Battlefield Band: The Producer’s Choice
In 2016 Battlefield Band were inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame, after almost half a century as internationally acclaimed ambassadors for Scottish folk music with numerous albums and thousands of concerts worldwide. Over this time many great musicians have passed through their ranks, some staying for decades and others just for a couple of years but all have been important in maintaining the distinctive freshness and creativity of the band.
An important part of this continuity can be traced to the band’s long-term producer and manager, Robin Morton of Temple Records. Morton has produced 26 of their albums and this is his chance to celebrate their new award and indulge himself a bit by choosing his own personal highlights and favourite tracks from many of the albums he has produced. And so The Producer’s Choice contains 19 tracks and also features 19 of the musicians who have played with the band over the years.
It goes without saying that the album is full of wonderful tunes and songs and excellent musicianship. There are bagpipe and fiddle-led instrumentals as well as traditional and original songs. None of this is presented in chronological order and it’s impossible to detect at first listen which tracks were recorded recently and which are decades old, such is the common thread and cohesion of the band despite the many personnel changes.
So to indulge myself and mention a few personal highlights of my own, the instrumental that stands out is John McCusker’s beautiful ‘Leaving Friday Harbor’. The tune takes its name from the small port on San Juan Island in the straits between the State of Washington coast and Vancouver Island. Alan Reid’s song ‘The Road of Tears’ entwines history with contemporary issues of great relevance. Equally poignant is ‘The Last Trip Home’ featuring Davy Steele, while Karine Polwart shines on the traditional ‘Shepherd Lad’.
The Producer’s Choice is released by Temple Records and clips can be listened to on their website where the album is available to buy as a download or CD with free shipping worldwide.