Review : Various Artists - Whaur the Pig Gaed on the Spree
Popmatters“[M]y own feeling is that Alan is, in his way, a man of genius,” said Hamish Henderson, singer, communist, folklorist, co-founder of the school of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh, a man who was born in 1919 and died in 2002, and a chief supporter of Alan Lomax during his field recording excursions to Scotland in the mid-1900s.
Henderson was also in possession of a clear and rhythmic singing voice, as you can hear on the album, where he performs “The John MacLean March”. MacLean was a revolutionary and pacifist and “The March” is one of several songs here that kick against the situation of Scotland—defeated by England, working through the industrial revolution, caught up in British wars. “The Big Kilmarnock Bonnet” warns young farmhands not to try their luck in the big city, otherwise they’ll end up robbed, soaked, and in gaol. “McCafferty”, which was originally an Irish song, sympathizes with a soldier who shot two of his superiors and was sentenced to hang.
The singers throughout the album, in universal folk song tradition, take on the voices of the poor and the pressured, which are the voices of themselves, informal performers, singers-to-the-neighbourhood. A poacher is executed in “Johnny O’ Braidislee”, and it’s the poacher we follow, not the foresters who shoot him. He gets up in the morning, he fetches his dogs, he goes out, kills deer, eats, and is betrayed. Trapped, he fires back and rides away defiantly. All in an economical storytelling style, all information packed into nuggets of four lines each, with an extra one on the last verse to emphasise his death....full text
ListIn the summer of 1951 Alan Lomax made his first song collecting tour of Scotland, aided by the great Scottish poet and folklorist Hamish Henderson. Drawn from those recordings, this Alasdair Roberts-curated compilation does a superb job of capturing what he describes as ‘the passion, rawness, command, depth of understanding … and uniqueness of style’ of great singers like Jeannie Robertson, Jimmy McBeath and Mary Cosgrove. In their hands, ‘The Deadly Wars are Blast and Blawn’ and ‘The Collier Lad’ are stark and deeply moving. Elsewhere, there are magnificent fiddle and pipe tunes, bawdy ballads, and the unfettered joy of some Aberdeen schoolchildren’s playground rhymes. None of these recordings sound like museum pieces: they are full of life, a testament to the human spirit...full text
PiccadillyrecordsIn the summer of 1951, Alan Lomax made his first trip to Scotland on the recommendations of folksinger Ewan MacColl and poet, song-collector and Scots nationalist Hamish Henderson. Travelling through the Scottish Lowlands, Lomax and Henderson recorded pipe tunes, children’s games, Robert Burns compositions and dozens of ballads from farm labourers, fishwives, and the Scottish travelling folk. Alan wasn’t just impressed by the variety of the country’s traditional music; he was astounded by the depth of the Scots’ knowledge and appreciation of it.
‘Whaur The Pig Gaed On The Spree’ commemorates the 60th anniversary of Lomax’s first Scottish recordings and acknowledges their profound effect on the Scotland’s folk revival with one of its most gifted heirs at the wheel: Drag City recording artist Alasdair Roberts.
Curated by Roberts and produced in collaboration with the Alan Lomax Archive's Global Jukebox label, the record is a startlingly diverse portrait of Lowland traditional music and song: from gentle to rumbustious, hilarious to heartbreaking....full text
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