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Folk Music Of The British Isles & Europe


The New St. George -> Pyewackett

THE NEW ST. GEORGE Folk Era 1415 High Tea ● CD $14.98
12 tracks, 46 mins, highly recommended The New St. George are a band based in Takoma Park, Maryland who perform traditional and contemporary English folk rock. Two of the members are ex-patriate Limey's - the band's leader Jennifer Cutting who plays melodeon and keyboards and did the arrangements here and singer/ guitarist and mandolin player Bob Hitchcock. The rest of the band are home grown and featuring the excellent Lisa Moscatiello on vocals and various stringed instruments, Rico Petruccelli/ bass and Juan Dudley/ drums & percussion. The traditional songs are a mixture of familiar (Streams Of Lovely Nancy/Our Captain Cried "All Hands", etc) and uncommon (The Mermaid and my favorite - the incredibly bawdy The Steggie). There are a couple of contemporary songs including the powerful All The Tea In India by Cutting about the effect of the British established tea trade on the people of India and John Martin's powerful anti-war song Don't You Go. The disc is rounded out by several sprightly instrumental pieces. An excellent disc - if you enjoy the Albion Band or Fairport Convention you should get a kick out of this. (FS)

THE OYSTER BAND Omnium 2023 Here I Stand ● CD $15.98
1999 album.

THE OYSTER BAND Recall 148 Pearls From The Oyster ● CD $15.98
Budget priced two CD set featuring 30 of this superb group's recordings drawn from albums made in the mid/late 80s. Lots of great performances like Between The Wars/ Another Quiet Night In England/ The Lakes Of Cool Flynn/ Coal Not Dole/ New York Girls/ The Generals Are Born Again and others.

THE OYSTER BAND Rykodisc RCD 10237 Deserters ● CD $12.98
While other English bands are trying to sound more Cajun or Balkan or Klezmer or whatever, the Oysters are sticking with their winning sound: straight rhythms, singable hooks, and gloomy lyrics about civilization's decay. This album is a more unified and successful effort than was their last. It sports ten originals plus the most ominous Bells of Rhymney ever attempted. There are occasional stylistic hat tips to the Moody Blues, U2, and Horseflies, among others. John Jones' vocals continually recall the Moodys, while Ian Telfer's taut fiddle sound always lurks in the background to keep things tense. With this album so clearly targeted at neo-noir college radio, it's curious how many people still insist the Oysters are a folk band. (DC)

THE OYSTER BAND Varrick 034 Step Outside ● CD $16.98
I've always enjoyed The Oyster Band but have often felt that their performances were a little restrained. On this 1987 album they have pulled out all the stops and have produced not only their best album by far but probably the best English electric folk album for a long time. The group have added an excellent drummer Russel Lax and have brought in a new producer Clive Gregson. Lead vocalist John Jones is singing with more power and authority than ever and Alan Prosser has taken a giant step forward in his electric guitar playing - there are certainly elements of Richard Thompson in his style but that's all to the good - it is always appropriate and imaginative. The songs are a mixture of traditional and originals and are a masterly bunch. The old favorite Hal-an-Tow gets a new lease of life with an almost rockabilly approach. the other traditional songs are equally stunning. The closing Bold Riley, almost unaccompanied,is a truly beautiful performance with superb lead by Jones and almost doowop harmonies from the rest of the group. The original songs are the band's best yet continuing their cynical view of England in the 80s. All are good with Another Quiet Night In England being exceptional with one of those catchy melodies that is so memorable. This album is a must. (FS)

WALTER PARDON Topic TSCD 514 A World Without Horses ● CD $15.98
20 tracks, 70 mins, highly recommended 19 songs and one brief spoken passage from one of the greatest English traditional singers. Walter came to the attention of a British folk audience in the 70s, thanks to the efforts of Peter Bellamy, and made a great impression with his live performances and recordings. This compilation is drawn from recordings made between 1974 and 1980. Walter had a wonderful voice - warm and unaffected and with a conviction that really draws you into the songs. The songs are familiar titles but Walter's versions are often not the ones you are familiar with - sometimes the lyrics are different, sometimes the tune and sometimes both - The Rambling Blade/ The Bold Fisherman/ The Bush Of Australia/ The Bold Princess Royal/ The Deserter/ Two Jolly Butchers/ The Handsome Cabin Boy/ The Cunning Cobbler/ A British Man Of War and others. The 36 page booklet features notes by Michael Yates and lyric transcripts. I had the privilege of seeing Walter perform in the early 80s and have fond memories of his music, his warm personality and the twinkle in his eye when he sang the slightly risqué Bush Of Australia (FS)

