Posts Tagged ‘martyn bennett’

The Songlines Essential 10: Scottish Albums

Posted on September 17th, 2014 in News, Recent posts by .


Words by Jo Frost

On the eve of the Scottish independence vote, what better time to highlight some of our current favourite Scottish albums? 

Martyn Bennett – Grit (Real World Gold, 2014)
Recently reissued including two previously unreleased tracks, this album by the late young Scottish maverick is a testament to his spirit and untamed musical approach to mixing up traditional Gaelic songs with techno beats. This is an album to get you bouncing around the kitchen, try out the track on this issue’s covermount CD.

Breabach – Ùrlar (Breabach Records, 2013)
Recently featured as part of Boomerang (in #101), together with indigenous Maori and Aboriginal musicians, the young quintet have deservedly proved themselves worthy recipients of the Scots Trad Music Award for Best Group. Their combination of new and traditional material, bagpipes and vocals has proved a winning formula. Reviewed in #98.

Capercaillie – At the Heart of it All (Vertical Records, 2013)
The doyens of the Scottish trad scene, who celebrated their 30th anniversary at this year’s Celtic Connections festival. Lead singer Karen Matheson and husband Donald Shaw recently featured in the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony, proving they’re still very much at the forefront of Scottish music. Reviewed in #96.

Duncan Chisholm – Live at Celtic Connections (Copperfish, 2013)
It is very difficult to single out one album from Chisholm’s superb Strathglass Trilogy (Affric, Farrar, Canaich), so instead try this live album of the fiddler performing tracks from all three albums together with his band, at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery during Celtic Connections. Coincidentally Duncan Chisholm also features on Benedetti’s latest album, see p36. Reviewed in #98. 

Julie Fowlis – Gach Sgeul – Every Story (Machair Records, 2014)
A Songlines cover star earlier this year (#99), the Gaelic singer also features on Benedetti’s album, performing a traditional waulking song. Fowlis’ latest release stays true to the very heart of the Gaelic tradition and it’s a beautiful collection of songs, showcasing her talent in puirt à beul – the incredibly fast ‘mouth music’ vocal style from the Highlands. Reviewed in #99.

Lau – Race the Loser (Reveal Records, 2012)
OK, admittedly they’re only two-thirds Scottish but accordionist Martin Green is practically a Scot, having lived north of the border for some time. The trio excel when it comes to their thrilling live performances, winning them numerous Radio 2 Folk Awards. This latest offering is as innovative and exciting as their debut, Lightweights & Gentlemen. Reviewed in #88.

Karine Polwart – Traces (Hegri Records, 2012)
There’s something about Polwart’s understated yet poignant singing that really hooks you in. Beautiful melodies and incisive lyrics on songs inspired by subjects as diverse as the Occupy movement protests to Donald Trump’s controversial golf course plans. One of Scotland’s finest contemporary songwriters, Polwart also gets brownie points for her love of birds – Hegri, the name of her label, is the Gaelic word for heron. Reviewed in #87.

Patsy Reid – The Brightest Path (Classy Trad Records, 2014)
The young fiddler cut her teeth with Breabach, but since leaving the group, she’s become one of the UK’s most in-demand musicians, with appearances in the Cecil Sharp Project, VAMM and Kathryn Tickell’s Northumbrian Voices project. Her latest solo release sees her mixing up both self-written and traditional material and also showcases her fine vocal skills too. Reviewed in #99.

Salsa Celtica – The Tall Islands (Discos Leon, 2014)
And now for something completely different – Scottish ceilidh meets Latino salsa. The pioneering group started off as a bunch of mates jamming in a club in Edinburgh (see Beginner’s Guide in #98) and since then they’ve got audiences up and dancing around the world, most recently in Colombia where they made their debut appearance earlier this year. An album guaranteed to get you in a party mood. Reviewed in #99.

Various Artists – Transatlantic Sessions 6 (Whirlie Records, 2014)
Again, not a strictly purely Scottish affair, but the incredibly successful concept of bringing a range of leading folk musicians from the UK and Ireland together with a host of talent from across the pond was masterminded by Shetland fiddler Aly Bain. Plus the recording sessions take place in the Highlands. If you’re a fan of the BBC TV series, then you’ll love this album – the latest release that highlights why the series is the best music programme on TV and has been such a hit. Reviewed in #99.

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Album Review | Top Of The World | Martyn Bennett – Grit

Posted on September 11th, 2014 in Recent posts, Reviews by .


Words by Billy Rough

 150A rock-solid testament to a great lost talent.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 11 years since Martyn Bennett’s Grit was first released. The last album recorded before his untimely death in 2005, it exhibited the exceptional promise and talent that this extraordinary musician so effortlessly exuded. Take for instance the opener ‘Move’, which combines fragments of traveller singer Sheila Stewart’s version of ‘Moving On Song’ layered over an unrepentant and infectious dance track. The fusion reinvigorates the original track and reinforces its topicality and vitality. Or perhaps ‘Nae Regrets’, which sees the inimitable Dundee voice of Annie Watkins matched to that of Édith Piaf in a bombastic celebration with a subtle Eastern flavour. Since 2003 we’ve not only lost Bennett but also that great voice of contemporary Scots song Michael Marra, whose authoritative tone provides such a petrous narration on ‘Liberation’.

The re-release includes two bonus tracks: ‘Sky Blue’, a remix of a Peter Gabriel track, and ‘Mackay’s Memoirs’, Bennett’s final recorded work. The pleasures of Grit will always be bittersweet, but it was and remains a remarkable, thrilling and wondrous piece of work. It’s Martyn Bennett who we must thank for much of the resurgence of traditional Scottish music today. This CD should be in everybody’s collection.

