The Battlefield Band

Home Is Where the Van Is

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Home Is Where the Van Is marked the Battlefield Band's U.S. debut and continued the Scottish group's affinity for blending modern instrumentation into the country's folk tradition. "Look Across the Water/Mrs Garden of Troup/The Keelman Ower Land" was as traditional a reel as you could get, accept for the fact that its main melody came courtesy of a synthesizer. The effect was, at first, jarring -- especially after the heartfelt, straightforward folk of "Bonny Barbry-O." But as the song and Van itself played out, and it became clear that the Battlefield Band was not compromising traditional music by introducing such silly things into the court of fiddle and Northumbrian pipes, the record became more and more endearing. Besides, the raw poignancy of later tracks like "Braw Lads of Galla Water" and the extended jam of "The Cowal Gathering/The Iron Man/Dancing Feet/Dick Gossip's Reel" were played with such skill, the Battlefield Band became quite difficult to dismiss. Besides, once the electronic undercurrent of "Joseph McDonald's Jig" was recognized and accepted, the pure uniqueness of the sound was really special, and pointed to an entire new generation of Scottish musicians who would mix tradition with technology.

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