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Back o’ Benachie

Back o’ Benachie (Topic 12T180)

Back o’ Benachie
Songs and Ballads From the Lowland East of Scotland
Various Artists

Topic Records 12T180 (LP, UK, 1968)
Topic Records TSDL180 (DL, UK, 2016)

Recorded by Bill Leader in Scotland in 1967;
Notes by Peter Hall;
Photograph by Brian Shuel


Side 1

  1. Rob Watt: The Forfar Sodger (Roud 2857; G/D 1:69) (2.56)
  2. Lizzie Higgins: Adieu to Bogieside (Roud 4593; G/D 8:1517) (3.09)
  3. Davie Stewart: The Tarves Rant (Roud 4847; G/D 3:576) (4.41)
  4. Maggie McPhee: Back o’ Benachie (Roud 406; Laws M13; G/D 5:1012) (2.41)
  5. Rob Watt: The Guise o’ Tough (Roud 3800; G/D 3:378) (3.14)
  6. Bella Stewart: Bonnie House o’ Airlie (Roud 794; Child 199; G/D 2:233) (4.18)

Side 2

  1. Rob Watt: Billy Taylor (Roud 158; Laws N11; G/D 1:169; Henry H213, H757) (3.37)
  2. Jane Turriff: I Canna Wash (The Laird o Drum) (Roud 247; Child 236; G/D 4:835) (3.18)
  3. Cameron Turriff: Willie Graham (Roud 953; G/D 2:190) (2.27)
  4. Cathie Stewart: Orange and Blue (Roud 567; Laws P31; G/D 6:1199; Henry H60ab) (2.47)
  5. Rob Watt: Lothian Hairst (Roud 2165; G/D 3:404) (2.13)
  6. Sheila Stewart: Mill o’ Tiffy’s Annie (Andrew Lammie) (Roud 98; Child 233; G/D 5:1018) (6.18)


Aisnia Cswica’s review is from Gramophone, December 1968:

Back of Benachie (Topic 12T180) is a generous sample of the living tradition, with Sheila Stewart’s Mill o’ Tiffy’s Annie, Belle Stewart’s Bonnie House o’ Airlie, and Maggie MacPhee’s Back o’ Benachie. Sheila Stewart and her mother, like Lizzie Higgins and her mother Jeannie Robertson, span two generations, and show what has been lost further south in strength and renewal of singing. The same point is amply illustrated on The Travelling Stewarts, a companion record (Topic 12T179), with their singing, their husband’s piping and the first Topic recording of Christina Stewart, Davie Stewart, and his daughter Jane. The other meaning of a living tradition—the spontaneous renewal of the songs as well as the singers—is brought out in Festival at Blairgowrie (Topic 12T181), where Belle Stewart sings both the Berryfields o’ Blair, which she wrote forty years ago, and her 1966 parody of it; while the indefatigable Mary Brooksbank, having composed one of the shortest and clearest of radical statements in her Jute Mill Song (“Oh dear me, the world’s ill divided / Them that work the hardest are the least provided”), returns at the age of 70 to sing it movingly. This record is also notable for the singing of John “Hoddan” Macdonald of Lewis.