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Band of Burns Band of Burns
Album: Live From Union Chapel
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 19
Website: http://www.bandofburns.com

Spread throughout the corners of the UK are Band of Burns, a collaboration of musicians who have bound together to celebrate the spirit and works of Robbie Burns. Making their debut in January 2017 with shows in the Trinity Arts Centre in Bristol and Union Chapel in London, this live recording from the London show is a two-CD behemoth of the bard's works with a collection of Trad material.

The album starts off on familiar ground in Scottish Trad 'Gaol Ise Gaol I' (She is my love) and is a waulking song (waulking of the tweed) followed by a blistering set of reels. Staying with familiar territory is 'A Parcel o' Rogues', Burns' comment upon the politicians who he felt sold out his nation in the 'Act of Union'. This rousing version is rather minimal for the twelve piece band, with a pounding double bass and two voices taking the lead.

'Ae Fond Kiss' follows suit with delicate fiddle leads and dual vocals. To pick out single musicians in this album to praise is very tough. The whole album is exemplary musicianship. Closer of the first CD is 'Ghosts' written by Kris Drever from Lau and is a song about refugees as 'ghosts' in the system. Quite a bold cover to take on which is performed with the respect it deserves of the subject.

The second part of the album doesn't fail to disappoint either with a version of 'John Anderson, My Jo' which Eddi Reader listeners will know...this version is something of an oddity on the album I have to say, which has a Middle-Eastern feel. Back on familiar territory with 'Now Westlin' Winds' followed by more tune sets. There really is a feeling of joy in this album when listening to it, exemplary lead playing with a real respect for the tradition shining from every song.

The album closes with 'Green Grows the Rashes' which is a very anthemic rousing version which lifts beautifully and 'Wild Mountain Thyme' which in the linear notes of the album claims the latter is a Burns song, which I am pretty certain it isn't and a quick google search doesn't confirm this. (answers on a postcard though please).

Overall this live album is full of excellent contemporary versions of Burns' most popular material but it isn't just what Band of Burns do, the tune sets are up there with some of the best Scottish ceilidh and Irish tune sets. A high recommendation for anyone into the bard's work or Scottish Trad.

Johnny Campbell