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VARIOUS ARTISTS - Traditions Of Tiree: Sguaban A Týr An E˛rna

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Traditions Of Tiree: Sguaban A Týr An E˛rna
Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX9027

Songs and stories of battles, emigration, voyages, witches, hangings, the cruelty of the Clearances, Hogmanay and life in Canada comprise this record of Tiree’s oral and social history. There are children’s rhymes, legends, elegies and hymns. There are tales of the shipwreck survivor who pulled an injured companion with his teeth, and of St Columba losing a boat, a song of the Great Tea Race of 1866, and a lament for two sons killed in the Peninsular Wars. Natural and unadorned, islanders’ voices recall a culture forever lost, conveying its landscapes and seascapes, joys and sorrows, hard work and community.

Edited by Margaret A Mackay and Donald E Meek, this Greentrax album continues their long sequence of recordings from The School of Scottish Studies Sound Archives. Almost all the content is in Gaelic. However, the package comes with a lavish booklet containing copious notes on the songs and their histories, and with a full bibliography. Lyrics are included, with translations which retain the emotive beauty of the language.

The various solo singers are all unaccompanied, and two pipe tunes are included – one being the Tiree Bridal Song. The editors aim to give the impression of a ceilidh, and they do succeed in capturing the atmosphere of long-gone communities and their way of life.

One for the purists, Traditions Of Tiree is an echo from history, allowing us to hear, simply and genuinely, how islanders tried to make sense of the many dramatic events of their times through song and story.

www.greentrax.com

Jim McCourt


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This album was reviewed in Issue 115 of The Living Tradition magazine.