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The Best of Aly & Phil

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Album Review

As a duo, Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham have developed a remarkable empathy over the years, and the ability to come up with some remarkable melodies, the best of which, like the beautiful "Sarah's Song," are included here. Their Scots-based music usually has a lovely lilt, based around the ceilidh, as on "The Jig Runrig." While most of these pieces will be familiar to those who own their albums, there are some lovely early pieces, like a couple of tracks from a 1988 television show. Both the headliners get to showcase their talents, but even on a glorious slow air like "Violet Tulloch Queen of Lerwick" they never forget that their music is for dancing. They cover the full range of Scotland, from the Shetlands even down across the border into Northumbria, with a small detour to French Canada for a set of tunes and America for "Waiting for the Federals" (one of the new recordings, along with a take on Robert Burns' "A Man's a Man for A' That"). They're well grounded, as comfortable with traditional material as their own compositions. It's a testament to their musicality that the melodies shine through so brightly on everything and that there's such a loving beauty to it all.

Customer Reviews

Thanks for the tears.

Aly and Phil, particularly in the airs, can send my mind across the ages and distances travelled by the Celtic people. I can close my eyes, listen to the music, and feel the love, sadness, and joy of the spread of these wonderful people who gave their DNA to me and their music to the world. Thanks guys.

The Best of Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham is very, very good

These two musicians create a glorious musical synthesis in their playing together. Under their hands, tunes meld and swirl like hot chocolate over vanilla icecream. Sarah's Song is a poignant example of their ability to harmonize with great grace. Another one, perhaps even better is Violet Tulloch Queen of Lerwick. Yet another winner is Sophie's Lullaby. Each is approached with intensel lyricism. A Man's a Man for A'That deserves and gets playing that unfolds the deep emotion found within. They are masters of the slow air, and if that is your pleasure, you will be greatly delighted.


Born: May 15, 1946 in Lerwick, Shetland, Scotland

Genre: World

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Aly Bain is a master of the Shetland, Scotland style of fiddling. A member of the Boys of the Lough since 1971, Bain has been a featured contributor on albums by Richard Thompson, Bert Jansch, Connie Dover, and Jay Ungar. In addition to several solo albums, Bain has recorded and toured in a duo that he shares with ex-Silly Wizard accordionist/keyboardist Phil Cunningham. He collaborated with Norwegian composer Henning Sommerro on an album of Shetland and Norwegian music, Songs of the Sea. Bain...
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