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Monday, 4 June 2012

Little Fire - Burns

For many people the works of Robert Burns belong with one foot in the distant past, and the other in the candlelit function rooms hired by the affluent around the 25th of January.
Most would accept that there's a half truth in that.
For many years I considered the works of Burns indecipherable, and his poems belonging to a class that was above my station.
That it isn't the case is not something I would care to apologise for misguidedly believing though.
The reason that I will refrain from apologising is because it was my reality.
The blame, for this misguided view from my younger years can be laid at the feet of those who participated in creating a certain understanding of Burns.
The people who treated him to a pr spin, and by doing so created a version of the man who very often has no bearing on who he was.
Over many, many years he has been physically taken from the inns and fields where he regaled his peers, and found himself transplanted into the parlours and personal libraries of the wealthy.
An environment where he lives on within the pages of leather bound books that reside on shelves, and very often behind glass displays that would never fit in a council single end.
Apart from a brush with Burns at school, he is often the look but don't touch national Bard for many of us.
Thankfully there are currently people who are looking to challenge this perception, and in doing so drag Burns into the here and now for a well overdue reappraisal of who he is, what he was saying, and how his words are as relevant as they were when he lived and breathed the Ayrshire air.
One of the people, among many, who is doing this is Jamie 'Little Fire' McGeechan who has went from casually championing the works of Burns to actively pushing it to the fore.
His latest project, designed to highlight that Burns belongs to us all, is the recording of an album simply called 'Burns' that features ten contemporary re-workings of his material.
Similar to how there has been many reinterpretations of the plays of William Shakespeare that have opened the door to a whole new appreciative audience, this is a body of work that could do like wise.
It has a quiet and relaxed feel to it that is beguilingly beautiful in its folk inspired elegance.
Little Fires voice is a magnificent vehicle for the material, and the pairing of it with the words of Burns comes across as a match made in heaven.
The album in a strange way reminds me of when Bono introduced Helter Skelter with 'This is a song Charles Manson stole from The Beatles. We're stealing it back', but in this instance Little Fire is stealing it back from those with the cut glass accents and a penchant for for fox hunting. 
It's about time.

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