Perthshire Amber by Dougie MacLean
CD Released June 20 by Blix Street Records
BLIX STREET RECORDS SETS U.S. RELEASE OF DOUGIE MACLEAN'S "PERTHSHIRE AMBER" SUITE
Critically-Acclaimed Original Work Marks Sixth Release by the Legendary Scottish Musician for the L.A.-Based Label.
Blix Street Records set the U.S. release of PERTHSHIRE AMBER, the critically-acclaimed musical suite by Scotland's premier musician, Dougie MacLean, for June 20. The suite in four movements marks the multi-talented MacLean's sixth release on Los Angeles-based Blix Street under an exclusive agreement with Scotland's Dunkeld Records.
PERTHSHIRE AMBER is both a milestone and the realization of a long-held dream for MacLean, who has long been regarded as one of Scotland's finest musicians and vocalists and who can claim songs such as the often-recorded "Caledonia" among his numerous writing credits. Commissioned by the Scotland's Perth Festival of the Arts and Dunkeld Music.Art. Media, "Perthshire Amber" debuted at the Perth Festival in June, 1999 to rave reviews, and was then recorded at CaVa Sound Workshops in Glasgow later that year.
MacLean has grounded his work in the rich idioms of Celtic dance and music, seamlessly fusing the traditional and classical forms. Kevin McCrae's string arrangements of the PERTHSHIRE AMBER compositions are effectively executed by The BT Scottish Ensemble, comprising violins, violas, cellos and bass. In addition to MacLean's signature bouzouki, guitar and fiddle, the album features Graham Mulholland on whistle, Highland and Scottish small pipes; Peter Clark on fiddle; John Morran on guitar; and Jamie MacLean on percussion.
The suite's opening movement is its title track, which swirls from ground zero percussion into a rhythmic flight of strings and unforgettable melody that is a signature of Dougie MacLean. The second movement is comprised of the haunting "Crannog" and the stately, graceful "Castle Menzies," evocative and atmospheric tunes rooted in irresistible spirit and love of place. Romping and rolling along on light leaps and swirls of melody, the third movement, "The Fair City," captures the bright anticipation and adventures realized that a day filled with the hustle and bustle of citylife can bring.
For the fourth and final movement, MacLean has composed a seamless potpourri of songs that range from the gentle ebb and flow of "Rannoch" to the rollicking ramble of "Butterstone Puddock," while fresh variations on the themes of "Castle Menzies" and "Perthshire Amber" bookend MacLean's vocals on the meditative "The Things We Love." Completing the album are three previously-released tracks: the gentle air "Mr. & Mrs. MacLean of Snaigow" (from FIDDLE, 1984), the mysterious "The Search" (from THE SEARCH, 1990) and the graceful "The Kaimes" (from SUNSET SONG, 1994).
A sparkling showcase of moods and colors and its people, PERTHSHIRE AMBER is a true musical tribute that captures the spirit and landscape of a place and its people as only a native son could. But then Dougie MacLean is not only a native son of Perthshire, he was to traditional Celtic music born. His father played fiddle, his mother melodeon, and his career spans such seminal bands as The Tannahill Weavers and Silly Wizard as well as some two decades of solo work and tours that have earned him an enviable reputation among his peers, an international following of loyal fans and produced a catalogue of songs that includes some of Blix Street Records to Release Dougie McLean's "Perthshire Amber" contemporary traditional music's most beloved compositions.
"I like dealing with songwriting as kind of a magical art," MacLean once said in an interview. "I like the idea that there's something about it that I don't understand and that I can't put my finger on. Nobody can put their finger on what is or is not an infectious melody. You can give the same eight notes to people, and they'll all come up with different things, but one of them might just be something that will break your heart. Music is such a strange and powerful thing."
Often referred to as the unofficial national anthem of Scotland, MacLean's "Caledonia" was recorded in 1992 by singer Frankie Miller, whose version of the song reached Number One on the Scottish charts. MacLean himself has collected Scottish Gold six times. American songstress Kathy Mattea has also recorded his material: she is, in fact, such a fan that she and MacLean co-produced some of his songs on her TIME PASSES BY album, and they were the subject of a BBC documentary. MacLean's wide-ranging credits also include music for the movie "The Last of the Mohicans." More recently, a techno version of his "The Gael" became a hit on the European club scene.
With its U.S. release, PERTHSHIRE AMBER joins Dougie MacLean's RIOF, TRIBUTE, MARCHING MYSTERY, CRAIGUE DHU and INDIGENOUS in Blix Street's catalogue of outstanding music from around the world, with the remainder of MacLean's impressive catalogue to follow.
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