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World Music Network RGNET1235CD

Part of a series of Rough Guides, this comprises an interactive CD including a selection of 16 tracks sampling the best of contemporary Scottish folk song (or near contemporary – there’s a couple of tracks dating from 1984 [Jim Reid and Ossian respectively]). As a taster this is a really well balanced selection, showcasing the likes of Ishbel MacAskill, Heather Heywood, Aly and Phil, Battlefield Band, Karine Polwart and Julie Fowlis and so on in all their glory. I can’t vouch for the other Rough Guide CDs in the series, which cover subjects as diverse as Desert Blues, Salsa Divas, Russian Gypsies and Arabic Lounge (maybe the last one is more relevant to the DIY market) but this one certainly has been carefully selected to introduce those unacquainted with our traditional songs to the best we can offer.

The interactive aspects of the CD cannot be accessed without interrupting the music, and the website that you are linked to, when you navigate it to try and elucidate more info, sadly tends to suck you further into the obscure hinterland of ‘associated’ world music rather than what you were hoping to seek.

The bonus CD by Maggie MacInnes is an event in itself and lifts the entire package into a different league altogether – if you are able to appreciate a full album’s worth of Gaelic song. I freely admit that I used to love Gaelic song as an ingredient rather than a full musical banquet (despite my Gran winning medals for singing it).  I now realise just what I’ve been missing. Thanks Maggie.

The packaging is fab by the way – I just prefer the music to the weblinked guff.

Grem Devlin

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The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 86 of The Living Tradition magazine.