on a Saturday night and complain on Sunday that two didn't work.
Sadly for the couple in this song, things do not go according to plan, for they and their sins are discovered by the Church, which promptly punishes them.
The tune at the end of this song is Newmarket House, a hornpipe by R.S. Burns. Newmarket House was the name given to the officer's mess of the first Battalion Royal Scots in Benghazi in 1960.
WILD MOUNTAIN THYME
If Scottish folk song has an anthem then this is it — everybody, but everybody, knows it. So much so, in fact, that it received the ultimate accolade for a song, becoming so popular that it became taboo to sing it. Just an example of the strange things that happen in the music business.
We have recorded this as a tribute to Alex Campbell, who took his music onto the streets in the days when there were no folk clubs. From these humble beginnings Alex took his music into almost every known venue in the western world, in a career that spanned over 25 years and 100 albums. Sadly Alex is no longer with us. He was a man who blazed the trail for the rest of us. We'll never see his likes again.
Rab the Ranter, Scotland's finest piper, was also renowned for his popularity with the ladies. One day, in the middle of the forest on the way to the fair, he meets with Maggie Lauder, Scotland's most beautiful lassie. As it happens she is carrying two pails of milk.
"Who are you?" says she.
"Rab the Ranter," says he.
"Oh, I suppose I'd better put the pails down then," says Maggie.
THE SMOKEY LUM, MAGGIE's PANCAKES, DANCING FEET & THE MASON's APRON
The first two tunes were written by Stuart Morison, the first inspired by a rather badly designed chimney which defied the laws of physics and sent the smoke into the room rather than out into the atmosphere. The second he wrote as a tribute to Maggie Moore's wonderful pancakes.
There is a story concerning Dancing Feet: Supposedly it was spontaneously composed at a dance in Inverness — G.S. MacLennan was playing the reel Sandy Duff and accidentally lapsed into this tune, which he named Dancing Feet.
According to his son, it was this tune that he was playing on his practice chanter when he passed away in 1929, at a relatively young age, from lung disease.
The Mason's Apron is an extremely "weel kent" tune to which our piper Iain MacInnes has composed some of his own variations.
Nothing can be added by us to the volumes already written about the beauty of Robert Burns' love songs. This is one of his finest.
THE CAMPBLETON KILTIE BALL, THE BACK OF THE MOON, KELSAE BRIG, PUT ME IN THE GREAT CHEST & SERGEANT MACDONALD's REEL
This is a set of one strathspey and four reels. The Cambleton Kiltie Ball was written by Pipe Major John MacLellan. The Back of the Moon is by A.G. Kenneth of Stronachullin, a well known composer with a penchant for strange titles such as "The Lady in theBottle".
Fiddler Ian Hardie is responsible for Kelsae Brig, which is included in his recent book A Breath of Fresh Airs published by Bowmont Music, Kelso, Roxburghshire.
Our version of Put Me in the Great Chest is loosely based on one in Angus MacKay's Piper's Assistant 1840 where it goes by its Gaelic title Cuir Sa Chiste Mhoir Mi. It has nothing whatever to do with any fantasies we may or may not have regarding Playboy centrefolds. The great chest is, of course, a coffin. The story goes that as the composer of this fine tune lay on his death bed he asked for a last bottle of stout. He finished it and requested that the bedroom window be opened.
"I will throw this empty bottle and wherever it lands is where I wish my final resting place to be."
He was buried on top of the wardrobe.
THE FINAL TRAWL
A song here from the pen of Archie Fisher, one of Scotland's finest singer songwriters. It doesn't seem so long ago that songs were being written in praise of the amounts of fish being caught. Now, a sign of the times, a song lamenting the scrapping of a fishing vessel, an all too common occurrence these days as the fishing industry becomes more and more difficult to sustain.
Archie has written a few heave-away type lines for this song, so please try not to get too seasick during it all. If you do, just remember that we Celts are the greatest inventors of seasickness cures in the world. In Scotland, you simply hang over the side of the ship with a coin between your teeth. In Ireland you sit under a tree.
The Tannahill Weavers wish to thank:
Calum of Castle Sound for his expertise and talent in the recording studio, Pete and Lesley for accommodating our fiddler during the making of this album, Terry and Donna of Various Violins Dundee for fiddle maintenance, Willie Haines of Canongate Music Edinburgh for the bones, Jim Gilchrist for the D small pipes, Maggie for typing, editing, bookkeeping, and all the help on tour, And everyone on both sides of the Atlantic who has befriended and helped us over the last year.