Friday, October 30, 2015

Flower of Scotland





One of the more inspiring songs heard at the Rugby World Cup is Flower of Scotland, the unofficial Scottish National Anthem. Written by Roy Williamson in 1967. It was first sung by The Corries. The lyrics relate to the famous Battle of Bannockburn (1314) when the Scottish army under the leadership of Robert the Bruce defeated Edward II of England. The tune was composed on the Northumbrian smallpipes and became very popular as a folk song. In 1974, Billy Steele, encouraged his team-mates to sing it on the victorious British Lions tour of South Africa. At the 1990 Five Nations Championship between Scotland and England, the song was adopted as the pre-game anthem and ever since it became associated with the Scotland national rugby union team. Usually the first and third verses are sung.


O Flower of Scotland,
When will we see your like again
That fought and died for
Your wee bit hill and glen.
And stood against him,
Proud Edward's army,
And sent him homeward
Tae think again.
The hills are bare now,
And autumn leaves lie thick and still
O'er land that is lost now,
Which those so dearly held
That stood against him,
Proud Edward's army
And sent him homeward
Tae think again.
Those days are past now
And in the past they must remain
But we can still rise now
And be the nation again!
That stood against him
Proud Edward's army
And sent him homeward
Tae think again.
O Flower of Scotland,
When will we see your like again
That fought and died for
Your wee bit hill and glen.
And stood against him,
Proud Edward's army,
And sent him homeward
Tae think again.




Read more
A potted history of the rugby world cup, the rules of the game and rugby boots Part One: Introduction
A potted history of the rugby world cup, the rules of the game and rugby boots Part Two: History of the Games
A potted history of the rugby world cup, the rules of the game and rugby boots Part Three: Rules of the Games
A potted history of the rugby world cup, the rules of the game and rugby boots Part Four: Rugby Boots
A potted history of the rugby world cup, the rules of the game and rugby boots Part Five: Studs or Cleats
A potted history of the rugby world cup, the rules of the game and rugby boots Part Six: Flower of Scotland

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Corries




Bill Smith and Ron Cruikshanks were studying architecture at the Edinburgh College of Art in the mid-fifties when they went to Ireland to collect folk music. On their return they started an impromptu group called the Corrie Voices with Andy Turner (banjo). Folk music was popular in the UK driven mainly by American folk singers like Woody Guthrie and The Weavers. Slowly the traditional Scottish ballads came to the fore ironically because of the Skiffle craze. It was considered inappropriate by the BBC to promote American folk songs on radio so there was a mad rush to discovered British folk music. This resulted in some strange crossovers such as rockabilly versions of “My Bonnie” and “Coming through the Rye.”







However, this also meant a number of influential musicians could straddle Skiffle and UK Folk. Folk Clubs were an alternative venue to milk and coffee bars for students and acts like The Spinners (from Liverpool), Wally Whyton (The Vipers), Mike Harding all started playing skiffle but found their bent lay in folk. In Scotland, Robin Hall and Jimmie McGregor were no different and liked American folk music but started researching Scottish folk music. Their love of Music Hall gave them another shared interest which would eventuate in an act that became very successful appearing regularly on the Tonight program (BBC) and eventually as the resident folk duo on The White Heather Club (BBC).



Matt McGinn, Archie Fisher and Hamish Imlach were city folk singers with massive appeal to urban dwellers. More ethnic than the rest their humour came from the working class streets and their influence was immense among yet to make it acts like Billy Connolly, Gerry Rafferty and John Martyn.



A tremendously popular radio series at the time featured Ewan McColl singing Scottish ballads.



The music of the Corrie Voices reflected this background but at the same time was influenced by the traditional Jacobean songs. When Andy left he was replaced by a fellow student called Roy Williamson and the addition of Paddie Bell (singer). The group were soon a popular attraction around the pubs and folk clubs in Edinburgh. In 1962 they scored a prestigious gig at an Edinburgh Festival venue. Unfortunately, Ron Cruikshanks fell ill and Ronnie Browne (guitar), another art student was asked to join the line up. Now billed the "Corrie Folk Trio and Paddie Bell" the group continued as semi-professionals, keeping their day jobs, but working up a big following. In 1964 they became the resident folk group on the "Hoot'nanny Show" (BBC).



