Battlefield Band & Guests: Beg & Borrow
In England there’s Fairport Convention and in Ireland it’s The Chieftains. Meanwhile in Scotland it’s Battlefield Band whose longevity has made them an institution. In turn they have played an enormous part in keeping Scottish music and traditions alive while always moving forward and meeting new challenges. Now a trio comprising piper Mike Katz, fiddler Alasdair White, and guitarist and singer Sean O’Donnell, this latest release is a special project for which they have enlisted the help of twelve guests.
The idea behind the album is set out by producer Robin Morton in the sleeve notes: “Scotland and Ireland are separated by only twelve miles of water at their nearest point, so it’s not surprising that their cultures have begged and borrowed (and maybe even stolen) much from each other over the centuries. For this their thirtieth album Battlefield Band have invited twelve special guests (one for each of the twelve miles) to explore and play the music and songs shared by those two vibrant living traditions.”
The 18 tracks add up to 71 minutes of music evenly divided between Scotland and Ireland. We find songs sung in both Scottish and Irish Gaelic as well as in English and there are slow airs, jigs, reels, strathspeys and hornpipes. Needless to say, everything is sung and played impeccably and with great feeling as the musicians do justice to their stated aim. It’s impossible to pick the best tracks but to these ears one song featuring singer Christine Primrose is especially worthy of mention. This is ‘An Gille Mear’ (The Gallant Lad) an Irish song she has translated into Scots Gaelic.
There is a website for the project which contains audio clips of all the tracks as well as some artist interviews and detailed background information on the music and musicians:
Beg & Borrow is released by Temple Records. The CD is due for release in October but the album can be downloaded now through their website and the company is currently working on making their whole back catalogue downloadable direct from the site: