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I'm a Doun for Lack O'Johnnie - Single

The Single CD of I'm a Doun for Lack O'Johnnie



A Review by Vpa

Only one of the three tracks is straight classical music, but the other two are classically-influenced, so notes about this CD are included on this Website.
  1. I'm a Doun for Lack O'Johnnie (A Little Scottish Fantasy) 4:29
  2. 3rd Movement from Bruch's Scottish Fantasy 6:44
  3. Red Hot (Symphonic Mix) 4:29

I’m a-doun for Lack O’Johnnie
This is Vanessa-Mae’s own arrangement, which is based on the same old Scottish ballad as the third movement of Bruch’s "Scottish Fantasy. This is the same song as on CLASSICAL ALBUM 1, and it is also on STORM; all three are identical.
The song is really three different songs blended together: an opening vocals, a violin solo, and an African rhythm on drums with a few words of vocals plus a few chords of electric guitar. The opening part is Vanessa-Mae singing an old Scottish ballad, with the words in old Celtic-English. At the end of this (about a minute), the African song starts to blend in with a few words of male voices singing an African language, then the drums. The drums continue in the background through the rest of the piece. I'm not sure if the drums are electronic or real. The electric guitar becomes more prominent later in the song -- is this the first use of electric guitar in classical music, or is it proof that this isn't classical music? The main song is a violin solo by Vanessa-Mae, which has some similarities to the violin part of the 3rd Movement of Bruch's Scottish Fantasy. The song is about a Scottish girl longing for her lover who is far away; so the violin part is the Scottish girl and the drums in the distance symbolizes her lover. It's an interesting piece.
The song is interesting for three other reasons, also. First, it is Vanessa-Mae's debut as a singer; she sings a lot more on STORM and that album has two entire songs which are her vocals. Also, the song is her second-biggest commercial hit and one of only two songs that reached the British Top 40. (The other being her fusion version of "Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor".) Another interesting thing about this song is that it is the first piece which has composition credits solely to Vanessa-Mae.
Bruch's Scottish Fantasy, 3rd Movement
This is Max Bruch's arrangement of the same traditional Scottish ballad, from around the turn of the century. The melody is similar to the title track but Vanessa--Mae's violin is backed by a full orchestra rather by electronics.
The same piece is on CLASSICAL ALBUM 1 but the performance is a little different. The version on the single CD is a live recording, which is also on the LIVE AT BERLIN PHILHARMONIE video. The recording on CLASSICAL ALBUM 1 is a little better than this one, being a little bit cleaner and brighter. CLASSICAL ALBUM 1 was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra whereas LIVE AT BERLIN was performed with the Bratslavia Radio Symphony Orchestra. But there is not much difference unless you listen very closely; Vanessa-Mae's performance is very good in both. A few seconds of applause at the end of this live version doesn't add much to this song, but it should be noted that this is the applause between the 3rd and 4th movements not the applause at the end of Scottish Fantasy. Also, the ending of the piece is different between the two versions, being longer and more gradual in the live version than in the studio recording.
Red Hot Symphonic Mix
This is a version of Vanessa-Mae's electric-violin song arranged for an orchestra. The symphonic version is also on the LIVE AT BERLIN video but not on any albums.
"Red Hot" has now appeared in three different forms. The original rock version for electric violin and electric guitar was on THE VIOLIN PLAYER. A more synthesizer-heavy version "Red Hot Live Mix" was on THE ALTERNATIVE and one of the singles. Now this Symphonic version is for electric violin backed by an orchestra. Most Vanessa-Mae fans as well as myself feel that the Symphonic version is the best of the three. "Red Hot" is something of an anthem for Vanessa-Mae. Until recently, it was always used to close each of her concerts regardless of whether it is a rock concert or a symphonic concert; and it is the name of one of best fan sites.
Success of this single
The title track was one of two Vanessa-Mae songs to reach the British Top 40 charts, the other being "Tocatta & Fugue in D Minor". Both of these have been pop arrangements of classical music, so in a sense one can say that Vanessa-Mae has put classical music on the Top 40 charts.
It doesn't matter; you probably can't buy this single any more anyway.


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