album cover Five Hand Reel (1976)

[Rubber RUB 019]

Engineer Mickey Sweeney
Producer Geoff Heslop

Artist : Five Hand Reel

Dick Gaughan : Vocal, Guitars, Cittern, Whistle, Tenor Banjo
Bobby Eaglesham : Vocal, Guitar, Mandolin
Tom Hickland : Vocal, Fiddle, Piano
Barry Lyons : Bass
Dave Tulloch : Drums

Track Notes

Both Sides Of The Forth (Trad arr Five Hand Reel)

This is a combination of various bits and pieces. I had had the desire for a long time to abandon the idea that songs and/or tunes were self-contained, isolated units and start to use song and tune as building blocks for more adventurous arrangements. I suppose I had been set off in this direction by listening to Sean O'Riada and the techniques he was exploring in the music for Playboy of the Western World. Planxty and Boys of the Lough (and others) had experimented on these lines but generally only by tagging on a tune after a song, although Carthy and Swarbrick had dug a bit deeper on occasion. Both Sides Of The Forth was a crude attempt at seeing how bits of songs could interplay.

Death Of Argyll (Bobby Eaglesham)

A lot of people assume this is traditional but it was written by Bobby. This arrangement is a prime example of Dave Tulloch's wonderfully orchestral approach to the use of percussion (which was further explored in Clan Alba 20 years later) - as a whole vocabulary of sound rather than as a rhythmic foundation - and is part of what made Five Hand Reel's approach unique at that time, the application of elements of jazz, rock, pipe band and orchestral influences to a solid base of traditional form rather than the grafting on of a rock band backline to thunder away behind traditional tunes which was, and unfortunately largely still is, the normal tendency.

Kempy's Hat (Trad arr Five Hand Reel)

The 'Kempy' in question was a friend from Edinburgh, Jimmie Milne, who went to live in Denmark where FHR toured regularly. For some reason which I cannot now recall (probably the mass insanity which affects bands after months constantly on the road) we seemed to find hilarious the discovery that his middle name was 'Kemp'. When we arrived at his house in Copenhagen in the middle of winter to find him wearing a rather interesting piece of headgear, his immortality was assured.

The Knight And The Shepherd's Daughter (Trad arr Five Hand Reel)

While working with Aly Bain in Boys of the Lough, I had learned this great Shetland tune (Christmas Day i the Moarnin) which seemed to have been written for the words of this traditional ballad, it fitted so perfectly.

Sliave Gallion Braes (Trad arr Five Hand Reel)

This gives me the opportunity to kill off a misconception - Sliave Gallion Braes was sung by Bobby Eaglesham. This has been the bane of my life for 20 years, people regularly coming to me on solo gigs and asking me to sing it! I have never sung it, merely the harmony line behind Bobby. Although our voices are totally distinct individually, there is a common quality which makes it difficult to distinguish who was singing what when we sang together.

Wee Wee German Lairdie (Trad arr Five Hand Reel)

When I joined FHR, I felt a sense of exhileration that a lot of the ideas I had been unable to use previously could have an outlet and the arrangement for this song was one of them. The song itself is in James Hogg's Jacobite Relics of Scotland, Vol 1, and is from the 1715 Jacobite war.

The Maid Of Listowel (Trad arr Five Hand Reel)

A traditional Irish song sung by Tom.

When A Man's In Love (Trad arr Five Hand Reel)

A song I had heard from the great Irish singer, Paddy Tunney. I wish I had sung it a tone lower. The problem with making your mistakes on record is that they are there to haunt you forever.

Frankie's Dog (Trad arr Five Hand Reel)

The collective title given to this bunch of tunes is in honour of the dog belonging to Frankie and Beryl O'Neill, friends of ours in Sunderland. It had several endearing habits, like doing vertical take-off, stiff-legged, at unpredictable intervals, and others which I won't go into here.

Historical Footnote

Recorded at Impulse Studios in Wallsend where the diet was exclusively spam fritters and pints of Federation beer.

celtic knotwork

The whole album was recorded and mixed on an 8-track with the drumkit being sub-mixed to 2 tracks during recording. Most of the arrangements were done in the studio - there was no such thing as pre-production in those days. In spite of that, the entire album was conceived, constructed, rehearsed and recorded in 8 days.

So far as I am aware, this album is unavailable due to the actual legal ownership of the recording being uncertain.

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