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Scotland

Silly Wizard

Silly Wizard: Caledonia's Hardy Sons

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  • Caledonia's Hardy Sons
    • 1978 - Highway SHY 7004 LP
    • 1980 - Shanachie 79015 LP
    • 1989 - Shanachie 79015 CD
  • Side One
    1. Mo Chuachag Laghach (My Kindly Sweetheart)
    2. The Isla Waters (Stewart/Hadden)
    3. The Twa Brithers
    4. The Auld Pipe Reel & The Brolum
    5. Glasgow Peggy
  • Side Two
    1. Monymusk Lads
    2. The Ferryland Sealer
    3. Fhear A Bhata (The Boatman)
    4. Jack Cunningham's Farewell to Benbecula (Phil Cunningham) & Sweet Molly
    5. Broom O' the Cowdenknowes

  • Silly Wizard
    • Andy Stewart: Lead Vocals, Tenor Banjo, Mandola, Mandolin
    • Bob Thomas: Guitar, Mandola
    • Gordon Jones: Guitar, Bodhrán, Bouzouki, Mandola, Vocals
    • Johnny Cunningham: Fiddle, Viola, Mandolin, Mandola, Bouzouki, Vocals
    • Martin Hadden: Bass, Harmonium, Vocals
    • Phil Cunningham: Accordian, Whistle, Harmonium, Synthesiser, Vocals
  • Credits
    • Produced by Silly Wizard and John Zollman
    • Recorded and remixed at Zella Recording Studios, Birmingham
    • Recording Engineers: Johnny Haynes and Alec Price
    • Remix Engineer: Johnny Haynes
    • Song Notes by Silly Wizard
    • Photograph: Marianne Moser
    • Cover Design: John Crane
    • Our thanks to John and Sue Zollman and Mrs. Betty Zollman for their help in the making of this record; and to John Ramsay and Yamaha P.A. for sound on the road.
    • 1980 SHANACHIE RECORDS CORP.
    • 1978 Highway Records Ltd.

Sleeve Notes

My idea of a good folk band is one that can balance their vocal and instrumental talents without letting one side dominate the other. To exercise good taste and still use all of their talents to advantage, when they possess the combined expertise of Silly Wizard, is the mark of collective brilliance. Their playing can flow effortlessly from the delicately woven filigree of song accompaniment to the strong, driving pulse of dance music.

The atmosphere that they generate during the narrative ballad with the blend of voice and instrument, is an important part of their undoubted appeal. Add to all of this their sympathy with the music's origin and tradition and you have the exception rather than the rule among folk bands in Britain.

I'm sure that the fact that each member of Silly Wizard is still developing individually will mean that their input will continue to build on the firm base of sensitive and powerful originality found on this record.

ARCHIE FISHER


MO CHUACHAG LAGHACH (My Kindly Sweetheart) (trad arr. Silly Wizard)
A fine two-part reel from the North-West Highlands of Scotland, which Phil learnt from Scottish fiddler Neil Mormon.

Phil Cunningham - Accordian, Whistle
Andy Stewart - Tenor Banjo, Mandolin
Bob Thomas - Guitar
Johnny Cunningham - Fiddle
Gordon Jones - Guitar, Bodhrán
Martin Hadden - Bass


THE ISLA WATERS (Stewart/Madden)
This song was composed by Martin and Andy around a fragment sung by Andy's grandfather, who was born in Glen Isla in 1900. It tells of a crofter whose life was made difficult by the fact that his local "ale hoose" was across the river from his croft, but miles from the nearest bridge. Crossing to the inn on stepping-stones was easy enough in daylight when sober, but returning after a night of song and powerful whisky was an entirely different matter.

Andy Stewart - Vocals
Bob Thomas - Guitar
Phil Cunningham - Accordian
Johnny Cunningham - Fiddle, Viola
Bob Thomas - Guitar
Gordon Jones - Guitar
Martin Hadden - Bass


THE TWA BRITHERS (trad arr. Silly Wizard)
A ballad still sung in Perthshire about internal family conflict which leads to the "accidental" death of the elder son at the hands of his younger step-brother. With his dying breath he curses his step-mother who, he realises, is responsible for plotting his death.

