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Folk Music Of The British Isles & Europe

England

Folk Music Of The British Isles & Europe

England

Ushna -> Young Tradition
 

 

 

 
USHNA Fellside 132 Twice Brewed ● CD $16.98
13 tracks, 52 mins, recommended. Excellent collection of mostly traditional songs and tunes from Northumbria along with a few originals by talented quartet of musicians including Jackie Barry/vocals & percussion, Sean Barry/ harp, keyboards & vocals, Sarah Fisher/ fiddle and Billy Stewart/vocals & guitar. The wonderful Kathryn Tickell guests on Northumbrian pipes on several tracks. Good singing and playing on such songs and tunes as Puffing Billy/ Felton Lonnen/ Joe The Quilter/ William Jobling/ Buy Broom Besoms/ Blaydon Flats/ Bonny At Morn/ Elsie Marley and others. (FS)
 

 
MIKE WATERSON Topic TSCD 516 Mike Waterson ● CD $15.98
14 track, essential. Welcome CD reissue of the 1977 Topic LP of the same name with two added tracks (Sorry the Day I Was Married, which he sings solo, and The Yorkshire Tup, with the rest of the Watersons on chorus)  from the Watersons' 1966 album A Yorkshire Garland. This material was stunning when it first came out and it's lost none of its punch since then. Mike and his sisters Lal and Norma formed the magic nucleus of a musical constellation that still burns brightly. These recordings are mostly Mike singing solo, his voice in its prime, inhabiting each song like a house made utterly unique by its occupier -- which is really saying something, since among them are some of the best-known in English-language tradition: The Cruel Ship's Carpenter/ Tamlyn (the 11 minute all-chiller-no-filler version), Seven Yellow Gypsies. Bert Lloyd's introduction to the 1977 album, reprinted in the CD liner notes, sums this up thus: "Just the bloke himself with that dark yellow voice (and what a handsome colour it turns out to be ...). With occasional added voices provided by some combination of Norma, Lal, Lal's daughter Maria, cousin John Harrison, Jim Eldon, and Rod Stradling. (NSN)
 

 
NORMA WATERSON Topic TSCD 520 Bright Shiny Morning ● CD $15.98
12 tracks, 49 mins, essential. At last - a solo album of all traditional songs from one of England's greatest singers - it took 40 years but was worth the wait! Few can match Norma when it comes to power, expressiveness and sheer musicality and she brings that wonderful voice to bear on such great songs as The Chaps Of Cockaigny/ One April Morning (one of my all time favorite songs)/ Sheep Crook & Black Dog/ Banks Of The Dee/ Bright Shiny Morning/ Barbary Allen (if you think you've heard this song too many times you'll change your mind when you hear Norma's version)/ Flower Of Sweet Strabane/ Go & Leave Me and others. She is given beautiful instrumental and vocal accompaniments from husband Martin Carthy/ vocal/ guitar/ banjo, daughter Eliza Carthy/ vocal/ violin/ guitar/ co-producer of album, brother Mike Waterson/ vocal, Mary McMaster/ harp, Ben Ivitsky/ vocals, violin/viola/guitar & co-producer, Chris Parkinson/ accordion and harmonica and others. And keeping it in the family the album was engineered by Norma's nephew Oliver Knight. A joy! (FS)
 

 
LAL WATERSON & OLIVER KNIGHT Topic TSCD 478 Once In A Blue Moon ● CD $15.98
13 tracks, 43 mins., essential. A stunning collaboration of Lal Waterson and her son, Oliver Knight: her songs, her singing, his guitar and production. To call these songs is an oversimplification. These are sung poems, they are alive, so the more attention you pay them and the more time you spend with them, the livelier they become; if you tease out the allusions they get more complex, and sometimes you realize that you're learning more about yourself than the poet. I find these performances strong, earthy, lit with birds and pain and love and the blues. What riches North Yorkshire has, in Lal, in her son Oliver, in the No Master's Voice Collective of which Lal is a member, in Lal's niece Eliza Carthy, who comes to mind in the opening song At First She Starts when Lal sings "Didn't you realize you were a bird, at dawn when you woke with air in your throat / So far doe-ray-me sing to me loudly, serenade me, mess with the melody." Yes, please! (NSN)
 

