various artists,
Auld Lang Syne
(Culburnie, 1999)

We are all familiar with the title of this CD. Every year in a million locations, there are drunken, lacrimous and spirited renditions as old years fade and new ones begin. As such it is a fitting title for this particular CD that is compilation of the old and new in Scottish music. It has established artists and new names. It features the compositions of Robbie Burns alongside works by young and new writers on the present. The whole mixture is blended liked good whiskey and leaves a listener thirsting for more.

The CD opens with the title track by The Cast. This is beautiful, wistful rendition, which will be a breath of fresh air to anyone used to the pub version. It is on versions such as this we recognise the love song connotations of the song.

"Gloomy Winter's Noo Awa" is the great title of a track by Chantan. The liner notes tell us that the tune of the old Scots song was used as the theme for the film The Piano. Speaking of movie themes, "Year's Turning" by Skyedance has a very familiar sound. In places it sounds very much like the mega-hit "I Will Go On" from Titanic.

Fiddle and guitar are featured on a traditional lullaby "Men of Ulster." The winter solstice inspired Alasdair Fraser to write "Dawn Dance," although I must admit it gave me more a feeling of the summer with its lively tune.

What folk music lover has not heard the traditional tune "My Johnny was a Shoemaker"? The version here by Bachue gives it a lovely new slant that is well worth a listen. Other Burns tunes featured on the CD include "Green Grow the Rashes" and "The Collier Laddie."

This CD is ideal for those who like their traditional music given a new slant. It may not please those who believe that "as it was written so must it be played," but like all good music, traditions must develop.

Maybe the title track here is telling us that it is Hogmanay and the old tunes are moving into a new year.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 7 June 2003

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