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NEWSLETTER #143
Folk Music - American, British Isles, etc.
Shirley Collins ->
Waterson: Carthy
 

 

 

NEW COMPACT DISCS

 
ENGLAND SHIRLEY COLLINS Fledgling 3057 Snapshots $16.98
22 tracks, 59 tracks, essential
Lovely collection of 22 rarities from the 60s and 70s by the wonderful Shirley Collins, most in the company of sister Dolly. Though now retired from performing, Shirley Collins was one of England's finest interpreters of English traditional song. Though not a technically accomplished singer, her breathy vulnerable style brought a convincing sincerity to everything she performed. She frequently performed and recorded with her sister Dolly whose portative organ playing provided a beautiful and haunting backdrop to Shirley's vocals. The recordings are drawn from live performances, home recordings and demos - 12 previously unissued and most of the rest from out of print albums. It includes a number of superb songs Shirley had not recorded elsewhere like The Captain With The Whiskers/ Lovin Hannah/ Greenwood Laddie/ While Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping and others, while those she had recorded elsewhere are frequently featured in different arrangements like the moving Poor Murdered Woman which she had originally recorded electric with The Albion band but is featured here in concert with Dolly and the audience providing occasional discreet vocal accompaniments - a stunning performance and one of the highlights here. It also includes one of my favorite songs Banks Of Sweet Primroses - a lovely song under any circumstances but the combination of Shirley's vocals and Dolly organ playing are mezmerizing and never fails to send a shiver down my spine. Shirley has recorded this several times but it's always a joy to listen to. This set also includes two rare solo instrumental piece from Dolly - the lovely 16-century tune All Flowers In Broome on organ and The Merry Milkmaids on piano. Sound quality is superb and booklet has notes by Shirley on the songs which are imbued with the same sensitivity and charm she brought to her singing. Sheer delight. (FS)

 
AMERICAN FOLK WOODY GUTHRIE Proper BOX 115 Some Folk $24.98
4 CDs, 99 tracks, 278 mins, highly recommended
"Some Folk" is an exhaustive, yet still not complete set from the immortal Woody Guthrie. This is broken down into four segments, with all recordings in chronological order: "Worried Man Blues" is the complete Alan Lomax, Department of the Interior recordings from 3 dates in March of 1940. "The Great Dust Storm" covers all of the April and May 1940 RCA recordings and then dips into the Portland, Oregon sessions from may of 1941, with Oregon Trail, the Columbia river songs and the beginning of those Dam songs. Grand Coolie Dam finishes up those Dam recordings, captures 4 Almanac Singers tracks from July of 1941, then skips ahead to the Moses Asch studio recordings from April of 1944. These tracks feature additional performers Cisco Houston, Pete Seeger, Sonny Terry and Bess Lomax Hawes. Ramblin Round. Finishes up the 1944 sessions with Asch and then the set concludes with 3 more Asch sessions in '45,'46 and '47 respectively. The main elements that are missing would be his Songs To Grow childrens recordings and some of the Almanac Singers material, which have certainly been released many times and are easily available; nonetheless, it would have been nice to get everything in one box. All in all, this is a fantastic set with a nice thick booklet crammed with great info and pictures and an attractive box with artwork invoking a classic David Stone Martin record cover. (JM)

 
ENGLAND THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND Rhino (UK) 274 086-2 Introducing $19.98
Introduction to this idiosyncratic group with their unique blend of folk, blues, ethnic music and jazz along elliptical lyrics. 16 tracks drawn from the first eight Elektra albums. Includes October Song/ Empty Pocket Blues/ First Girl I Loved/ Koeeaddi There/ Half Remarkable Question/ Iron Stone/ Big ted/ Black Jack davey, etc.

 
ENGLAND NIC JONES Topic TSCD 566 Game Set Match $16.98
15 tracks, 63 mins, highly recommended
Another wonderful collection of live recordings from this brilliant English singer and guitarist whose career was cut short by a near fatal car accident in 1982. Fortunately a number of live recordings exist of Nic performing and two previous albums of these recordings were made available through Nic and his wife's own label Mollie Music some years ago (Mollie Music 01 - In Search Of Nic Jones - $21.98, Mollie Music 02/3 - Unearthed (2 CD set) - $29.98) and this adds another 15 performances. About half the tracks feature songs that were on those two releases though versions here are very different as are the versions of songs that originally appeared on his studio releases. There are a couple of songs that are not available anywhere else most notably a stunning version of Bonny LIght Horseman which is one of my favorite songs and is given a beautiful performance with expressive vocals and Nic's distinctive and imaginative guitar work. A true delight! (FS)
NIC JONES: Banks Of Fordie/ Billy Don't You Weep For Me/ Bonny Light Horseman/ Clyde Water/ Demon Lover/ Dives And Lazarus/ Flanders Shore/ Hamburger Polka/ Isle Of France/ Jolly Bold Robber/ Lakes Of Shillin/ Master Kilby/ Ploughman Lads/ Rufford Park Poachers/ Seven Yellow Gypsies

 
AMERICAN FOLK THE KLEZMATICS JMG 18033 Wonder Wheel - Lyrics By Woody Guthrie $16.98
12 tracks, 51 min., highly recommended
Woody Guthrie wrote about 3000 lyrics but provided the music for only 10 percent. Billy Bragg and Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) have already explored some of the little-known songs in the Guthrie archive, administered by the folk singer's daughter Nora Guthrie. She recently invited the Klezmatics to select lyrics and write music for a dozen all but unknown Guthrie pieces. The result is this amazing album. Many of the most moving songs (Come When I Call You; Gonna Get Through This World, with guest lead vocal by Susan McKeown; Orange Blossom Ring; Holy Ground, written while Guthrie was in the hospital, are only gently klezmercized. The music, written by various members of the band, seem perfectly suited to the material. Wheel Of Life and a few others get a stronger klezmer treatment, which, while still worthwhile, works less well. Overall, this is among the more interesting albums released this year, and a required listening for Woody fans. (JC)

 
ENGLAND EWAN MACCOLL & A.L.LLOYD Empire Musikwerks 450 849-2 Blow Boys Blow - Songs Of The Sea $12.98
Reissue of Tradition LP issued around 1959 featuring two of Britain's finest interpreters of traditional songs on a collection of sea shanties and songs about the sea with accompaniments from the great Alf Edwards on concertina, