Greentrax Recordings
Greentrax Recordings

1986-2021: Celebrating Scotland's Music for 35 Years

cover image for Peerie Willie Johnson - Willie’s World
November 2007
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25 tracks: Nice Work If You Can Get It * Da Road North Set * A Foggy Day in London Town * Night And Day * Yesterday * Stars Fell on Alabama * Skye Boat Song * Bye Bye Blues * The Way You Look Tonight * Unknown Tune * Harvest Home/Ragtime Jane * Where Or When * They Can’t Take That Away From Me * Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man of Mine * Braes of Auchtertyre Set * Birks Works * Don’t Blame Me * Forgotten Dreams * As I Went Down By Fiddichside Set * How Long Has This Been Going On? * Somewhere Over The Rainbow * Margaret’s Waltz * St Louis Blues * Lady Be Good.

Shetland guitarist ‘Peerie’ Willie Johnson was equally at home playing with jazz or folk musicians, and had a style to suit both. Welcome to Willie’s World - filled with music from jazz to traditional pieces, from blues to beautiful chord accompaniments, and performances second to none.

These recordings have been gleaned from various sources, including albums by other artists, and informal recordings made by Willie and other musicians in Shetland. Regrettably, Willie never got round to recording a solo album but these are nostalgic moments which will hopefully keep his memory alive.

Of the many performers on this CD, some are well-known and others, although accomplished musicians, would be largely unknown outside the Shetland Islands. Those accompanying Peerie Willie include Billy Kay, Drew Robertson, Norman Goudie, Harris Playfair, Jimmy Elliot, Nathan Leask, George Manson, Frankie Sinclair, Willie Hunter, Ron Mathewson, Harold Mathewson, Aly Bain and Debbie Scott.

There are extensive sleeve notes in the CD booklet written by Evelyn Leask, Willie’s sister. The notes give a wonderful insight into the life of this great man.

The album consists of tracks from some of the memorable albums Willie guested on, and informal recordings made locally in Shetland. Willie’s family regarded him as a jazz musician because jazz was the music he played at home, but Willie played with many of the greats in traditional music, including Tom Anderson, Willie Hunter and Aly Bain. It is fitting that Willie should be associated with the unalterable changes he has brought to traditional music.

Special thanks are due to Billy Kay for his considerable assistance and support with the project (and for providing so many tracks from his private archive of recordings), to Drew Robertson and Ron Mathewson for the jazz session, and to Norman Goudie and Harris Playfair for providing the music for the tribute tracks. Thanks are also due to Whirlie Records for the Aly Bain track, Owen Tierney of Attic Records for the Debbie Scott track, and the BBC (with special help from Vicki Mitchell) for the tracks of Peerie Willie and Willie Hunter recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London.

‘Once in every three hundred or so years someone comes along with a talent like Willie’ (Aly Bain)

‘When I think of Peerie Willie I don’t think of him as a musician, but as music itself - it oozed out of his every pore.’ (Martin Taylor)

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