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Battlefield Band
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1

The Battlefield Band's Threads is dominated by traditional material. Thus it's a reminder of those heady days in Scotland a quarter century ago when the formerly separate strains of bagpipe music, dance music, and ballad m...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Battlefield Band
Title: Threads
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Temple Records
Original Release Date: 11/13/1995
Re-Release Date: 11/18/2008
Album Type: Import
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop
Styles: Traditional Folk, British & Celtic Folk, Celtic, Europe, British Isles
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 096045006121

The Battlefield Band's Threads is dominated by traditional material. Thus it's a reminder of those heady days in Scotland a quarter century ago when the formerly separate strains of bagpipe music, dance music, and ballad music were suddenly united by progressive-folk groups who could do it all. Threads is no nostalgic look at old times, however, for the Battlefield Band's current fiddler, John McCusker, wasn't even born when the great Scottish folk renaissance of the '70s began. In fact, Alan Reid is the only original member still in the band, and his three mates give such Scottish standards as "Sleepy Maggie," "McPherson's Lament," "Snow on the Hills," and "The Indian Lass" a vigorous shaking that makes them well worth hearing again. --Geoffrey Himes

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CD Reviews

A revitalised Battlefield playing at their best
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Review of BATTLEFIELD BAND - "Threads" (1995, Temple Records, COMD2061; also Flying Fish in USA.)I admit I approached this new Battlefield album with reservations. It's been some years since I've heard anything new from the band and over a decade since I've seen them live in Australia. In that time they've lost two apparently key band members in Brian McNeill and Dougie Pincock. And during that same period contemporary Scottish folk has taken significant steps forward. Witness what Wolfstone managed to do with the same Dougie Pincock on highland pipes and a dedicated bass/percussion section on "The Chase". Or at the more traditional end check the delicate yet strong melodic work of William Jackson and Ossian. And somewhere in between note the marvellous blend of new rhythms and old traditions in the labours of Capercaillie.In short my suspicion was that Battlefield Band minus Messrs McNeill and Pincock may have had their day. I am happy to say my fears were groundless. This is a revitalised Battlefield playing some of their best material ever. The opening trio of tracks sets the pace. First up there's a medley of reels that enables piper Iain MacDonald to show just how good he is (and on flute and whistle as well as pipes). Then there's a strong Alan Reid song, followed by a delightful couple of tunes - one trad. and the other a beautiful John McCusker original.And here I have to pause and shake my head in wonder. This John McCusker looks barely more than a teenager. Yet he's somehow managed to step into the shoes of Brian McNeill, one of the finest multi-instrumentalists and songwriters about, and done it with flair. Not only does McCusker play five instruments and sing, he also writes. Where most new band members could be expected to be contribute only a tune or two in their early days with a band, McCusker scores several, and nearly steals the show in the process. His musicianship and sense of melody make you wonder what's in store when he gets a few years and a bit ! more life experience under his belt.That some of McCusker's best tunes are written in honour of other young folk performers augurs well for the future of traditional music. The verve of the set that starts with "Simon Thoumire's Jig" is such that end comes far too soon. This must become a favourite in live sets.Another change for the band is their judicious use of guest musicians James MacKintosh and "Qwee" MacArthur on percussion and bass on several tracks. A decade ago it was "interesting" to have Alan Reid programming drums and bass on his synth. In the '90's it would not have done. The whole tone and fulness of Battlefield's sound is enhanced by these guests (as indeed by Alison Kinnaird's cello on a track or two.) Don't expect full drums and thumping electric bass - Battlefield's approach is still some distance from that of Wolfstone. But prepare to be pleasantly surprised by MacKintosh's "celtic conga".Are there any weak points? I was slightly disappointed by the closing track - an arrangement of the trad. song "The Indian Lass". Any song given definitive treatment by Nic Jones must be difficult to cover, but I thought Battlefield's arrangement a bit flat and Alistair Russell's voice too heavy with vibrato. Some may also be daunted by the number of other traditional songs like "MacPherson's Lament" and "The Weary Whaling Ground", but I thought these were embued with that same freshness that characterises the whole album. Battlefield Band often tour the USA, Australia and other parts of the world. If "Threads" is any indication of the direction they are taking, the shows will be brilliant. If you can't make a concert, get the album. Och! Why not do both!!Reviewed by Peter Grant, Hobart, Tasmania, AUSTRALIA."