Old Blind Dogs

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As one of Scotland's finest traditional bands, Old Blind Dogs have been giving the mighty Tannahill Weavers a run for their money since the group was first formed in 1990. They boast a nearly unbeatable array of strengths: a powerful lead voice in Jim Malcom, fine vocal harmonies, a top-notch fiddler (Jonny Hardie) and piper (Rory Campbell), and all-purpose strings man (Aaron Jones), as well as the unusual but always tasteful contributions of young percussionist Fraser Stone. A live album is long overdue, and this one doesn't disappoint. The sound quality is excellent, clear and balanced, and the performances mostly bristle with energy. Only the instrumental set "Sky City" fails to really catch fire -- everything else, from a rollicking rendition of the traditional song "Battle of Harlaw" that opens the album to the gorgeous and spare "Wild Rumpus" reel set that closes it, is by turns irresistibly energetic and seductively beautiful. Other highlights include a sturdy rendition of the classic Robert Burns song "A Man's a Man for A' That," a funky arrangement of "Kincardine Lads," and a lovely set of Breton and Galician tunes. Very highly recommended to all fans of Celtic music.

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