 
LAL WATERSON & OLIVER KNIGHT Topic TSCD 505 A Bed Of Roses ● CD $15.98
12 tracks, essential. When Lal Waterson left us on September 4, 1998, this album had "not progressed past the rough cut stage", wrote Karl Dallas, in the obituary published in The Independent. It was cancer that got her, she was 55, and, according to John Pilgrim's notice in the November 1998 Folk Roots, it had been diagnosed 10 days before she died. The news felt as hard and mean as that accounting when we first heard it and it doesn't feel any better now. But Lal's son Oliver gave their final recordings a golden shimmer when he finished this, the successor to their incomparable 1996 album "Once In a Blue Moon". My first listen ended in tears after the fourth track Columbine, a goodbye to the flowers of her summer garden that ends "we'll see you next year" ... I've made it through, now, all the way through the end of her son's melancholy instrumental Lullaby at the finish. Her voice stayed rich and her poetry pungent to the end, and, in her words, "who wants it all a bed of roses anyway?" (Me, Lal.) (NSN)
 

 
NORMA WATERSON, MARTIN & ELIZA CARTHY Topic TSCD 475 Waterson:Carthy ● CD $15.98
12 tracks, 54 mins, essential. It may be a bit early to pick the best folk album of the 90s but I'll be surprised if this stunning release isn't right up there near the top. Martin Carthy has been the leading performer of traditional music on the English folk scene for nearly 30 years, he and his wife Norma Waterson are half of Britain's finest acapella harmony group and their daughter Eliza Carthy is one of the finest up and coming musicians on the British folk scene. Together they make music that is simply magical - nearly all of it traditional - showing that traditional song is far from being moribund as some might have you believe. Four of the songs are sung by Norma who proves, if any proof was needed, that she is one of the best traditional singers in England. The version of When I First Came To Caledonia with exquisite guitar from Martin and fiddle by Eliza is simply spine chilling as is her performance of the Texas waltz Midnight On the Water with lyrics from Ron Kavana. Eliza takes the lead vocal on three songs and her singing and fiddle playing continue to develop from her excellent debut album with Nancy Kerr. Her performance of Robert Burns' powerful The Slaves Lament is truly affecting. Martin takes the leads on Ye Mariners All and John Hamilton. The three harmonize on the remarkable Sleep On Beloved a traditional funeral song from North Yorkshire which bears a strong resemblance to Bahamian Joseph Spence's I Bid You Goodnight. The instrumental work is outstanding throughout and Eliza's original tune Farewell To A Dark haired Friend shows her ability as a composer too. Family musical groups frequently have an empathy not heard in unrelated musicians and there can be few better examples than here. Simply magnificent in every respect. (FS)
 

 
WATERSON:CARTHY Topic TSCD 509 Broken Ground ● CD $15.98
11 tracks, essential The family business continues to kick ass. Oliver Knight (see above) engineered and produced this outing by Uncle Martin Carthy/guitar & vocals, Aunt Norma Waterson/triangle & vocals, their daughter/his Cousin Eliza Carthy/fiddle, viola, & vocals, and de facto cousin Saul Rose/melodeons & vocals; with support from Ben Ivitsky/low whistle & viola, and from The Phoenix New Orleans Parade Band. Norma and Eliza are in superb voice and their singing is like two ends of the same rainbow -- you'll see what I mean when you listen to Eliza's Raggle Taggle Gypsies and then Norma's The Bay of Biscay, which open the set. Martin's got a new stunner in The Lion's Den but the words get lost behind the accompaniments at times. With due apologies to James Brown, Martin's voice is the voice of the hardest working man in show business, by which I mean use has worn it some; but his wit, his passion, and his joy burn brighter than ever, and inform the whole project. (Besides, he's the one who turned me on to Jody Stecher.) And the tunes! The chunes are to die for! (NSN)
 

 
WATERSON:CARTHY Topic TSCD 488 Common Tongue ● CD $15.98

 