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Evelyn Glennie’s playlist and 10 best new releases

Posted on August 29th, 2014 in Recent posts by .


The October 2014 (#103) issue includes our regular Top of the World CD with ten tracks from the world’s finest new releases. The CD also includes five tracks selected by pioneering percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, who discusses her choices with Simon Broughton.

The Top of the World CD includes brand new tracks from Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Afrobeat pioneer Orlando Julius, influential Scottish artist Martyn Bennett, and many more.

Pick up your copy here, at selected UK HMV stores, selected WHSmiths and all good record retailers. Check out this issue’s top tracks:



Preservation Hall Jazz Band ‘That’s It!’ from That’s It  (Sony Legacy)

The eight members of PHJB may employ a lighter, more melodic touch, but the brass band veterans still know how to blow up a storm.

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Chłopcy Kontra Basia ‘Jerzy!’ from Oj Tak! (Riverboat Records)

The Krakow-based trio, whose name means ‘Boys against Basia,’ encapsulate the tension of folkish vocals and a sprinkling of Polish rhythms, and place it all in a jazzy idiom.

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Orlando Julius with The Heliocentrics ‘Jaiyede Afro’ from Jaiyede Afro (Strut)

Fans of Fela Kuti, Ebo Taylor and others of their stripe will welcome this fine reminder of this master’s abilities as one of the pioneers of Afrobeat.

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Aynur ‘Yar Melek’ from Hevra (Together) (Network Median)

The collaboration with Spanish flamenco guitarist and arranger Javier Limón allows the listener to focus on Aynur’s voice: a powerful but subtle instrument with rich colours.

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Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar ‘The Call and Answer’ from The Call (Fellside Recordings)

The BBC Radio Two Folk Award-winning duo gather an intelligent collection of tunes for this album that proves the startling amount of young folk talent all around the UK.

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Richard Galliano ‘Nego Forró’ from Richard Galliano au Brésil (Milan)

Brazilian master accordionist Richard Galliano curates an intelligent and inspired introduction to forró, the soulful country music of the Brazilian nordeste.

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Rachel Newton ‘ Queen of Elfan’s Nourice’ from Changeling (Shadowside Records)

Newton focuses on the rich loam of myth and folklore concerning faeries and the metaphors of the changeling in the Scottish and British tradition.

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Jerry Douglas ‘Panhandle Rag’ from Three Bells (Rounder Records)

This albums tosses together three of the greatest dobro players on the planet for a playlist of country songs, Tin Pan Alley and gospel that is self-assured, poignantly paced and deftly swung.



Martyn Bennett ‘Blackbird’ from Grit (Real World Gold)

Nine years after Bennett’s untimely death, the album still exhibits the exceptional promise and talent that this extraordinary musician so effortlessly exuded.

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Bac Lieu Ensemble ‘Luu Thuy Truong’ from The Don Ca Tai Tu: Chamber Music of the Mekong Delta (Inédit/Maison des Cultures du Monde)

Each musician in the ensemble performs elaborately ornamented melodies that provide a crisp and sharp sound to this compelling musical form from Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.

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Plus Evelyn Glennie’s playlist


Dulsori ‘Drum Sinawe’ from Eternal Memory (Music Zoo Entertainment)

“Dulsori are one of Korea’s leading contemporary folk groups. Korean percussion is “so physical and they are throwing themselves into music and performance.”




Rhythms of the City ‘Ilu Ayê’ from Rhythms of the City (F-ire)

Rhythms of the City are a British group that play the real street style music of Brazilian Carnaval, just as Glennie would have experienced when she participated in Rio in 1989.



Various Artists ‘Senggot’ from Java – The Jasmine Isle: Gamelan Music (Nonesuch Records)

In this Javanese music it’s the cross rhythms between drum and chimes that makes it interesting. “I love its gold-like sound – very resonant.”

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Lusi & Soria EyitukKatajjaq‘ from Canada: Inuit Games and Songs (UNESCO/Auvids)

It was a concert with Tanya Tagaq at Carnegie Hall that introduced Glennie to Inuit music. This is traditional katajjaq, which underlies much of Tagaq’s extraordinary music.

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Evelyn Glennie with the Taipei Chinese Orchestra ‘Heading For’ from Ecstatic Drumbeat (BIS Records)

The Taipei Chinese Orchestra is like a symphony orchestra of Chinese instruments accompanying Glennie in the final movement of the concerto.

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Listen to a bonus track from Evelyn Glennie’s Playlist by Philip Glass on this issue’s podcast.

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Real World Gold to re-issue Martyn Bennett’s final album

Posted on April 8th, 2014 in News, Recent posts by .


Words by Greg Nye

Martyn Bennett’s last record, Grit, is to be re-issued by Real World Gold on May 19 to coincide with the opening of GRIT: The Martyn Bennett Story, a theatre production which will commemorate the Scottish musician’s life and career.

A talented fiddler and bagpipe player, Martyn Bennett was renowned for his daring and innovative contributions to the Celtic fusion genre. The Scottish musician’s final album, Grit, combined traditional Scottish folk music with expansive electronica and featured an array of talented vocalists including Jeannie Robertson, her daughter Lizzie and Gaelic folk singer Flora McNeil. The Real World Gold series re-issue of Grit is due for release on May 19 and will include two previously unreleased tracks: a remix of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sky Blue’ and ‘Mackay’s Memoirs’; Bennett’s last recording which was sadly completed the day after he lost his battle with cancer, aged 33.

This re-issue will therefore provide a moving testament to the life and career of one of Scotland’s most talented and innovative musicians.

Click here to pre-order the album.

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