August 31, 1999

Lismor goes retro with “Pipe Major’s Choice” collection

Lismor Digital of Glasgow, Scotland, has decided to compile, remaster, and repackage vintage recordings from famous bands of the past. The first in the “Pipe Major’s Choice” CDs are from Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia and Dysart & Dundonald.

The Shotts CD comprises selected tracks from three albums: “The Shores of Loch Katrine” (1974), “Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band” (1976), and “Champion of Champions” (1981). Fifteen selections bring back some of the most trend-setting music of that time, including classics like “Cullen Bay,” the “Carradale Bay” set, and the pre-modern era Shotts trademark MSR, “Donald Cameron,” “Cameronian Rant,” and “Pretty Marion.”

The band is in excellent form on every track, with the piping presented with driving, rhythmic expression on pipes rich and full. Occasional scrappy high A’s are more a fashion from the time than something to be criticized.

Of course, Alex Duthart’s drum corps throughout the recording is a highlight. Many of the tracks boast drum sections that include famous drummers Jim Kilpatrick, Tom Brown, and Bert Barr in the ranks. It’s clear that, like today, drumming completely complements the already excellent piping.

The Dysart & Dundonald project, on the other hand, is little more than a historical presentation of a successful band of the late 1970s. Taken from “Supreme Champions” (1975), “The Skirl of the Pipes” (1976), and “World Champions” (1979), the recording’s 21 tracks pale in comparison to the compilation from Shotts. Drones are never well set, chanters are often not well blown, technique is stripped from great tunes, and the pipe section often sounds like a quartet.

Nonetheless, the Dysart project is an important preservation of a band that was at its peak at the right time and place in pipe band history.

It’s interesting to juxtapose both these recordings with the great bands of today to see just how far pipe bands have progressed in fewer than twenty years.


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