The names Robin Hall and Jimmy MacGregor are synonymous with the folk music of Scotland and their recording of 'Football Crazy' has become something of a classic.
Scotland has produced a wealth of important folk names over the years, including Ray & Archie Fisher, Hamish Imlach, Joe Gordon, The Corries, Alex Campbell, Ewan MacColl, Ian Campbell, Lou Killen, Matt McGinn and the inimitable Robin Hall and Jimmy MacGregor, whose contributions to the genre are incalculable.
The great folk revival of the '50's and '60's saw the re-emergence of a great many ballads and among the most popular was a Glasgow street song entitled 'Johnny Lad', featured here as the opening track. Glasgow has inspired numerous ballads through the years and Robin and Jimmy have included several on this album to remind folk enthusiasts how music of a traditional form can flourish in an urban environment.
Another interesting item is 'Inveray', the ballad of Baron O'Brackley, collected by the celebrated American folklorist, Dr. Francis James Child, of Harvard University, and performed here as a solo by Robin Hall. The song was published as Child No. 203 and was one of three-hundred-and-five collected by the Doctor between 1846 and 1896. Scotsfolk music, like any other, is extremely varied, and it is interesting to observe how much of the work of Robert Burns, the poet, has been absorbed into the genre. Recognised as the national poet of Scotland, Burns was a literary genius whose works were amazingly simple but possessing great beauty; Robin and Jimmy perform Burns' 'Ye Banks And Braes' with immense sympathy.
Another literary figure of diverse talents was Brendan Behan, the fiery Irish playwright and rebel. Whilst in prison for his youthful activities in the Irish Republican Army, Behan heard an old British prison ballad entitled The Royal Canal'; Behan remembered the song in later years but called it 'The Old Triangle' and passed it on to Ewan MacColl, who in turn recorded it. Robin Hall and Jimmy MacGregor have adapted the ballad to suit their own characteristic style and here it is called 'The Ould Triangle'.
'Two Heids Are Better Than Yin' is a folk album of great contrasts and not wholly restricted to Scots balladry, although the overall theme certainly conjures up vivid pictures of brawny, beared highlanders, purple heather, swirling kilts and claymores.
For those of you in need of a title translation, it means simply 'two heads are better than one !
BRYAN CHALKER — Editor, COUNTRY MUSIC REVIEW