Saturday 18 December 2021

Whistledown: The Ale Is Dear (1989)

01 Ye Jacobites
02 The Harbour of Mallaig
03 Stirling Castle/Soldier's Joy/Banjo Breakdown
04 The Green Fields of France
05 The Brolum/The Ale is Dear
06 McPhersons Rant
07 The Wild Geese Flee
08 Home Sweet Home/Statan Island Hornpipe
09 Mist Covered Mountains
10 The Yew Tree
11 The Dark Island/Corkhill/Paddy's Leather Breeches

In the 1970s and 1980s, cassettes were a cheaper way of groups to release albums, and hundreds of Scottish groups did just that. Sometimes the quality was poor to begin with, and the cassette format didn't raise the standard at all, often quite the reverse. Nevertheless, these tapes are often the only evidence of the more obscure singers and bands which existed. An example of this is Whistledown's cassette from 1989, which is not the best quality, but good enough to get an idea of what they were about.

Whistledown were a folk group about which I know very little. Members of the band were Neil Campbell (guitar, banjo, vocals), Roddy Ross (vocals, whistle, bagpipes, bass), John Slaven (fiddle, mandolin) Bruce Hope (vocals, mandolin, bass) and Kenny Johnston (guitar, vocals). They formed in about 1986 and this cassette was released in 1989. In 1995 Slaven moved to Aberdeenshire and played with the Whigmaleerie Ceilidh Band. The last time I heard about Whistledown was in 2006, and the band were still on the go with Ross, Campbell, Hope and Neil's daughter Fiona Campbell (vocals and fiddle); they had just recorded a new CD.

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