Gordon Mooney 1983
Julian Goodacre finds a ground-breaking recording amongst his collection of old cassettes

After years of working in a dusty atmosphere, my workshop stereo has finally done me the favour of refusing to play any CDs. I have used this as an opportunity to play through some of the hundreds of cassette tapes that I have collected or recorded over the years, some of which even had their cellophane wrappers still on. The most enjoyable tapes I plan to burn onto CDs, which is a time-consuming process.  And many of them are getting thrown out. I have to be strict with myself!  But I have discovered all sorts of gems that I have not listened to for decades.
One of these unlistened-to gems is ‘The Border Reiver’, by Gordon Mooney, produced by Keith Proud and Richard Butler on the Border Keep Label (BK009). He recorded this in 1983, the year of the founding of the LBPS. All the tracks are unaccompanied. Side A he plays on ‘Lowland Smallpipes’, side B is on Border Pipes. I believe that his Border Pipes were the set he made himself which had distinctive sounding drones that he told me he made from ‘shunt poles’.
I bought my copy in 1985 and can still recall the excitement of listening to it. In those days it sounded so new and different.  It is easy to forget that over the subsequent years pipe makers have developed such a range of different sounding Scottish bellows pipes, and pipers too have developed different styles of playing on them, that the modern piper is accustomed to hearing a whole variety of sounds.
Listening to this tape again in 2012 I am amazed at his choice of tunes; with one exception all the tunes he was playing were Border tunes that he had researched.  He had spent years in the National Library to unearth these tunes; Gordon was a real pioneer of these pipes and of the music.
I mentioned this tape to him about 20 years ago and he was apologetic about it and muttered something about burning all his copies. But I feel he has nothing to be ashamed about. He was playing well and his instruments sound good.  And his repertoire could not have been more appropriate; 98% for Border Content!
Obviously it is no longer available, and I suspect that Gordon will not thank me for such a late review of it. But I think it is important that this tape does not go unforgotten. It was an early ‘foundation stone’ for our Society. I am sure many of the more ‘mature’ (ie older!) members will have been inspired by this tape. I certainly was.

Side A. Lowland Small Pipes
1.    Oe’r the Border
2.    Souters o’ Selkirk:  Willie stays long at the fair.
3.    Cumha na h-oige (Lament for the maiden).
4.    Go to Berwick, Johnny: Mount your baggage: Jockey said to Jenny.
5.    Jinglan John: How she’ll ne’er be guided: Jenny Nettles.
6.    Mary Scott, the flower of Yarrow.
7.    Woo’ed an’ married an’ a’

Side B. Border Pipes
1.    Soor plums o’ Gallashiels
2.    Hey ca’ thru: Wee Totum Fogg: Geld him lasses, geld him.
3.    Chevy Chase: Lassie gae milk on my cow hill.
4.    John cock up your beaver: Follow her o’er the border: Drops of Brandy.
5.    Stumpie: Linkumdoddie (Blue Bonnets): Coffee and tea (Jamie Allen’s Fancy).
6.    Hoop her and gird her: Jacky Latin  Sleeve notes
“Gordon Mooney lives in the old burgh town of Linlithgow, West Lothian and is known to make raids into the Border country.  In 1958, aged seven, he began studies in Highland Piping with P.M. Gates of Edinburgh Police Pipe Band, and has over the years played in several pipe bands and competed in solo competitions. In 1978, he became interested in the bellows blown Lowland and Border Bagpipes and began to research the music and tradition of these instruments.  This lead, in 1982, to publications of some of his research and, with other pipers, to the formation of the Lowland and Border Bagpipe Society.  With one exception, the tunes on this recording are traditional to the Lowland and Border, having been played by the old pipers from time out of mind.”

Julian Goodacre 23rd November 2012