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Music Review: Various Artists – Whaur The Pig Gaed On The Spree: Scottish Recordings By Alan Lomax, 1951-1957

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In 1951, Alan Lomax, who traveled the world collecting folk songs, made his first trip to Scotland at the suggestion of legendary Scottish folk singer Ewan MacColl and poet and song collector Hamish Henderson. He was amazed at the variety of Scottish music and at the extensive musical knowledge of the common people of the country. He collected songs from farm workers, fishwives, folks in taverns and the Scottish Traveling folk (gypsies), as well as from children.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of that first trip, Drag City Records has collaborated with The Alan Lomax Foundation’s Global Jukebox label to release Whaur the Pig Gaed on the Spree.

The collection is curated by Drag City recording artist Alasdair Roberts and represents a diverse and fascinating selection representative of the songs that (the late) Lomax gathered between 1951 and 1957.

These are not polished recording artists performing songs chosen for them by a record company. These are real people, singing the songs that they know and love. There are great instrumental jigs, funny stories, ballads and even a children’s play chant similar to the ones many of us learned as a child for jump roping.

Not only is this a recording which is historically important, it is also a very enjoyable collection which any lover of Celtic or folk music will love. The songs are sung in (very heavily accented) English, so that with careful attention you can figure out the lyrics and get the stories of the songs. Closing your eyes, you can picture yourself in some cottage kitchen listening to an old auntie or sitting in a cozy pub singing drinking songs with your friends, or dancing to a surprisingly courtly tune by firelight.

Whaur the Pig Gaed on the Spree gives the listener a rare chance to time travel about to Scotland in the 1950s and listen to some real, authentic Scottish folk music. Buy it for yourself and prepare to be transported to the Scottish Lowlands, or get it for anyone who has a love for Celtic or folk music or music history. You’ll have a great time in 1950s Scotland!

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.