Folk Scene: Albannach, Dick Gaughan, and Ossian


This week, listening to: the Celtic tribal rock of Albannach’s 2007 album Eye of the Storm, master guitarist Dick Gaughan’s 1981 classic Handful of Earth, and a forgotten Scottish gem from the 1970s by Ossian.

This week, listening to: the Celtic tribal rock of Albannach’s 2007 album Eye of the Storm, master guitarist Dick Gaughan’s 1981 classic Handful of Earth, and a forgotten Scottish gem from the 1970s by Ossian.


Albannach: ‘Eye of the Storm’ (2007)

Albannach (meaning Scottish or Scotsman), the finest Celtic-tribal rock album ever made – piping hot music by the finest of pipers ever to make a sheep’s stomach wail, driven by warlike clan drumming… plus a new classic Scottish ballad.

‘The Uprising’, opens the album – the execution of William Wallace asking the question, ‘Did you ever know what a hero you became?’.  The tempo moves up into tribal dance groove – you can dance to these this New Year at any age.  Onto the wonderful ballad song, ‘Scotland is her name’ – a quite stirring rendition expounding the injustice of the Scottish condition through the medium of singer Jacquie Holland.  Straight onto another awakening of clan tribal spirit, the danceable, ‘Alexander’s welcome’ – a party not to be missed.  Jacquie Holland ends the album, finishing with the ballad, ‘Valhalla’s Feast’, lamenting the loss of heroes – the album stirs the hero in all of us.

Track: (1) The Uprising (2) Rampant’s Revenge (3) Auld Nick’s A Piper (4) Scotland Is Her Name  (5) Alexander’s Welcome (6) Atholl Express (7) Corpse Foot Jigs (8) Rebel King (9) The Gael (10) Pictavia’s Pride (11) Valhalla’s Feast (12) Fallen Heroes

One of the best folk-rock albums ever made – available on download at albannachmusic

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Bonus: ‘Bare Arsed Bandits’ from  the 2011 Albannach Album, ‘Bareknuckle Pipes & Drums’

Albannach member talking about the Rebel King books

Dick Gaughan: ‘Handful of Earth’ (1981)

Most listeners have probably heard of Dick Gaughan, former guitarist/singer with folk-rock group Five Hand Reel, and probably one of the finest guitarists on the planet.  Dick Guaghan recorded a masterpiece with ‘Handful of Earth’.  The album contains songs about workers’ rights and nature and whether by design or accident deals with the theme of ‘struggle’.

We begin with ‘Erin Go Brath’, a folk-rock Five Hand Reel style of song. Straight after, we meet the beautiful ‘Now Westlin’ Winds’ contrasting the pastoral and the picturesque of nature with the ‘slaughterin’ guns’ of man.  Dick, holds the banner of ‘Workers’ rights’’ up high in the stirring songs ‘World Turned Upside Down’ and ‘Workers’ Song’.

Conflict of a different nature comes in ‘The Snows They Melt The Soonest’ (covered by Sting in his Christmas album but not a patch on Dick’s version) – a remarkably intimate rendition of this beautiful song – here he struggles with that all too common difficulty, a woman’s rejection. 
The album’s last song, his beautiful reworking of ‘Both Sides of the Tweed’, sees Dick as a man who understands the human spirit will surmount struggle and difficulty and win  – ‘let friendship and honour unite’.

Track : (1) Erin Go Bragh (2) Now Westlin Winds (3) Craigie Hill (4) The World Turned Upside Down (5)   The Snows They Melt The Soonest (6) Lough Erne / First Kiss At Parting (7) Scojun Waltz / Randers Hopsa (8) Song For Ireland (9) Workers’ Song (10) Both Sides the Tweed

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Album can be heard on spotify for those with spotify downloaded onto their computers

Bonus: Five Hand Reel, Freedom Come all Ye


Ossian: ‘OSSIAN’ (1977)

Ossian formed in 1976, named after the legendary 3rd century bard, recorded this largely forgotten gem from 1977 when folk music found new life – Ossian changed labels just after recording it.  Their first album, some say their finest but least remembered, is Scottish folk with a lowlands feel to it.  After this album the band went on to record a series of albums but their first album has something…

An album largely forgotten amidst Ossian’s work – music made by people with talent at a period when folk artists were searching for their roots – time travelling to times past.

Traditional songs performed with a rare intimacy – playing in the room where you are reading a book or eating your evening meal.   There is an agrarian theme running through the album (not surprising with 4 Robert burns songs including ‘Brose and Butter’,  ‘Let Me in this Ae Nicht’) – local life, simple life and personal intimacy most realized in the touching, beautiful Gaelic song, OIDHCHE MHATH LEIBH (Goodnight To You).   It is unfortunately not possible to let readers listen to many tracks but those available are linked – this is due to the inexplicably forgotten nature of this wonderful recording.

Track: (1) The Corncrake – I Hae A Wife O Ma Ain (2) Sitting In the Stern of A Boat (3) Ma Rovin Eye (4) O MO DHUTHAICH (Oh My Country) (5) 72nd Highlanders Farewell Tae Aberdeen – The Favourite Dram (6) Ae Fond Kiss (7) Brose & Butter (8) Music of Spey (9) Let Me In This Ae Night (10)  Spootaskerry – Willow Kishie – Simon’s Wart (11) OIDHCHE MHATH LEIBH

OSSIAN by Ossian available at springthyme music