Battlefield Band: Room Enough For All

Battlefield Band have been together in various incarnations and permutations ever since the original band’s formation in 1969 and they remain one of the great institutions of the Scottish music scene. Their latest album Room Enough For All continues their seemingly endless march “forward with Scotland’s past” with another mixture of traditional and modern music and song and a line-up of Mike Katz, Alasdair White, Sean O’Donnell and Ewen Henderson. Their fusion of ancient and modern is driven mainly by the twin attack of fiddles and bagpipes supported by guitar, whistles, bouzouki and bass.

Once again there are songs of social history, instrumentals, plaintive ballads and songs from the Scots Gaelic tradition which are as powerful and moving as ever. The album opens with the track ‘Bagpipe Music’ which is, in fact, Sean O’Donnell’s musical setting of a poem by Irish born poet Louis MacNeice. Later on, there is another very different poem, ‘In Contempt’, this time by American poet Aaron Kramer, which is also set to music and sung by O’Donnell.

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Alongside these are some stirring pieces of music with fine interplay between the fiddles and the piping of Mike Katz. The album has a slightly less full-on sound compared to some of the previous Battlefield Band albums which were reinforced by Alan Reid’s keyboards but is none the worse for that and the music is always invigorating – it could hardly be otherwise with such fine musicians who obviously know and respect each other. Thankfully, they don’t respect the tradition too much not to know that it doesn’t hurt to change and adapt it when necessary.

One of the outstanding songs is ‘Duanag an t-Seoladair’ (Song of the Sailor) written by the 19th century bard Niall MacLeod from the Isle of Skye. It tells of a sailor’s longing to be permanently with his love. Katz and Henderson add some additional music to the traditional melody to create a strong and moving performance. The album ends with the original instrumental ‘Tynes in Overtime’ which brings us bang up to date as it was written to celebrate Lawrence Tynes, the Scots born American football placekicker for the New York Giants.

Room Enough For All is released on 8th April by Temple Records. Battlefield Band are currently touring Canada and the USA and will subsequently be playing in the UK, Switzerland and Germany. For full details of tour dates see the band’s website:

Explore posts in the same categories: Roots Music from Out There

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