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Jimmy Young - Pipeworks CDTRAX 171 1999 Greentrax recordings

This beautifully produced album by Jimmy Young (of House Band and Rua fame) also features the not inconsiderable talents of lain MacDonald and Iain MacInnes. The album contains 11 tracks, the first 7 of which are entitled the “End of the Rainbow Suite” which is dedicated to the Rainbow Warrior and its crew who operate through Greenpeace in an attempt to save our beleaguered planet for future generations and also to Fernando, who lost his life in the struggle.

The idea behind the piece is Pipe Works which Jimmy explains as different types of pipes playing together. The album claims to be the first to have Northumbrian, Border and Scottish Smallpipes playing together and kicks off with an excellent blending of the instrument in the reel 'Rip the Callico', although we have to accept the balancing of the pipes in the studio. The effect is like nothing else and can make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. Really joyful and spot on playing.

Jimmy plays what he calls Northumbrian Pipes but as far as I can tell they are closed ended Scottish smallpipes in A, made by Colin Ross. Whatever, they sound excellent. The other musicians on this album reads like a who's who of the Scottish Traditional Music scene and include such as Ron Shaw, cello, Billy Ross, vocals, John Martin, fiddle, Fergus Mackenzie, Djembe, Davy Stuart, viola, and the list goes on.

The End of the Rainbow Suite is really seven episodic arrangements where you are asked to imagine various aspectsand adventures of the famous first Greenpeace ship. At all times theplaying is spotless and the more I played the album the more and more I enjoyed it.

Track 4 - Exodus reminded me of some of Hamish Moore's dark moody bluesy pieces, the combination of pipes and cello being very atmospheric. The cello arrangement by Ron Shaw is just so, so good!

Pacific Crossing starts as a laid back Breton   inspired   piece and could be a film sound track then becomes agitated...   The Arrival (In Aukland New Zealand) begins with a slow air 'Out-of-the- mist' then develops into another joyful explosion of pipes, cello, percussion. The key changes in this piece are exemplary and the final pipe harmony is really excit- ing and masterfully played.

The End of the Rainbow (not a happy one) begins with an elegiac pibroch type solo on pipes 'Burial at Sea', then is joined by another set of smallpipes to give a harmony effect like the regulators of Irish pipes. When the Border Pipes of lain MacInnes kick in, the three sets of pipes together are truly extraordinary. Like an Organ with overdrive.

Track 8 leaves the Rainbow Warrior with the Sandy Denny song 'Who knows where the time goes' sung by Denny Stanway. This beautifully arranged piece shows off Denny's lovely voice and yes, there are some smallpipes in there too.


Last Hoedown at the Tron (track 9) is a fast and furious duet on smallpipes with Jimmy and Ian MacDonald in session mood celebrating (or what) the last session at the long time folk venue of the Tron in Edinburgh.- I think it has now become one of those awful bland ‘Theme Pubs’ run by accountants. Track 10 is a Gaelic song ‘Braighe loch-iall’ sung by Billy Ross and accompanied on pipes by Jimmy, Mandola and Hurdy Gurdy by Davy Stuart, and bongos by Jim Mackintosh.

‘Denny's Air’, ends the album. This was composed by Jimmy for his wife in 1987 and is a beautiful, haunting, atmospheric piece which grows and swells as the viola and guitar are mixed in. Real love in this piece which makes you feel all tingly.

I thought the album cover to be a bit uninspired...but this is most certainly a case of not judging a book by its cover.

Altogether a great piece of work. Gordon Mooney.



Iain MacInnes - Tryst   CDTRAX182 Greentrax Recordings

Iain MacInnes should need no introduction to readers of this magazine as a broadcaster and accomplished player of Highland and Scottish smallpipes. He has made telling contribu- tions to, and featured on the recordings of, Smalltalk, Ossian, and the Tanahill Weavers. Now at last he has released a solo recording on the ever burgeoning Greentrax label (which in itself is generally a guarantee of quality Scottish music).

Quite simply it is a superb effort all round. The sets of tunes and arrangements are thoughtfully put together, the recording quality is excellent, the pipes sound superb (smallpipes in A, D, D, Highland pipes) and the playing is magnificent, Iain is also fea- tured on the whistle and has composed one of the tunes in the opening set. The tune is called 'Gilbert of the Antarctic' andthe accompanying booklet has a Monty Pythonesque photograph of the aforesaid Gilbert posed with pipes and kilt next to a penguin in the Antarctic. No doubt during his travels Iain will have played in some similarly strange lo- cations.

Apart from highlighting Iain's musicianship and feeling for a tune, there are telling contributions from some of his friends. Like many similar projects this is not strictly a solo recording as lain has been able to call upon the services of some of the leading traditional musicians in Scotland at the moment. While arrangements do not necessarily take care of themselves, with featured players of the calibre of Tony McManus, William Jackson, lain MacLeod, Aidan O'Rourke, James Mackintosh and Mairi Campbell, their contributions al- low the tunes themselves and Iain's pipes to shine through.

Whilst it is invidious to select individual tracks, those that caught my ear were the High- land Lassie set (featuring Highland pipes), the opening set of reels with assembled friends, an unaccompanied set of quicksteps on pipes in 'C', a slow air ("Vatersay Bay") featuring pipes in 'A' with William Jackson's harp and Tony McManus on guitar. But these are only a few of the myriad highlights. Space precludes listing them all.

To my mind this is a recording that makes  the reviewer's life easy. It is a recording that transcends pigeon- holing as being of purely specialised piping interest. Beinga mere Northumbrian piper I'm less than qualified to comment on the intricacies of open chanter technique, or   become   embroiled in the great debate on Highland and Lowland styles. However, what we have here are wonderfultunes, treated with respect, resulting in great music superbly played by all concerned. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Graham Dixon.