First Released: Unknown - possibly early 70s, but recorded from at least 1943
What The Album Blurb Says...
Robert Wilson was born in a Glasgow suburb in 1909 and from a very early age had the burning ambition to become a singer.
He first broke into the entertainment world when he bacame a memeber of a concert party at Rothsay, on the Isle of Bute. While savouring the applause that these rather small beginnings brought him, he had the good sense to realise that he needed years of study and hard work to reach the top of his chosen profession. To this end he joined and stayed with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company for several years, touring America, Canada and Great Britiain, and from this he gained vast experience which was most valuable to his future career. In 1939 he decided that the time had come for him to enter the Variety scene as a solo artist - and how right his judgement proved to be. What with his magnificent voice, charming personality and superb stage presentation his success was almost immediate, and he soon became 'top of the bill' wherever he appeared. Not only was he starred in every medium of the entertainment world, but he was particularly acclaimed by exiled Scots both near and far who, like those in the Homeland, saw in his grand voice and fine physique the very embodiment of a true son of Scotland. No one wore the Kilt more proudly or better than he.
Much to the regret of all who heard him, Bob Wilson, as he was affectionately known to his many friends, died in 1964, but there remains a wealth of those great Scottish songs which he recorded during his lifetime and for which we have received many requests. The fourteen songs presented in this album illustrate why his was generally acclaimed to be "The voice of Scotland".
There's one thing that the Scots are very good at. Actually, before I get myself into trouble, I should point out that I'm sure that there are lots of things that Scots are good at. Lots and lots. Really. But one area in which they excel is being Scottish. I mean proper, professionally Scottish. How many 'professional' Welsh or Irish people can you think of? Max Boyce, Daniel O'Donnel, Terry Wogan maybe... People for whom one of their distinguishing features is their nationality. OK, now think of professional English people. I'll give you Steven Fry, and I'll accept David Niven, even though he's dead. Any more...? No, see. And yet without putting any real effort into it, the Scots can proudly boast The Proclaimers, Billy Connolly, Moira Anderson, Harry Lauder, Sean Connery, Carol Smillie, and of course, the Krankies. OK, that may be stretching the definition of 'proudly boast', but I hope you get my point.
They say that the most Scottish part of Scotland is just over the border from England, where the difference between countries is clearly marked. Tartan and Saltires everywhere. It seems that the Scots have a very clear cultural identity, and the business nous to translate that into profitable entertainment. Our Robert Wilson (or Bob, as we must call him) falls strictly into this 'Professionally Scottish' category. You only have to look at the album cover to know what you're getting. A burly man in a skirt, sorry, a kilt, his face red from the harsh highland wind rolling off the moors and the whisky he has on his porridge. His pose is also extremely Scottish, though I can't quite figure out why. I assume it's meant to reflect Bob about to launch into a Highland Fling - right hand tucked in his belt, left knee slightly raised. Tunic and tie making him look like a policeman about to knee some poor suspect in the knackers. Delightful.
And the songs don't disappoint. Well, they do if you don't like maudlin songs about your wet, dour homeland, but let's assume for a moment that they're the very reason you bought this album. The choice of songs is absolutely perfect. It's 'The Greatest Scottish Songs In The Whole World Ever' for our parent's generation. Some of the arrangements however are... well, on the camp side of traditional, shall we say. When I first listened to 'Scotland The Brave' (which you'd expect to be the standout track here), I was transported back to a Saturday evening in the 70s, with the Two Ronnies about to do their musical number dressed as a pair of Highland Infantrymen making suggestive songs about Gay Gordons. The arrangement is pure Ronnie Hazlehurst. Actually, it is the standout track on the album, because it's the only one that sounds vaguely happy or interesting. The rest conjure up a wet Wednesday in Aberdeen with incredibly clarity.
The problem is that I don't think Bob sings very well. His voice, described elsewhere on this internet of ours as a 'rich baritone' sounds to my uneducated ears as a thin, weedy and reedy baritone. That doesn't even always hold the tune particularly well. This album was released after he'd died. I have to wonder if it was also recorded then too....
This man was called 'The Voice Of Scotland' which is a bit worrying. I could accept 'The Voice of Arbroath' which would allow for bigger and better voices to represent the nation. So don't judge the Scots too harshly. Though I do wonder who's the 'Ears of Scotland'.
However, I do have one small niggle. From 1997 to 1999 I lived in Galway, and I'm sure, absolutely positive that it was on the West Coast of Ireland, and not in Scotland. It seems therefore that this song is an IMPOSTER, and should be removed immediately. Unless they're playing the Celtic card, in which case of course, everything is fair game.
By the way, our Bob Wilson, is not this Bob Wilson, one time goalie for Arsenal...
Nor is he this Bob Wilson, who's an English Lecturer, and posessor of one of the finest hair confections known to man...
And this is the Krankies. I think the Scottish Government should apologise immediately.
1. Westering Home
2. Scotland The Brave
4. Down In The Glen
5. Bonnie Mary Of Argyle
6. Marchin' Thru' The Glen
7. The Black Watch
1. The Gay Gordons
2. The Road To The Isles
3. Hills O' The Clyde
4. Galway Bay
5. My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose
6. The Gathering Of The Clans
7. My Scottish Homeland.
4 out of 10