CHRIS PARKINSON Pan 147 Out Of His Tree ● CD $14.98
12 tracks, 59 mins, recommended A delightful collection of mostly traditional tunes performed by this fine melodeon player best known as a member of the splendid House Band. Chris's playing is light and imaginative but never flashy. The material is mostly English, Irish or Scottish along with a couple from other parts of the world. It's mostly solo with occasional piano or percussion accompaniment. (FS)

BOB PEGG Rhiannon 5009 The Last Wolf ● CD $22.98

PENTANGLE Castle Music America 632 Basket Of Light ● CD $11.98
CD issue of Pentangle's 3rd LP from 1969. Produced by Shel Talmy (!), better known for his myriad successes with the Kinks and other Brit chart-toppers. Includes their beautiful Once I Had A Sweetheart, their unlikely cover of Sally Go 'Round The Roses, plus Hunting Song/ Train Song/ The Cuckoo/ Light Flight/ House Carpenter (dig that crazy sitar!), etc.

PENTANGLE Castle Music America 633 Sweet Child ● CD $11.98
19 songs from folk-rock pioneers Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Danny Thompson, Terry Cox and Jacqui McShee, including Market Song/ Bruton Town/ I Loved A Lass/ The Trees They Do Grow High.

PENTANGLE Castle Music America 634 Cruel Sister ● CD $11.98
Early 70's Pentangle, when they were producing epic works like the 18-minute Jack Orion. Also contains A Maid That's Deep In Love/ When I Was In My Prime/ Lord Franklin/ Cruel Sister.

PENTANGLE Shanachie 79066 A Maid That's Deep In Love ● CD $14.98
Essentially a "Best Of" collection of the groups late 60s/ early 70s TRansatlantic recordings. There has been no shortage of reissues of their recordings so you'll need to compare track listings to see if you already have these. If not, this is a perfect introduction to the rceordings of this fine and important group (John Renbour, Bert Jansch, Jacqui McShee, Terry Cox & Danny Thompson) - A Maid That's Deep In Love/ Lord Franklin/ Rain And Snow/ Cruel Sister/ Wedding Dress/ Omie Wise/ Will the Circle Be Unbroken/ When I Was In My Prime/ When I Get Home.

PENTANGLE Shanachie 79078 Early Classics ● CD $14.98
In 1968 and '69, John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, Jacqui McShee, Danny Thompson, and Terry Cox got together as Pentangle, changing British folk music forever. It's more than 30 years now and it's gratifying to hear how well the early recordings stand up to time. These are really remarkably beautiful and, for the time, daring experiments with ancient ballads viewed through the lens of the 60s and merged with blues, jazz, and more. Shanachie has culled 14 cuts from Pentangle's first 3 albums, for a first-rate taste of the breadth of style and mood the band pulled off both in the studio and live. There are some oddities, like Pentangling and Mirage, two very 60s relics, and Train Song, which starts out with weird pan shifts, as if the engineer was swinging the mic in front of the guitar. Some of the live recording quality doesn't transfer that well to CD technology, but the emotion of the perfomance more than makes up for it. Still classics after all these years. (DC)

