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Cheerygroove Records CHEERY006

It was my huge pleasure to review Findlay’s 2015 debut solo album in these pages. VIP: Very Interesting Persons was an album that broke new ground for me, and one which I could safely say had a brave and imaginative concept at its core. A concept that was quite unlike anything that I had encountered in well over a quarter of a century reviewing CDs. In the last two years, I have occasionally pondered on how Findlay could follow that...!! Would he come up with a VIP vol 2...? Or would he have too much nous to typecast himself so early, ploughing that particularly delightful furrow?

Well, now we have the answer. As you might have guessed, he chose the second option: deciding upon a very different kind of album. It is a hymn of praise to his adopted home city of Glasgow, a city I love dearly, and briefly used to work in.

The CD is most attractively packaged with a pink and sandstone red coloured theme which runs through the photos on the CD cover and also through the liner booklet... a most appropriate colour scheme when you consider how red sandstone is so synonymous with the old architecture of that great city.

And that is not all that links you here to the Glasgow of yesteryear. Wonderfully, at the end of track 6 and the start of 7, we have that long missed crackling noise of a vinyl LP (perhaps placed here to signify the imaginary “turning over” of the record). It proved to be like a Proustian madeleine cake: it worked like magic. For after all, this album is in part a telling of a “lost Glasgow” story, and that scratching of the needle gave it the necessary verisimilitude of “times past”. A masterstroke from producer Boo Hewerdine.

The songs are partly self-penned, and partly chosen from the back catalogue of some of Scotland’s finest (like Blue Nile, Hamish Imlach and Michael Marra) and contemporary numbers from Emma Pollock and Julia Doogan. Napier’s voice is in complete command: always pitch-perfect and never strained. His guitar work also convinces. Everything goes swimmingly apart from Cod Liver Oil And The Orange Juice, which so misses the Imlach knowing “nod and a wink” and gravelly growl. Still, Findlay delivers it with brio, and even though I have heard the song a zillion times, I could not help still laughing out loud at some of those zinger lines, e.g. Hairy Mary “Oh-ho the flooer o’ the Gorbals”; “are ye dancin?”?/”Oh no, it’s just the way I’m staunin”; “Well then, Mary, yer one in a million”/Oh-ho, so’s yer chances!”...etc.

At a slightly stingy 38 minutes running time, I would have liked him to squeeze in an extra track or two, but hey, I ought to be thankful for what we got here. An unqualified success: a paean to Glasgow that would have been worthy of an Iain Mackintosh, Hamish Imlach or a Matt McGinn in their pomp... and also would have been music to soothe the souls of such diverse Glaswegians in its history, as Jimmy Reid, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Jimmy Logan.

One final point: I note that Findlay had forsaken Glasgow to use The Mother Lode Recording Studio to lay down these tracks. I mention it, because it’s not only not in Glasgow, but is actually situated a goodly distance away, on the Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border. And I wondered: why the choice? But only for a nanosecond. And then it struck me: how appropriate that choice is, since Glasgow is one of the least insular cities I know.

Dai Woosnam

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This album was reviewed in Issue 121 of The Living Tradition magazine.