We have chosen the songs on this album to try to combine the more obscure traditional songs re-arranged for modern ears, with new songs we have written and a couple of our favourite songs from contemporary composers. Wind and water, time and tide, these are the common enemy of the farmer, the seaman and the men working around Scotland's coast on the rigs. They have all left their mark on our temperament, and our music.
We start off with Mormond Braes, a North East song of a jilted lassie who is still optimistic about her future prospects. Kishorn Commandos was written after a 9 am session of singing with the men working at the Howard Dorris construction camp on Loch Kishorn. They are a very special breed, and we are proud that they have adopted this song as something of an anthem. Back O' Beyond is dedicated to the real travellers. We like and respect them for having the courage of their convictions, and for the times they have been kind enough to give us a lift. Morris's March was written for Morris Newton of Dingwall, who appreciates our music.
In the early 19th century, industrial disturbances were cloaked in secrecy. The government kept a shield of silence on the Scottish weavers' uprising of 1820, which they pre-empted by infiltrating the ranks and causing a revolt before the weavers were prepared. Three men were hanged in Glasgow, and are remembered by a monument in Sighthill Cemetery. Many were transported to penal colonies. Robin wrote this song about them: The Weavers.
Another aspect of the North East is expressed in Sleepy Toon, from the time when labourers "feed" or contracted themselves to farmers for six months at a time. Despite the hardships they endured, their indomitable spirit and humour comes across in all the bothy ballads. An American patriot. Woody Guthrie wrote This Land Is Your Land for his own country. This is a Scottish version.
The men from the North Sea rigs constantly battle against the elements to harvest the Black Rain, Men From The Rigs is a song for them. The old story of the lassie who falls by the wayside is given a twist in Bogie's Bonny Bell, and Come By The Hills is a song we enjoy singing no matter how often it is requested.
John McLean is now a folk hero. A Glasgow schoolteacher, he was persecuted for his beliefs, and jailed for them. Remember John McLean is John McGrath's tribute.
Charlie Clark from Gospetry Farm in Kinross-shire taught us Kissin' In The Dark, in fact he taught Gordon some years ago, at a time when Gordon was indulging in that pastime. Once we were asked to illustrate the similarities between Scots and Irish music. Rather than indulge in academic verbosity we arranged these two songs: The Muckin' O' Geordie's Byre & What Would You Do?
Tarry Arry Arry is an old Scottish nonsense song Gordon's mother used to know. This version was arrived at between ourselves and Nell Purdie from Milnathort. Our last song is, we are told, one of our most powerful. The Lion On The Gold will always be symbolically Scottish.
Finally, we would like to thank most sincerely those who have assisted us. A very special thank you to the musicians who worked with us for their skill, diplomacy and friendliness. Thanks too, to Ian Brown who sat through interminable sessions with ever critical ear. And our gratitude is boundless to Neil Ross of REL studios, undoubtedly one of the finest engineers in Europe.