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World Music CD Reviews North American

TONY CUFFE

By ROB WEIR
Published May 5, 2006

Sae Will We Yet
Greentrax

Tony Cuffe (1954-2001) did something few musicians have the chance to do: he recorded his own tribute album. Sae Will We Yet, named after one of Cuffe’s favorite traditional songs, is a dazzling collection of material, most never previously released and some recorded mere months before his passing. It contains new versions of songs he performed while fronting such seminal Scottish bands as Jock Tamson’s Bairns and Ossian, but most are new renderings after his 1989 move to Massachusetts (including work with the Windbags). Cuffe was known for dry but expressive vocals and heavily accented guitar work, so precise he tossed off difficult pipe tunes as if child’s play. He also mastered the harp, playing with the same delicacy as former Ossian mate William Jackson (the two also performed duets, one of which is on the album). Sae Will We Yet features flashes of Scottish mouth music, mystical murder ballads, gentle love songs, as well as a Cuffe original (“The Bonny Lassie”), already proclaimed “traditional” by unknowing cover singers.