I saw Willie McCallum's CD Hailey's Song for sale on Amazon a few months back when I was looking for a recording of "Rory MacLoude's Lament." It was a used copy, and I guess whoever had it didn't expect that a solo piping CD would be selling too well--I think I ended up getting it, shipping and all, for less than $4. Come to find out, that was about the best $4 I ever spent. Well, it goes without saying that the piping would be good (you can read a bit about Mr. McCallum and his achievements here), but I have never owned a solo album I enjoyed listening to quite this much. The playing is not only technically perfect, but to my ears, very musical, and the tune selection, which includes a couple of pieces I had only previously heard as puirt a beul, is quite delightful. There are plenty of other people in the world better qualified to analyze just why this is a great album, but even with my comparatively limited experience in the piping world, I know what I like to hear, and this is it.
Which brings us to the promised slow air. If you go to this site, which is a branch of Lismor Recording, you can listen to a track from Hailey's Song, the slow air being "Banks of Lochiel," followed by a couple of jigs.
Here is SFU's medley from last year, where you can hear another take on "Banks of Lochiel," (it's also "Braes of Lochiel" or "Braighe Loch Iall," depending on who you ask) at exactly 3:00. Not to give anything away, but they speed it up into a march, and it sounds pretty neat!
Before I leave you in peace for the day, I would like to somewhat change the subject, and return to the Lismor Recordings site. It's a very neat collection of music, and they make certain that you know that. Quite a few of the albums let you sample entire tracks! Indeed, some of the albums, such as those in the World's Greatest Pipers series (Willie McCallum has another great album in #14 of the series), will let you hear each and every tune in its entirity. I am very big on the idea of buying tracks or albums, as you need them, but I very much like to know what I am buying, so this setup is optimal! (The 30 second clips on iTunes are inevitably the 30 seconds you were least curious about.) Their search feature is likewise very user-friendly, allowing you options for searching for an artist, an album, or just a single title. I should add, it's by no means all piping--with fiddling, singing, and plenty else, there should be a little something for everyone over there. By all means, take a look!