various artists,
The Battle of Prestonpans 1745
(Greentrax, 2010)

This compilation album is built around the Prestonpans Tapestry, a kind of modern-day Scottish Bayeaux. This product of a community initiative is thought to be the longest tapestry in the world, and after visiting a number of Scottish locations it will be launched for the world to see ... so watch out for it.

The album is composed of music and songs that will be played to accompany the exhibition, and as such it would greatly enhance the enjoyment of the product and the history it portrays.

The CD opens in dramatic reconstruction fashion with the Drambuie Kirkliston Pipe Band and some very effective sound effects announcing the "The King has Landed." That venerable folk group The Whistleblinkies asks the question in song, "Come Ye Ower Frae France." The wonderful voice of Jean Redpath recounts "Charlie's Landing" while the McCalmans give us "McLean's Welcome."

As on all albums of Scottish folk music we have the rousing tunes, and few do this better than the Corries. Here their contribution is "The News from Moidart." The album continues its journey through the better and lesser known songs depicting the period including "White Cockade," "Rise, Rise Lowland & Highland Men," "The Lady Frances Gardiner's Lament" and the often humorous "The Battle of Prestonpans," which gets the Corries' live treatment, which enhances it.

The album closes with an unaccompanied version of "Sound the Pibroch" sung appropriately by eight of those many stitchers who produced the tapestry.

One can enjoy this CD as a stand-alone product, but it makes one wonder how great it would be to hear it while in the presence of history in the tapestry.

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

23 October 2010

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