17 tracks: The Peatbog Soldiers (The McCalmans) * Jamie Foyers (Dick Gaughan) * Jarama Valley / Bandiera Rosa (The Laggan) * Another Valley (Geordie McIntyre) * Si Me Quieres Escribir (If You Want To Write) (Christine Kydd) * These Hands (The Wakes) * Owt For Nowt (John Watt) * Viva La 15th Brigada / Viva Nicaragua (Carlos Arredondo) * Picasso Paints Guernica (Robin Laing) * Graves In Spain (Eileen Penman) * When The Call Comes (George Archibald & Ian McCalman) * Salud International Brigade (Jim Brown) * Viva Los Brigadistas (Alison McMorland & Geordie McIntyre) * Hasta Luego (Frank Rae) * ¡No Pasaran! (Gallo Rojo) * Hasta La Vista - Poem (Iain Anderson)
A collection of songs and a poem principally about the many Scots who volunteered to fight in Spain on the side of the elected Republican Government against General Franco and the fascists. The Scots volunteers fought mainly with The International Brigade which included, as the name suggests, volunteers from many other countries of the world. Some tracks were recorded specially for this album and others were licensed from other companies and individuals.
When research for songs with a mainly Scottish perspective was undertaken it became immediately apparent that some very fine songs existed, but as the project advanced songwriters came forward with new and quite excellent material. Eventually fifteen songs and a poem were selected. This is a wonderful companion to the best-selling Greentrax World War 1 album Far, Far From Ypres and Greentrax is proud to release the album in memory of the Scots who fought and died in the fight against fascism in Spain.
As with the Far, Far From Ypres collection, Ian McCalman got behind the new project and recorded six of the songs, including Dick Gaughan’s unbeatable version of Jamie Foyers. Others recorded specially by Ian at his Kevock Studio include Si Me Quieres Escribir (sung in Spanish by Christine Kydd), Graves In Spain (a Mary Brooksbank poem, set to music and sung by Eileen Penman) and Robin Laing’s latest descriptive piece of writing Picasso Paints Guernica.
Ian McCalman also searched his archive of multi-track tapes of McCalmans recordings and unearthed The Peatbog Soldiers, recorded live in 1979 by the original lineup of Ian, Derek Moffat and Hamish Bayne. This is as good as any version of this often-recorded marching song adopted by The International Brigades.
Greentrax was fortunate to obtain a licence for The Laggan’s spirited Jarama Valley / Bandiera Rosa from the Lochshore label. Alison McMorland and Geordie McIntyre recorded Geordie’s Viva Los Brigadistas, accompanied by piper Allan MacDonald, also at Kevock Studio, and a licence was granted by The Living Tradition for their recording of Another Valley, also from Geordie’s prolific pen.
Carlos Arredondo kindly licensed Viva La 15 Brigada / Viva Nicaragua from his earlier Debo Cantar Bonito album. Neon Music licensed the late John Watt’s Owt For Nowt, a contemporary look at Spain after the war. The Glasgow Irish folk ‘n’ roll band The Wakes provide the very stirring These Hands. We were pleased to include the late Jim Brown’s song Salud International Brigade, penned from stories told to Jim by ex-Brigaders working on the Clyde shipyards. Frank Rae’s unusual take on one volunteer, Hasta Luego, was from the Lanarkshire Songwriters album From Blantyre To Barcelona. Edinburgh’s Gallo Rojo provided the high energy ¡No Pasaran! sung in Spanish.
The poet and author Alistair Findlay submitted a poem late in the production of the album, When The Call Comes. Ian McCalman put music to it and enlisted the help of George Archibald, a member of the group Ragged Glory, to record a demo for Alistair, who was most impressed. Ian and George then recorded the track for inclusion on the album.
The album ends with the remarkable piece of poetry Hasta La Vista Madrid by the late Bob Cooney, a hugely admired poet and songwriter from Aberdeen. Bob, a leading Brigader, was brought to the attention of Greentrax by Dick Gaughan. The poem is excellently interpreted by BBC Radio Scotland’s Iain Anderson.
Thanks to Gavin MacDougall, who first suggested the idea to Greentrax, Daniel Gray and Gordon Munro for their fine contributions, Ian McCalman for his recording work and support for the project, Geordie McIntyre who was such a fountain of knowledge, mastering engineer Peter Haigh, designer John Slavin (including the stunning front cover image) and to all the labels and artists whose contributions are gratefully acknowledged.
Other titles associated with Wars & Battles from Greentrax include:
“This is no ordinary CD you hold in your hands. This is history, tribute and - as you will hear - love, affection, defiance and most importantly solidarity between Scotland and Spain, and in memory of the contribution of the International Brigades defending Spain from fascism. Scots more than played their part in this noble struggle…” (Cllr. Gordon Munro, Leith Ward Labour, in his piece for the CD)
“When Spain called, Scotland answered. Well over 500 Scottish men and women served in the Spanish Civil War. A third of them remain in the country, sleeping beneath the soil they volunteered to defend from fascism. As the last of that golden red generation dies away, our job is to remember, commemorate and oppose prejudice today. This album is then a souvenir to be enjoyed and a clarion call to be heeded…” (from the album introduction by Daniel Gray, author of Homage To Caledonia, published by Luath Press)
“I am sitting listening to No Pasaran with tears running down my cheeks. My father would have been so honoured, proud and touched that he and his comrades were being remembered in this way so long after the struggle and the pain…” (Sheena Wellington)
“Moving from simplistic to subtle, pompous or passionate - it radiantly delivers an eternal human message…” (Norman Chalmers, Scotland on Sunday)
“Moving, inspiring, often deeply personal… It may not be an obvious purchase but it is one you will not regret, an album to which you will regularly return…” (Nigel Scholfield, Living Tradition)
No. 1 Album in the Top Ten in October 2012 (Albert Reguart, Catalunya Radio)
“Great lyrics, unique delivery and a marvellous idea… ” (Ray Smith, Canadian radio)
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