Archie Fisher
& Garnet Rogers,
Off the Map
(Snowgoose, 1985;
Greentrax, 2004)

Snowgoose Songs originally released this album on tape and vinyl based on a fantastic tour of the U.S. and Canada by Archie Fisher and Garnet Rogers in 1985. Fisher has influenced Scottish guitar playing since the 1960s and Garnet continues the line of his late brother Stan in excellent music.

The collection of music here is a revelation and is important simply as good music -- but also for its historic content.

"The Moss Troopers Lament" may not be a familiar title, but listen to the chorus and you'll likely recognize the canon of "gae no more a-rovin'" songs.

Anyone visiting Scotland will fall in love with its rugged beauty, but most of us only experience it in summer. Dave Goulder has seen Scotland in winter and the song "Long and Lonely Winter" is both a warning and a seductive invitation for any of us to try it.

One of the joys of this CD is putting on a track and thinking, "that sounds familiar, but different." The songs reveal the diversity of folk music but also the similarity. The title "The Winter It is Past" is used as a line in another famous folk song that it reminded me of. The notes tell us that Robbie Burns collected "The Curragh of Kildare" and added a verse of his own.

Some of these songs gain a great deal from being sung in the Scots dialect, which has a beauty all its own, especially on songs of nature and the outdoors like "Lassie o' The Morning." On "Etterick," Fisher adds his tune to the words of Lady Mary Scott to produce another Scottish gem.

Break out the seasickness pills as you approach the last four tracks and don your so'wester (the oilskin hat worn by fishermen -- on trawlers not river banks) and take to the seas.

"Final Trawl" is a sad song of the end of a faithful ship. "The Last Leviathan" is probably the best-known song on the album; sung in live performance it cannot fail to move anyone with a love of the whale. They finish with a lovely live performance of "Rolling Home."

Interspersed with some great chat and joking, this album is an essential for the lover of Scottish or other folk music.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 5 February 2005

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