PENTANGLE Varrick 026 In The Round ● CD $16.98

BRIAN PETERS Harbour Town HARCD 021 The Seeds Of Time ● CD $22.98
I like this one a lot - it reminds me of the halcyon days of the late 70s when singers like Nic Jones, Dave Burland, Chris Foster, Steve Turner and others were at their peak singing great songs traditional and modern and playing their instruments skillfully but without flash and bombast. Which is not to say that this disc is anachronistic but rather that it reminds us just how rewarding simplicity can be. Peters is a splendid and extremely expressive singer and a fine instrumentalist on concertina, melodeon and guitar. On various tracks he is joined by Gordon Tyrall/ guitar, George Faux/ fiddle, Peader Long/ saxophone and Margaret Peters/ vocals. The songs include the traditional - Cropper Lads/ The Lowlands Of Hollnad and the grim False Foudrage sung to the beautiful tune of Lord Gregory and contemporary - Leon Rosselson's History Lesson, Paul Connor's A Servant Of The Company, Nic Jones'The Ruins By The Shore and his own Living In the Past That Never Was. The instrumentals include a fair number of jigs and hornpipes from the North of England along with a couple of lovely airs from Scotland. A very fine release. (FS)

BRIAN PETERS Pugwash 002 Sharper Than The Thorn ● CD $22.98

BRIAN PETERS Pugwash 003 The Beast In The Box ● CD $22.98
16 tracks, 63 mins, highly recommended Brian Peters is an outstanding performer who deserves to be better known - he's a superb and powerful singer and a brilliant melodeon and anglo concertina player and chooses his material, mostly traditional, with exquisite taste. Many of the instrumentals are 18th century pieces from the North of England along with some tunes from Holland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland plus a number of originals. Only four vocals but they are terrific - two American songs New Railroad and Working On A Pushboat, one of my favorite English songs Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy and Robin Williamson's October Song sounding very different to the Incredible String Band version. (FS)

BRIAN PETERS & GORDON TYRRALL Harbour Town HARCD 31 Clear The Road ● CD $22.98
Collection of mostly traditional songs and tunes featuring this talented due - vocals with accordion and guitar.

PHILIP PICKETT Hannibal 1416 The Bones Of All Men ● CD $14.98
8 tracks, 45 mins, highly recommended Delightful instrumental collection of early music, mostly from the 16th century performed by early music performer and folk rocker Pickett on recorders, crumhorns, shawms, curtals and symphony joined by his wife Sharona Joshua on various Renaissance era keyboards, the "Heifitz of the medieval fiddle" Pavlo Bezonosiuk and some guys you may have heard of - Richard Thompson, Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg & Dave Mattacks. The overall feel brings to mind some of Ashley Hutching's productions from the 70s like "The Prospect Before Us" and "The Complete Dancing Master". Produced by Joe Boyd and engineered by Jerry Boys - another couple of familiar names! This disk will transport you to the 16th century and the 1970s at the same time! (FS)

POACHERS POCKET Wild Goose WGS 267 Fair Game ● CD $16.98
13 tracks, 48 mins, very good Entertaining collection of traditional and contemporary songs and tunes from this English group accompanying themselves on mandolin, guitar, bass, fiddle, accordion, etc. Various members take their turn at the vocals - songs include Paul Brady's Luck Of The Draw, the McGarrigles A Heart LIke A Wheel and others. Most of the instrumental sets are of traditional tunes. Nothing exceptional here but the performances are pleasing enough. (FS)

THE POOZIES Compass 4290 Raise Your Head (A Retrospective) ● CD $14.98
14 tracks retrospective of this excellent all woman group drawn from their three CDs and their rare 5 track EP. A collection of traditional and contemporary songs and tunes featuring the dual harp playing of Mary McMaster & Patsy Seddon, the accordion of Karen Tweed and the lead vocals of Sally Barker or Kate Rusby.

MADDY PRIOR Park 20 Year ● CD $14.98

MADDY PRIOR Park 28 Memento: The Best Of ● CD $14.98
18 cuts, 67 min, good Compilation selected by the lead singer of Steeleye Span of her favorite solo work from 7 LPS released from 1977-94. As the releases have been a bit uneven in songs and arrangements, this allows one to enjoy the best from "Changing Winds" (2 nice cuts), "Woman In The Wings" (2), "Going For Glory" (3), "Happy Families" (5), "Year" (1), "Hooked On Winning" (2) & the classic 1st "Silly Sisters" (2). The songs and arrangements are still uneven, but the vocals are always grand. With a fine new version of Deep In The Darkest Night and a new song, Mater Dolorosa. (JM)

MADDY PRIOR Park PRKCD 38 Flesh & Blood ● CD $14.98

MADDY PRIOR Park PRKCD 49 Ravenschild ● CD $14.98
Lovely new album from the always great sounding Ms Prior. The songs are a mix of traditional songs, transformed traditional songs and a suite of original songs dealing with the mythology and realities of the raven.

