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Dick Gaughan

An Introduction To



Released: 29th Jun 2018


Described by The Scotsman as “One of the most powerful, passionate, accomplished and singular talents to have emerged from post-war Scotland,” Dick Gaughan’s work has been consistently innovative and challenging both in message and form.

A professional musician and singer since January 1970, Gaughan started out on the Edinburgh folk scene with a deep belief in the socialist commitment of traditional song and made the first of his two solo albums - No More Forever - for Bill Leader’s Trailer label in 1971. He joined the Boys of the Lough (with Aly Bain) during 1972 and plays on their self-titled debut album. ‘Bonnie Woodha’ on this selection features Gaughan singing with the group in 1975. By then he had formed the renowned Scottish electric folk band Five Hand Reel. Between 1975 and 1978 Gaughan’s working life was frenzied. As well as making three albums with Five Hand Reel, he recorded two of the three Topic albums featured here, the all-instrumental Coppers and Brass in 1975 and Gaughan in 1978. One of the songs here from Gaughan, Dominic Behan’s ‘Crooked Jack’ is a fine example of his innovative electric guitar playing. From the same album, Gaughan’s version of ‘Willie O’ Winsbury’ is beautifully understated. Gaughan’s final album for Topic appeared in 1981 and was the first he recorded in Scotland; it’s his most successful album in terms of both acclaim and sales. An album of stunning intensity it bridges contemporary relevance and historical context in its mix of traditional and modern songs and established him as a major force in folk music. The non-traditional material is highly politically charged; Ed Pickard’s vitriolic ‘Workers’ Song’ [‘The Pound A Week Rise’ from Gaughan is another of Pickard’s great miners’ songs], and Leon Rosselson’s anthem for radicals ‘World Turned Upside Down’ for example, but his own reworking of the traditional ‘Both Sides of the Tweed’ is a remarkable achievement calling for Scottish independence without sacrificing reconciliation with those across the border. A Handful of Earth was Melody Maker’s Album of the Year in 1981 but never lost its resonance; it was voted Album of the Decade for the 1980s in both the Readers’ and Critics’ polls in Folk Roots. Described by John Peel as one of the five or six great voices of our time, Gaughan is a stunning singer. in December 2009 Dick Gaughan was inducted into the Scots Traditional Music Hall of Fame. Then, less than two months later in London, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at BBC Radio 2’s annual Folk Awards ceremony. The award was presented by Neil Finn of Crowded House who had flown from New Zealand at his own expense to be there. Dirty Linen magazine described Dick Gaughan as “Scotland’s head and conscience.” They should have added heart and soul. Comprehensive Press and on-line push as well as advertising in fRoots, Songlines and all other good folk publicatons. Reviews confirmed in fRoots, Songlines, English Folk Dance & Song , RnR magazines. Topic Records main feature Record Collector magazine.

An Introduction To


  1. Both Sides The Tweed
  2. The Pound A Week Rise
  3. Bonnie Wooda’
  4. Copper & Brass
  5. The Gander on the Pratie Hole
  6. Crooked Jack
  7. Gillie Mor The Flowing Tide
  8. The Fairies Hornpipe
  9. World Turned Upside Down
  10. Song For Ireland
  11. Workers Song
  12. Planxty Johnson
  13. The Snow They Melt The Soonest
  14. Scarecrow
  15. Willie O’Winsbury