West Highland Blues - The Argyll Days
Yet to be released, West Highland Blues is a collection of songs I'm very proud of, which I worked on in Scotland with my friend, ex-BBC engineer Tony Woods.
His studio is on Clydeside with open sea views over to Ayrshire.
The songs are a mixture of my own work and re-workings of some traditional material and despite the fact that the album hasn't yet been let loose into the wild these tracks are some of my most requested during live shows - they tap into a certain Celtic seam of joy and tears.
Delia's Gone uses some of the original melody and lyric but the action takes place in Greenock, Arran and Kintyre.
While Stagger Lee is set on Clydeside and in Glasgow and the Barras to a new melodic setting.
The Slave's Lament and Highland Mary are by Robert Burns. I have written new music for both of them. Burns actually used extant melodies for them himself. I would not have taken it upon myself to replace music that he had composed.
I originally wrote these pieces for two theatre productions with The Dalriada Fencibles, a loose traveling players group in Argyll that I work with when I can. They were led by writer/poet Janette Valentine. These two songs were performed as part of a piece we did called Robert Burns and the Kirk.
I wrote another one of my original songs from the album Robert Campbell's Lament for Jeannie Burns for another production we performed a few years back at the Tam O' Shanter Centre in Alloway, which was Burns birthplace. Called 'Jean Armour' it focused upon the life of his widow.
Another three of the songs form a rousing trilogy which draws upon the time the U.S. Navy had their Polaris submarine base on Holy Loch. They are; The American Years, He Went Back to Brooklyn and The Marlborough Hotel.
Elvis Presley came to Prestwick is a storytelling ballad based on Elvis setting foot on Scottish soil in 1960. Coffin Road (for Johnny Cash at Inverchaolain Church, Loch Striven, Argyll.) was written as a rumination on the highland coffin routes and as an homage to Cash. This song was also used initially in a Dalriada Fencibles production called Life on the Shore. The shoreline being that of Holy Loch and Clydeside.
At present the tracks consist of Tony Woods percussion/drum grooves and my own acoustic 12 string guitar and vocals/harmonies, I'm also playing some electric guitar again. The first time I've played electric since my days with Domino Effect in Reading in the 1980's. These days I'm using Danelectro 12 string guitars.