Category Archives: Karine Polwart

Bard Times

A disclaimer first. Sensitive souls may wish to skip this one as I’ll be discussing the work of a writer known for his use of the Scottish vernacular, and it just won’t be possible to avoid a certain four-letter word beginning with “f” and ending with “k”.  You scroll past the picture below at your own risk…

Robert Burns

It’s Robert Burns‘ 257th birthday! Well, I’ll tak a cup o’kindness here for auld lang syne…

Yes, it’s folk (except the final track), but you’ll be glad to know there’s not a bagpipe to be heard in this Burns Night selection. First up, two tracks from Eddi Reader‘s 2003 album with the no-nonsense title The Songs Of Robert Burns, recorded with a band including frequent collaborator Boo Hewerdine and BBC Scotland’s favourite folk ambassador Phil “not the New Order guy” Cunningham. It’s a terrific album with a decidedly crossover sound and it would be tempting to post the whole lot, but I’ve picked out the lush, very modern orchestral treatment of “Jamie Come Try Me” and the more trad but very catchy “Willie Stewart” (which goes into a reel called “Molly Rankin” at the end – nothing to do with Robert Burns but the band threw it in anyway).

Link: Eddi Reader – Jamie Come Try Me
Link: Eddi Reader – Willie Stewart / Molly Rankin

The most ambitious Burns-related recording project is undoubtedly Linn Records’ Complete Songs Of Robert Burns, 13 CDs in 12 volumes released over seven years, completed in 2003. An undertaking to be applauded, though I’ll be honest, the trad-folkiness of it is a bit full-on for me. (I’m not complaining, it’s just not my cup of tea!) Nevertheless, here are two of the less intimidating selections from the series’ 375 (!) tracks: from volume 3, a pretty accurate summary of current weather conditions from folk veteran Lesley Hale, and from volume 9, a joyous number from a pre-fame Karine Polwart.

Link: Lesley Hale – Cauld Blaws The Wind Frae East To West
Link: Karine Polwart – O Leeze Me On My Spinnin-Wheel

We’ve had four less well-known numbers from the Burns songbook, but the only way to finish is with one of the greatest hits. Quite possibly the greatest hit, of anyone’s, ever. And capable of withstanding even this kind of treatment, meted out by the latterday incarnation of hard rockers Girlschool

Link: Girlschool – Auld Lang Syne

[Edit: The original upload of “Willie Stewart” had the title as “Jamie Come Try Me” in the metadata. Apologies for the error. Fixed now!]