Andy Stewart - Lead Vocals
Phil Cunningham - Whistle.
Martin Hadden - Harmonium, Bass
Johnny Cunningham -Bouzouki, Vocals
Gordon Jones - Guitar, Vocals
Bob Thomas - Guitar


THE AULD PIPE REEL/THE BROLUM (trad arr. Silly Wizard)
These two Highland pipe tunes are both driving four-part reels. The first is a little-known reel, but the latter is wry popular in Scottish music circles.

Johnny Cunningham - Fiddle
Phil Cunningham - Accordian, Whistle
Martin Hadden - Bass
Gordon Jones - Guitar
Bob Thomas - Guitar
Andy Stewart - Tenor Banjo


GLASGOW PEGGY (trad arr. Silly Wizard)
This version of the ballad was collated by Andy and retains the story while using, we think, the best verses available from other versions. It tells the story of a highly successful abduction of a young lady by Lord Donald MacDonald of Skye.

Andy Stewart - Vocals
Johnny Cunningham - Mandolin, Fiddle
Bob Thomas - Guitar
Martin Hadden - Bass
Phil Cunninghan - Synthesiser


MONYMUSK LADS (trad arr. Silly Wizard)
An Aberdeenshire song describing a young man's visit to his serving girl sweetheart's bedroom. He is discovered by the lady of the house who runs outraged to the Laird and berates a social system which allows servants to indulge in such pastimes, while gentlewomen must abstain (or at least use more discretion). The young man is thrown out, but intends to return once everyone has gone back to bed.

Andy Stewart - Vocals
Bob Thomas - Guitar
Johnny Cunningham - Fiddle
Gordon Jones - Mandola
Martin Hadden - Bass
Phil Cunningham - Harmonium, Whistle


THE FERRYLAND SEALER (trad arr. Silly Wizard)
This song, to be found in Peacock's "Songs of the Newfoundland Outports", gives a detailed description of a sealing voyage of the time. The Scots were heavily involved in the early settlement of Canada and in the sealing industry. Ferryland itself is a small village on the east coast of the Avalon Peninsula to the south of St. Johns, and Cape Broyle lies just to the north.

Gordon Jones - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Bob Thomas - Guitar
Andy Stewart - Mandola, Vocals
Johnny Cunningham - Fiddle
Phil Cunningham - Accordian, Vocals
Martin Hadden - Bass


FHEAR A BHATA (The Boatman) (trad arr. Silly Wizard)
A song known all over the Highlands and Inlands of Scotland telling of a young girl's love for a man whom she could never hope to keep. The version Andy sings is a translation from the Gaelic by Malcolm Lawson.

Andy Stewart - Vocals
Bob Thomas - Mandola
Johnny Cunningham - Mandola
Phil Cunningham - String Synthesiser


JACK CUNNINGHAM's FAREWELL TO BENBECULA (written Phil Cunningham 1977)
SWEET MOLLY (trad arr. Silly Wizard)
Phil's inspiration for this wild air came from the many tales his father told him of the life and people of Benbecula. Sweet Molly is a fine tune that Johnny has known for many years, and here is played both as a strathspey and as a reel.

Phil Cunningham - Accordian
Andy Stewart - Tenor Banjo
Bob Thomas - Guitar
Gordon Jones - Bouzouki
Johnny Cunningham - Fiddle
Martin Hadden - Bass


BROOM O' THE COWDENKNOWES (trad arr. Silly Wizard)
A song from the Borders of Scotland telling the story of a young man banished from Scotland because of his love for a girl of higher social standing than himself. It is thought that the melody was written by Rizzio, the lover of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the words by a lass from Mellerstane.

Andy Stewart - Lead Vocals
Bob Thomas - Guitar
Gordon Jones - Guitar, Vocals
Phil Cunningham - Whistle, Harmonium, Vocals
Johnny Cunningham - Fiddle, Vocals
Martin Hadden - Bass, Vocals


To exercise good taste and still use all of their talents to advantage, when they possess the combined expertise of Silly Wizard, is the mark of collective brilliance.

Archie Fisher