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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introductory compilation of an outstanding artist, 17 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Aye - The Best Of Martyn Bennett (Audio CD)
The compilers of this collection have done a splendid job, all things considered. Of the eleven tracks, there are two each from three of Martyn's solo albums, and then five tracks (including from Cuillin) that you might be seriously hard pushed to find without a lot of hard work, some good fortune and perhaps spending over the odds. The original recordings were released across several different record labels, which always makes it a challenge to get necessary permissions to include everything that might be wished for. Martyn had collaborated with several other artists not represented here.

The tracks "Crackcorn" and "Paisley Spin" included here are previously unreleased. The CD booklet also lists another previously unreleased track, which is available only as a download. The CD booklet lacks a little clarity for the uninitiated in how to do such a thing. Essentially you need to be using a computer connected to the internet, and registered with i-tunes. Since I wasn't actually already registered with i-tunes myself, I needed first to download that programme to install it onto my hard-drive, agree all the terms and conditions after reading them, provide my credit card details, then search the i-tunes library. In all it took about five minutes and I'm listening to the track now as I type this. The track "Mackay's Memoirs" is over 14 minutes long and includes choirs, pipes, electronics, spoken word and more; it is extremely uplifting.

The CD itself is accompanied by a 20-page booklet that is printed in a nice matt finish on good quality paper - which contains a decent amount of information about each of the selections.

If you are already familiar with Martyn Bennett's contribution to music, you may perhaps wonder why the compilers chose the tracks they did. I guess we all have our favourites - but this set does work well in the order they've been sequenced. It's around 66 minutes of quality music, so good value for a single disc collection.

For those unfamiliar with Martyn Bennett: the man was genuinely special. He was steeped in generations of folk music traditions, and his own talent was recognised at an early age by receiving scholarships for a serious academic musical training. He was multi-talented, at home on pipes, fiddle or with studio electronics. Crucially, he was around at a time when music technology was enabling the development of new forms. Indeed, he was at the forefront. If you enjoy modern crossover acts like, let's say, Massive Attack, Leftfield, Afro Celt Sound System, or Imagined Village, then you should find this right up your street.

The legend goes something along the lines that one day Martyn went out busking with his fiddle. When he turned on his backing tape, he realised that he'd got the wrong one. Rather than go back home, he played his traditional folk tunes along to some rave type dance music - receiving an enthusiastic response from all who heard it. Realising he was onto something, he was able to use his natural talent and formal skills to hone and polish his ideas. Before long he was playing major festivals and being invited to heady institutional events as a Scottish national treasure. You can find a lot more information and the real story by visiting the website dedicated to his memory.

Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just stunning, 7 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Aye - The Best Of Martyn Bennett (Audio CD)
Just a stunningly good album. What would the Scottish music scene be like if he hadn't passed away?

Note that the CD is missing Mackay's Memoirs, recorded the day he died. You'll have to download that.

R.I.P Martyn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Musical Adventurer, Aye - a Worthy Selection!, 11 Sep 2013
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Barry McGloin "Baz" (Canberra, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Aye - The Best Of Martyn Bennett (Audio CD)
Aye is a best of Martyn Bennett, surprisingly without Hallaig, his adaption of the poem by Sorley MacLean from the Bothy Culture album, a superb track and one which I would have included. That said, Bothy Culture stands in its own right and would be my first choice for the uninitiated, given its availability, cost, abounding fun and - by comparison with Grit - pastoral ha ha, well... less industrial dance beats!

Aye contains two tracks from Bothy Culture - Ud The Doudouk and 4 Notes, two from Grit - Blackbird and Liberation, two from his eponymous first album - Swallowtail and Stream, two from Hardland - Harry's In Heaven and Distortion Pipe. In addition there is a remix of Peter Gabriel's Sky Blue and two unreleased tracks Paisley Spin and Crackhorn.

The album booklet also states that 'MacKay's Memoirs is an exclusive track that is available for download only'. The booklet provides the history behind the track but does not say where it might be obtained. Another reviewer suggested ITunes and so I downloaded it from there for AUD3.39. It is a wonderful piece of music which shows Martyn's formal compositional abilities, featuring orchestra with choir, pipes, clarsach and voice and it was performed at the opening of the new Scottish Parliament. The performance on the download is by Mr McFall's Chambers who have released an album of Martyn's music called Birds & Beasts. MacKay's Memoirs had me smiling with pleasure and then gave me a lump in the throat when I thought that the creative mind and personality behind it are no longer with us. But thankfully we have his legacy.

Martyn Bennett was the first folk musician to win a scholarship to the City of Edinburgh Music School where he was trained in classical composition for three years. He then studied violin and piano at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, while playing bagpipes at pub sessions. After graduation he was attracted to the dance and rave scene 'as it encapsulates the same musical ethos. It is principally about sound and scale, tension and release, power and detail - much like an orchestral canvas'. Much more information can be viewed on his generous and attractive website [...]

This album is full of excellent material, and if you have an adventurous open minded approach to music you should love it. I have Bothy Culture and Grit, but the other tracks here are well worth getting, plus the aforementioned MacKay's Memoirs. The booklet is very attractive, with photos, a fine essay by Sue Wilson, and the background to each inclusion.

Martyn Bennett melded the traditional and modern in a new way which to him was natural, not incongruous, a reflection of modern Scotland, including its multiculturalism. There is mirth but also respect - reverence even, humility and grandeur, mayhem and awe - you sense that it brought him great joy as he cast 'the old ways in new surroundings' and transformed his studio into 'a chamber of sheer sensual delight'. May the delight be yours.
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Aye - The Best Of Martyn Bennett
Aye - The Best Of Martyn Bennett by Martyn Bennett (Audio CD - 2012)
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