 
WATERSON:CARTHY Topic TSCD 536 Dark Light ● CD $16.98
11 tracks, 58 mins, essential. Another fabulous collection of traditional songs and tunes from this wonderful family group - Martin Carthy, his wife Norma Waterson and their daughter Eliza Carthy. They are among the finest singers in Britain and Martin and Eliza are superb instrumentalists. For their fourth album they are joined by the splendid Tim van Eyken on melodeon and vocals plus occasional guest instrumentalists. The songs are performed solo, as duets, trios and quartets and is drawn from the repertoire of some of the great traditional singers who inspired the members of the group including Seamus Ennis, Sam Larner, Almeda Riddle, Packie Manus Byrne and others. Songs include The Devil & The Farmer/ Death & The Lady/ The Lofty tall Ship/ The Old Churchyard/ Diego's Bold Shore and others. Just when you think it can't get any better the album ends with a true piece de resistance - a version of the traditional hymn Sheperds Arise inspired by the singing of the great and influential Copper Family. It opens with a spine chilling modal fiddle intro by Eliza and then the glorious vocal harmonies come in and ends with the fiddle being joined by Martin's guitar and Tim's melodeon - the result is stunning and inspired. Glorious. (FS)
 

 
THE WATERSONS Shanachie 79088 For Pence & Spicy Ale ● CD $14.98
21 tracks, 79 mins, essential. Originally consisting of siblings Mike, Lal and Norma Waterson with cousin John Harrison, family commitments caused the Watersons to disband in 1967 after producing several wonderful and highly acclaimed albums. They reformed in 1973 with Martin Carthy replacing Harrison. The Watersons produce some of the most compelling and moving unaccompanied harmony singing in the English tradition. Their 1975 album "For Pence And Spicey Ale" was issued to universal acclaim and became the Melody Maker album of the year. Not too surprising as it is the high point of their already distinguished career and remains one of the finest folk albums of the 70s. For the CD release, Topic have taken advantage of the longer playing time to augment the original album with tracks drawn from the solo albums from 1977 by Lal & Norma and by Mike and the songs fit in beautifully. This disc opens with the magnificent Country Life - as beautiful a paean to rural life as you are ever likely to hear and winds to a glorious close with the folk hymn The Good Old Way. Along the way we hear traditional ballads (Mikes 11 minute solo version of Tam Lyn is utterly spine chilling), seasonal and ceremonial songs (Swinton May Song/ Malpas Wassail), old music hall songs (Barney, an Irish song that became better known as My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean) and much more including a Mike Waterson original, the whimsical Three Day Millionaire. Whether singing solo, duets or as the whole group the performances are consistently fine. CD sound is superb and disc has brief introductory notes by Tony Engle and background of all the songs by the brilliant A.L. Lloyd. (FS)
 

 
THE WATERSONS Topic TSCD 136 Frost And Fire ● CD $15.98
The first compact disc by this outstanding group from Yorkshire features all of their first album "Frost & Fire" from 1965 along with 7 songs from their 1977 album "Sound Sound Your Instruments Of Joy". The former album features ritual and ceremonial songs from around the British Isles and the latter complements it with a selection of scared songs, vernacular carols, meeting house hymns and camp-meeting pieces. Originally consisting of siblings Mike, Lal and Norma Waterson with cousin John Harrison family commitments caused them to disband in 1967 but they reformed in 1973 with Martin Carthy replacing Harrison. The Watersons produce some of the most compelling and moving unaccompanied harmony singing in the English tradition. They often feature intertwining parallel harmonies that converge by the end of the song. Each member of the group is a brilliant solo singer as the few solo performances here attest to. Songs include Here We Come A Wasailing/ Jolly Old Hawk/ Seven Virgins/ Hal-An-Tow/ John Barleycorn/ Souling Song/ Herod And The Cock/ God Bless The Master/ Emmanuel/ Sound, Sound Your Instruments Of Joy/ Green Fields, etc. Unreservedly recommended. (FS)
 