MADDY PRIOR & JUNE TABOR Shanachie 79040 Silly Sisters ● CD $14.98

MADDY PRIOR & JUNE TABOR Shanachie 79069 Silly Sisters: No More To The Dance ● CD $14.98
In 1976 two of England's finest folk singers June Tabor and Maddy Prior sang together as Silly Sisters and toured and recorded with some of the finest musicians on the folk scene to produce one of the best folk albums of the 70s. 12 years later they reunited and recorded this album which will be one of the best of the 80s. Over the years both singers' voices have gotten richer and deeper - singing together their voices blend and weave in a magical way. The songs are mostly traditional and are drawn from a variety of sources - there are also a couple of more recent songs including Lal Waterson's moving Fine Horseman and Colm Sands' whimsical Almost Every Circumstance. The varied and imaginative accompaniments are provided by Dan Ar Braz/ guitars, Huw Warren/ keyboards, Andrew Cronshaw/ Chinese flutes/ whistles/ bombarde & concertina, Patsy Seddon & Mary MacMaster/ Scottish harps and others. The compact disc version adds a solo by each - June does the chilling Rosie Anderst and and Maddy does the gentle and beautiful love song Somewhere Along The Road. (FS)

MADDY PRIOR & THE CARNIVAL BAND Park 9 Carols & Capers ● CD $14.98
Maddy and this historically knowledgeable, yet madcap quintet toss together everything from Breughel era renaissance instruments to pipes to banjo to electric guitar to Maddy's soaring soprano in a sweet, light-hearted romp through five centuries of mostly Christmas music. I say mostly, because this really isn't just a Christmas album. It's a plain, good album, and one you may find yourself listening to closely and even singing along with. Both familiar and unfamiliar carols (Away In a Manger to Monsieur Charpentier's Christmas Stomp) receive interesting and widely varied arrangements. There are strangely appropriate moments of silliness like a capering version of Turkey in the Straw. Not all silly, certainly, but even the serious carols never get too serious. An altogether nice mood for holidays or any time of year. (DC)

MADDY PRIOR & THE CARNIVAL BAND Park 31 Hang Up Sorrow & Care ● CD $14.98
17 tracks, 57 mins., highly recommended This is an absolute delight! A concept album of a sort, the tracks are all traditional songs from the 17th and 18th century. They are loosely grouped to represent the musings of Old Simon the King as he holds forth at his local ale house on the absurdities of life, love, and the pleasures of drink. Maddy Prior is in excellent form and the clever mix of ancient and modern elements in the arrangements never fails to amuse and entertain. Things start off with a bang as the Carnival band switches in the blink of an eye from a stately Elizabethan ballad to a jug band rave up on The Prodigal's Resolution. Other songs contain elements of tango and Dixieland. Not all is tongue in cheek; several ballads of great beauty and feeling are also found here, including An thou were my Ain Thing and Now O Now I need must part. The collection is rounded out with several instrumental renditions of traditional dances. All in all, this is the most impressive example of traditional English folk music done in a modern vein that I've heard in many years. (DP)

PYEWACKETT Music & Words MWCD 4007 The Man In The Moon Drinks Claret ● CD $20.98
11 tracks, 39 mins., recommended. It's easy to see why this group was so popular and still packs 'em in for their annual reunions. This 1982 album sparkles with a playful sense of fun, delivered by a skillful quartet who like to surprise. Hey We to the Other World starts off very trad English acapella but quickly devolves into a burlesque reggae stew that somehow suits it perfectly. Other tracks retain trad politeness while interwoven with singular invention. Pyewackett specialized in very old material which they made current and very much alive. Check out one of the jazziest versions of Tam Lin ever recorded, followed immediately by an entirely loopy Merry-go-round Broke Down. Weird and wonderful. Andy Cronshaw ably handled the highly-textured production. (DC)


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