The Scotsman Sessions #181: Mungo's Hi Fi & Cian Finn

Welcome to the award-winning Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, Glasgow-based sound system Mungo’s Hi Fi team up with vocalist Cian Finn for a dub-infused rendition of Wild Mountain Thyme

Glasgow-based sound system Mungo’s Hi Fi have been sending out the transatlantic dub vibrations and self-styled “forward thinking reggae music” for the past 20 years, via their club nights and their catalogue of albums, singles and mixes, featuring collaborators ranging from Jamaican legend Max Romeo to soulful Bristol-based vocalist Eva Lazarus.

Their latest foil is vocalist and producer Cian Finn, onetime singer of Irish reggae outfit Intinn, who fronts their deliciously dub-infused rendition of the Celtic classic Wild Mountain Thyme – which he has reprised for the Scotsman Sessions from his Galway base.

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“I love this tune as it’s something my mother sang to me, and I used to sing it to my kids to get them to sleep,” says founding Mungo’s member Doug Payne. “We recorded Cian’s distinctive take on Wild Mountain Thyme when he came to play with us in Glasgow around 2015. He swore it was an Irish song, and I was sure it was Scottish – to some extent we were both right as the original words were penned by Scottish poet Robert Tannahill around 1800 but the folk song [Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go] was first recorded by Belfast’s Francis McPeake in 1948.”

Cian Finn

It’s a measure of the timeless melody and the wistful sentiments that the song can be so seamlessly repurposed as a reggae tune.

“There is an interesting parallel with the folk and dub traditions,” says Payne. “Both make allowance for reworking as part of the process. So our own version of King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown forms the backing track here. We originally released it as a 7-inch on vinyl only, and it was so popular we featured it as the opening track from our most recent compilation in the Puffers Choice series.”

Puffers Choice Vol.3 is available now on Scotch Bonnet Records, https://scotchbonnetrecords.bandcamp.com/

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