 
THE WATERSONS Topic TSCD 472 Early Days ● CD $15.98
27 tracks, 78 mins, essential. The Watersons are truly a British national treasure. They produce some of the most compelling and moving unaccompanied harmony singing in the English tradition. Originally consisting of siblings Mike, Lal and Norma Waterson with cousin John Harrison, family commitments caused the Watersons to disband in 1967. They reformed in 1973 with Martin Carthy replacing Harrison. This magnificent collection features some of the groups' earliest recordings from 1965 and 1966. There are five songs from a collection of up and coming performers called "New Voices", all of their second album "The Watersons", 2/3 of their third album "Yorkshire Garland" and the previously unissued Rap Her To Bank from "The Watersons" sessions. Every track is fine but the group are at their very pinnacle on "The Watersons" recordings which include such gems as Dido Bendigo/ The North Country Maid/I Am A Rover/ The Holmfirth Anthem, Ewan MacColl's beautiful and powerful tale of gypsy life The Thirty Foot Trailer and one of my all time favorite Watersons performances - Brave Wolfe. The harmonies on this track are truly spine chilling. Excellent sound on this CD and detailed notes on each song from A.L. Lloyd. (FS)
 

 
THE WATERSONS Topic TSCD 500 Green Fields ● CD $15.98
Reissue of Topic 415 from 1981 with bonus solo tracks by Mike and solo and duet tracks from Lal and Norma. This album, their first in 3 years, is all songs set in the English countryside and is up to their accustomed high standard - excellent notes by A.L.Lloyd - Stormy Winds/ Fare Thee Well Cold Winter/ While Game Keepers Lie Sleeping/ We'll All Go A-Hunting Today/ Rosebuds in June/ I Went to Market, etc.
 

 
PETA WEBB & KEN HALL Fellside FECD 155 As Close As Can Be ● CD $16.98
Two fine English singers perform traditional songs of England, Ireland and America - duets and solo performances. Lovely acapella renditions of songs, often uncommon ones, like True Lover John/ I Wish I Was In Manchester/ Scarborough Fair Town/ Whiskey In Me Tay/ I Am Stretched On Your Grave/ Cotton Mill Colic/ The Rich Man's Daughter/ Slieve Gallon Braes/ Uncle Dan McCann and others.
 

 
WOOD-WILSON-CARTHY RUF 05 Wood-Wilson-Carthy ● CD $16.98
Terrific new album of mostly traditional songs and tunes by new acoustic group featuring the talents of Martin Carthy/ vocals & guitar, Chris Wood/ vocals, violin & guitar and Roger Wilson/ vocals, guitar, mandolin, violin & djembe. Includes Six Jovial Welshmen/ Turtle Dove/ Scarborough Fair/ Two Sisters/ Billy Boy/ Lord Bateman, etc.
 

 
THE WOODS BAND Edsel 687 The Woods Band ● CD $16.98
Reissue of 1971 album by folk-rock band formed by Gay & Terry Woods after leaving Steeleye Span. A mix of original and traditional songs and tunes.
 

 
MARTYN WYNDHAM-READ Fellside FECD 84 Mussels On A Tree ● CD $16.98
115 tracks, 67 min., recommended. Wyndham Read's powerful, resonant singing is known everywhere there are folk festivals. This new release presents mostly trad songs, mostly unaccompanied or with simple guitar backup, mostly Australian but with a few English and Scottish thrown in, and it all has a gentle, lulling feel about it. Wyndham Read favors the slow, thoughtful ballad and that mood carries through from start to finish. Included are fine, contemporary songs by Graeme Miles, Eric Bogle, and Vin Garbutt, who also guests on whistle. (DC) (FS)
 

 
THE YOUNG TRADITION + Fledg'ling 3006 The Holly Bears The Crown ● CD $16.98
14 tracks, 33 mins, essential At long last, the final Young Tradition record, a brilliant collaboration of the late lamented trio and Shirley and Dolly Collins, released 26 years after its 1969 recording. This is a collection of rare and splendid carols, most centuries old, the arrangements delicately done by Dolly Collins using medieval instruments and performed by her and Adam and Roderick Skeaping, and the lovely voice of Shirley Collins. It was a particular gift of the Young Tradition that they brought both vigor and genuine wit to their material, and these performances still gleam with their individual brilliances. Their tempestuous tenor, Peter Bellamy, had lost patience with medieval music by the time these recordings were made, but it is his cheeky spirit that still, like Pan, visits the music with his blessed naughtiness. Essential. (NSN)
 

  

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