Black Stone Tramp
(Rhubarb, 1996)

The little band formed by Australian-born brothers Hamish, Fergus and Angus Richardson enjoys a success many bands would gladly travel the road 365 days a year to find. And while the Brother lineup has undergone several changes over the years, a quick play through any of their seven CDs and it's pretty easy to figure out why they are still gaining ground. There is clarity in this music that comes across on every single track. The piping is crisp, the harmonies precise and the energy undeniable. These are trademarks of any Brother recording or show, much to the delight of the large number of fans who turn out to see and hear them and buy their CDs by the truckload.

Black Stone Tramp is CD No. 3 and was recorded, as many indie recordings are, in someone's garage in a week's time. It must have been some garage! Back in 1996, Fergus (a.k.a. "Bur") had yet to strike out on his solo career and the extra helping of sibling affinity is very much apparent. Three times the power makes "Paddy's Leather Breeches" and "The Mason's Apron" come out sounding like massed bagpipes. There are several unexpected surprises along the way as well -- like the flugelhorn, played by Roy Wiegand, on "Mr. Maintenace," which adds an extra, sexy kick to an already jazzy little tune. And then there's the "talking" didgeridoo in "Clumsy Lover" -- you just can't help but smile.

While it's unfortunate that the original trio didn't stay together, at least there are still copies of their last CD to be had. And, who knows, maybe the ever-increasing fan base will convince them to do a "reunion" tour someday.

- Rambles
written by Sheree Morrow
published 9 November 2002

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