1. Sixteen fine and substantial songs make up this excellent compilation album from Ian and Fraser Bruce. The brothers, who played and recorded in the 80’s, have now combined their musical talents again. Five live performances from 2015 combine seamlessly with tracks from their earlier albums. Nowhere is the sense of any material being dated.

 

The brothers perform on guitars and vocals on all the tracks, variously backed by highly competent band members. Ian’s clear and melodic voice is the key feature throughout, although Fraser and he harmonise beautifully, particularly on Broken Down Squatter and Grey Funnel Line.

 

The variety of material prevents any suggestion of repetition. Only two compositions are by Ian, White Flower being new, but there are welcome versions of well-known songs – so that Farewell to The Gold; Ring-A-Rosie and the almost music-hall A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day all find a place. Six traditional songs are covered, including Can Ye Sew Cushions and the haunting, Bonnie Susie Clelland. Two “pop” compositions – Richard Thompson’s Down Where the Drunkards Roll and Al Stewart’s unusual Nostradamus – also get in. 

 

While all these songs retain their original magic, their treatment here gives them a freshness and new life.

 

Jaunty, upbeat, easily accessible, and with 15 sing-along choruses, The Best of Mrs Bruce’s Boys is a highly enjoyable listen and an ideal example of the folk-group genre – it comes close to replicating the feel of a folk-club set.

 

THE BEST OF Mrs. BRUCE's BOYS

Jim McCourt - Living Tradition

  1. It’s a familiar story: talented due plays lots of gigs, record a few albums then go their separate ways. In the case of the Bruce brothers, there were three albums in the early 80’s, before Fraser left for other work and Ian went on to a solo career. Now, thirty years later, they are back together, and celebrating with this album.

 

The first outing on CD sees ten tracks remastered from those long-players of old, coupled with five live recordings of old tracks and one previously unrecorded number. The repertoire is much as one would expect for the time, with Al Stewart, Richard Thompson, Cyril Tawney et al all present and correct.

 

The voices now blend as well as they ever did – in places I am reminded of the Dransfields in the style of unison singing. While the vocal performances are strong and confident, though, the musical arrangements are very perfunctory, and while I can see how this would allow the songs to communicate directly with a live audience, it makes for a rather flat listening experience on disc.

 

THE BEST OF Mrs. BRUCE's BOYS

Oz Hardwick

  1. For those in the UK and Ireland, this is not a play on a well-known comedy series. The Bruce boys already used the title Mrs Bruce’s Boys decades ago. That gives us an idea of the retro value of this CD. The duo was packing in audiences as far back as the 1980’s, when the publicity tells us they appeared on the main stage of no less than 14 music festivals in a single year.

 

Back in those now far off days, the brothers went their separate ways, with Ian continuing in music and having a great career while Fraser decided to go into business.

 

Now to the delight of older fans and to bring the younger generation a taste of some great folk songs, the brothers have reunited to produce a compilation of music including 10 remastered tracks with five re-recorded and a brand new previously unreleased song. Yes, that gives us an album of 16 tracks and, although it seemed to start a bit slowly, by the third track I was hooked.

 

A number of the tracks are live recording and as such pack a great deal of atmosphere into the songs – such as the perennial “A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day” and “The Hills of Isle Au Haut”.

The duo brings us that wonderful mix of the sad and the humorous in a well-produced album. Who could ignore a track like “Can Ye Sew Cushions?” I will leave you to find out the answer when you buy this CD.

It was great hearing Richard Thompson’s “Down Where the Drunkards Roll” and a blast from the past in Cyril Tawney’s “The Grey Funnel Line” that I first enjoyed some decades ago.

 

The album closes with the new release “White Flower”, but I bet that any who listen to this CD will be seeking out the earlier albums of the brothers as well as Ian’s solo works.

 

THE BEST OF Mrs. BRUCE's BOYS

Nicky Rossiter – 19 September 2015

Here is a comment from Mrs. M. Cameron, St. Mary’s Primary School, Stirling

 

A funny touching story which teaches children about the importance of belonging through funny rhymes, engaging characters and interesting illustrations……

 

WEE SHOOBIE REVIEW 2

"....Nobody looks like me!"

Fraser. 

 

Some thoughts on your book. 

 

The central character is immediately likeable and the reader will easily identify with him and with his feelings of not quite fitting in.

The rhyming format is entirely appropriate for young children. They enjoy the rhymes and love being able to predict the ends of the lines. The storyline explores emotions and situations that children are familiar with.

From my experience of teaching young children, I would say that this book could be used to support many areas of the Primary School Curriculum. For example, “Personal and Social Development”, “Reading and Creative Writing”, “Mathematics”, “Art and Design”, “Speech and Drama”, spring readily to mind. 

 

I would find enough inspiration on each page for a whole week's activities.  

 

Please feel free to use all or any of the above comments as you see fit.

 

Regards,

Susan Craik, Aberfeldy. 

WEE SHOOBIE REVIEW 1

"....Nobody looks like me!"

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