14 tracks: When Times Are Tough * The Ground She Walks Upon * Big Al And Ibrox * The Last Leviathan * Now I’m Easy * Australian Wine * I’ll Lay Ye Doon Love * Dolina * Oh How They All Grow Older * John Thomson * The Iolaire Disaster * Waiting For The Ferry * Sweet Fallen Angels of War * Ickle Dickle Dido.
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“Folk songs are just stories set to music…”
An outstanding collection of mainly contemporary songs, five written by Fraser Bruce himself, one traditional song and the rest by notable songwriters such as Eric Bogle, Dougie McLean, John Watt and Graeme Miles.
Session musicians include Gavin Paterson (guitar and backing vocals), Yvonne McLeod (accordion), Alastair McDonald (tenor banjo, mouth organ, guitar), Rob Mairs (5-string banjo), Ian Bruce (guitars, bass, percussion, keyboards, backing vocals), Sandy Gibbs (bagpipes) and six young Bruces adding backing vocals.
For over 60 years, Fraser Bruce has had an interest in singing folk songs, preferably with a storyline, a chorus and a strong melody. It all started for him when Norman Buchan opened a Ballads Club in Rutherglen Academy where Fraser was a pupil. This club produced many fine singers who became prominent in the early Scottish Folk Club scene of the 1960s.
His recording career began with his first LP Record released by Nevis Records in 1971, followed by a second four years later. In those early days it was all about song and nothing has changed for him, fifty years later.
In the 1980s, Fraser teamed up to create a very successful duo with his younger brother, Ian Bruce. They released three LPs with Klub Records. They became known affectionately by their fans as “Mrs Bruce’s Boys”. A compilation from these three albums was released by Greentrax in 2015 as The Best Of Mrs Bruce’s Boys.
Until recently, Fraser didn’t bother about writing songs because he reckoned there were already so many great traditional and contemporary songs out there. However, things have changed for him and writing has become a real interest.
His own songs on this CD cover the time that he and his friend, Alan Morris, reckoned they cheated death by staying in the Scotia Bar for a session rather than go to the New Year’s Old Firm game at Ibrox in 1971. Sixty-six fans were crushed that day. The song explains the story.
Other subjects he has written about include the tragic sinking of HMY Iolaire in 1919, only 100 yards offshore with the loss of over 200 men. Also featured is the slaughter of young men in the Great War, now their bodies “lie alone, amongst the boys who never made it home”.
On a lighter note he writes about the joys of being a grandparent, while another of his songs reflects on the decades that he has lived through and his friends who are “slowly slipping away”.
Every Song’s A Story and those written by others recall the migration to Australia on the “ten pound ticket”, or the leaving of the Scottish Highlands and Islands to find work in the cities.
There is the poignant story of the young Celtic goalkeeper John Thomson, who died playing in a match against their old rivals Rangers.
It is hard to avoid a story of love and this CD has three of them: one when lovers part as he leaves for war; one about a couple meeting up at University; the third an old traditional song often heard at Scottish Folk Festivals.
Following the closure of their coal mines, many communities faced poverty - but possibly the greatest threat to us all is the complete disregard of the human race to protect our planet and it’s many species. The Last Leviathan will make you think about this.
Songs by other writers include Eric Bogle’s popular Now I’m Easy, Dougie McLean’s Dolina (one of many women from the Highlands and Islands who settled in Glasgow) and Graeme Miles’ song Waiting For The Ferry (a going away song).
All fourteen are great songs and as the title of the album suggests, all with a ‘story’.