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Primary Colours CD

Chantan: Primary Colours

Christine Kydd (vocals, guitar)
Elspeth Cowie (vocals, percussion)
Corrina Hewat (vocals, Scottish harp)

Folk, Jazz and Blues are the Primary Colours mixed by Chantan as this supertrio of acclaimed performers launches Scots song towards the millennium.  Distinctive harmonies weave through wickedly subtle, original arrangements as the tradition marches on, secure in its own roots but finally at ease with its upstart sisters of the Twentieth Century.  Chantan pay due homage to standard numbers, but then their paths converge to blaze a trail for a new wave of Scottish folksingers - the barriers have come crashing down!

"The trio complement each other beautifully in alternately exquisite and earthy vocal harmonies ...."
—The Scotsman

1
Gloomy Winter's noo awa' (Robert Tannahill)
A love song by the poet Robert Tannahill, a contemporary of Burns.  From the singing of Dougie Maclean.
2
John Anderson (Robert Burns)
From Robert Burns' Merry Muses, the bawdy versions of many songs he collected or wrote, most of which were not thought genteel enough for the female clientele of his editor.  We call it "Mrs Anderson's Blues".
3
Slave's Lament (Robert Burns)
On a visit to Dundee, Burns is said to have caught sight of a slave ship in the harbour.  It was en route from Senegal to the plantations of Virginia.  Burns takes the part of the slave imprisoned on the ship and tries to convey what it felt like to be "'torn from that lovely shore".  From Sheena Wellington and Dougie Maclean.
4
Darn that Dream (Van Heusen/Delange)
Corrina learnt this song from a wonderful pianist, Tim Elwell, in Leeds.
5
The Collier Laddie (Robert Burns)
Imagine it.  Turning down riches and a handsome suitor tae "ging wi' yin that's black" (black was the name given to a collier - coal miner - because he was always covered in coal dust).
 
6
Donal Og
An Irish ballad first translated from the Gaelic in the 6th century.  It tells of a young woman jilted by her love and shamed as a result.  Christine has this from the singing of Al O'Donnell.
 
7
The Witches' Reel
A song from 1591 and the witch trials of King James VI of Scotland.  A time when any woman could be accused of being a witch on a whim.  The words came from the transcripts of one of the trials in connection with a plot by Francis Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, and others to kill the king.  It is the first written record of a reel in Scotland.  Christine has a theory that some local worthy trumped up charges to "frame" the women and claim their possessions.
 
8
The Dowie Dens o' Yarrow
One of many versions of this beautiful Border ballad which tells the tale of a young girl who's fallen in love with someone "below her station".  Her brothers and their friends take drastic action.
 
9
If I had a Ribbon Bow
From a version by Maxine O'Sullivan, a black jazz vocalist who used to work with the John Kirby sextet in the early '30s.   She had a yen for many of the hold songs and sang some wonderful arrangements - Barbara Allen is another.  This one is a bit like a fairytale, everything would be wonderful if only she had a ribbon for her hair!
 
10
Wha'll mow me now (Robert Burns)
Robert Burns' tale of a young girl who's lamenting the loss of her ability to earn a living after having some fun with a soldier.  Her profession is the "oldest" sort.  We sing it as if she is having a conversation with some "colleagues" about her condition and the unsympathetic "dame", some would call her "madam".  We heard this from singers including Gordeanna McCulloch, Sylvia Barnes and Janet Russell.
 
11
The Braes o' Killiekrankie O   *  The Lea-Rig (Robert Burns)
The first song is about one of the earlier Jacobite rebellions.   The Battle of Killiekrankie was fought in 1689 as part of the Scots' rebellion against William of Orange who had replaced his father-in-law James VII and II as king.   It is notable for the death of Claverhouse and the bravery of the participants.
 
12
Boser Girls (Ashley Hutchings)
Written by Ashley Hutchings to celebrate the meeting of two Appalachian clog dancing teams, this dark song sounds a warning to all women about marriage - particularly to a miner going through hard times.  Christine heard this from Zena Tubman, a singer from the north-east of England.
 
13
Hishey Bah
Danny Couper of Aberdeen gave Elspeth this version, he learned it from Jeannie Robertson.  The story:  a young woman laments her lost youth (in both senses of the word) as she sings her small child to sleep.   The mother is also warning her daughter of the fickleness of young men and to beware their intentions.
 
14
Down in the Jungle
A traditional children's street and playground song which has many variations.  This one we learned from Jennifer in the Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, just after a live set for radio.
   

All compositions traditional unless credited, arranged by Chantan.
Mixed by Robin Rankin and Chantan with Rob Stokes

 

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