Tuesday, January 09, 2007

"Battlefield Band" 1977

Battlefield Band play Scottish music of a rare passion and joy. Inspired by their rich heritage of Celtic music and fired by the strength and vibrancy of today's Scottish cultural scene, which indeed they have done much to create and fuel, they have led, and been at the forefront, of a great revival in Scottish music. Refusing to be limited musically by suffocating antiquarianism, or the 'music biz' fashions, they have mixed the old songs and music with a new self-penned repertoire, all played on a fusion of ancient and modern instruments - bagpipes, fiddle, synthesiser, guitar, flutes, bodhran and accordion.

Named after the Glasgow suburb of Battlefield, where the group was formed by four student friends, Battlefield Band have been on the world's roads for just on 30 years now, distilling their own unique form of the Scottish spirit and bottling it in concert and onto disc - Germany, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Syria, Jordan, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, U.S.A., Canada and the U.K. They have broken down barriers and pioneered many new directions which others have followed. Angry, joyful, raucous, contemplative, their music is most importantly - accessible to all.

Pete Heywood (The Living Tradition):
This is a re-issue of the album originally released on the Topic label in 1977. Simply titled "Battlefield Band" with its predominantly white cover, I referred to it as their "white album" and, like the Beatles' White album, this was, and still is, a classy release.

At this time they had a release out on the French Arfolk label (with three guest pipers whose names and photographs were all transposed on the sleeve), but this was a major album on what was THE folk label of the time. The front cover shows the band grouped around their famous pedal organ (a stripped down harmonium), the line up being Brian McNeill, Alan Reid, Jamie McMenemy and John Gahagan, the principal instruments being fiddle, cittern, whistle, concertina, guitar and harmonium. In the background of the photograph is a thirteen amp socket on the wall with no plug in it. I don't know if this was deliberate, but the album was acoustic.

The album contains the same mix of songs and instrumentals that has been typical of Battlefield over the years. Brian McNeill had not really developed his songwriting at that stage and there were no pipes on this album. The arrangements were simpler than many of the later albums with little in the way of double tracking and this was very much their live sound.

In the 70's, Glasgow and the West of Scotland were certainly producing a lot of talented performers with strands of development which would make an interesting family tree. Jamie McMenemy eventually moved to Brittany and the group KORNOG, spreading the musical web, John Gahagan went on to Kentigern and still pops up in various guises and Brian McNeill and Alan Reid remained at the heart of many great Battlefield lineups, recording over a dozen albums.

This album is definitely one to add to your collection especially if you like acoustic bands. It still sounds as fresh and innovative as ever and could still teach many of today's bands a thing or two.

Brian McNeill: fiddle, cittern, viola, concertina, mandoline
Alan Reid: organ, vocal, guitar
John Gahagan: whistle, concertina
Jamie McMenemy: cittern, vocal, Portuguese guitarra

More about the band: Official website

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm bot a 'blogger' so a request here. Could You post any album of the band Oige.
Their homepage: http://www.tradcentre.com/oige/

THX

09 January, 2007 22:48  
Blogger System Rocker said...

Hey, I was wondering if you wanted to link exchange with http://rockshot.eu/musicblogs.html. I'm making a collection of good downloadsites and I hope you want to add the site. I've already added yours

10 January, 2007 05:16  
Blogger alonsii said...

vERY NICE ALBUM, AND VERY NICE BLOG!
A LOT OF GOOD A RARE THINGS!!!

28 January, 2007 07:22  
Anonymous streaker said...

man, this is very, very good music!

12 August, 2007 02:31  
Anonymous padre said...

Is this not theft? Don't you need the permission of the copyright owner?

31 October, 2007 21:23  

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