After the success of the Hoot’nanny Show the group signed with Fontana records and became professional. In 1965, Paddie Bell left to have a baby, thereafter she pursued a solo career. Despite their continuing success Ron Smith and Ronnie Browne fell out after the 1965 New Year BBC Hogmanay show and Smith left the Corrie Trio. In 1966, Roy Williamson and Ronnie Browne were in two minds whether to continue as a duo. Fortunately, they decided to become the Corries. Popular as ever they were featured on the BBC series "The White Heather Club. The Corries segment was filmed on location which added to their rugged and romantic appearance, or as Billy Connolly might say, made them "windswept and interesting."



Roy was not only a consummate musician he was a skilled musical instrument designer and maker and took every opportunity to feature the sounds of his new instruments like the ‘combolins’ in their performances. By the end of the 60s and throughout the 70s The Corries were the face of folk music in Scotland. The duo performed the length and breadth of the country appearing in village halls as well as prestigious venues. They were a band of the people and when Roy wrote "Flower of Scotland," it became Scotland's unofficial anthem.



The group made several albums which sold well in Scotland but success outside never came although they did commend great respect in the folk community. During the 1989 tour Roy’s health began to deteriorate. He was asthmatic and often required to be medicated before performances but he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and died two years later. Ronnie Browne continued recording for a short while before returning to painting and giving up performing. Paddie Bell’s solo career was short but she did record a couple of good albums then enjoyed a brief career revival in the 90s. Paddie died aged 74, in 2005.








Worth a listen
Corrie Folk Trio & Paddie Bell
Jug of punch (1963)
Tiree Love Song (1963)
My love she’s but a lassie yet (1965)
Killiecrankie (1965)

The Corries
Flower of Scotland (1969)
I’m a rover (1966)
Highland Lament (1968)
Flower of Scotland (1969)

Robin Hall and Jimmie McGregor
Football Crazy (1960)

The Spinners
Maggie May (1964)
Dirty old town (1964)

Matt McGinn
Ma wee Auntie Sarah (1975)
Heiderum Hauderum (1975)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Jim Diamond (1953 -2015)




Jim Diamond was born in Glasgow in 1953. His father was a fireman and he attended St Mungo Academy, Glasgow. His first band was called The Method and he joined them when he was 15, later he played with Jade, a Glasgow band who moved to London. In the lineup was Chris Glen (bass and "The Sensational Alex Harvey Band") and Jim Lacey (lead guitar) who later joined The Alan Bown Set. Diamond left Jade to join Gully Foyle and toured Europe until he was discovered by Alexis Korner. For the next two years Jim Diamond was a member of the Alexis Korner Band.



He left in 1976 to form Bandit with Cliff Williams (ACDC) and signed for Arista Records. Their debut album failed to chart and Diamond left to join the Japanese band BACCO as their lead singer in 1979. Later he went to LA and formed Slick Diamond with Earl Slick to tour and perform. Back in the UK Jim linked with Tony Hymas (drums and former Jeff Beck Group) and Simon Phillips (piano/keyboard), to form PhD . The name came from the first initial from each of their surnames. The band signed to WEA Records and their debut album in 1981 contained the single "I Won't Let You Down." It peaked at number three in the UK Singles Chart in early 1982.



The follow up single "I Didn't Know," failed to chart in the UK but sold well in Europe. The group disbanded and Jim pursued a solo charting with ”I Should Have Known Better,” in 1984.



In 1986 he released his last top five hit, “Hi Ho Silver” (Theme tune from TV series Boon).



Jim Diamond continued to work and often features as a guest vocalist on other artist’s songs. Laterally Jim Diamond dedicated a lot of time to the Cash for Kids charity appeal in Scotland The singer died suddenly at his London home in 2015.



Worth a listen

I Should Have Known Better (1984)
Hi Ho Silver (1986)

Ph. D.
I Won't Let You Down (1982)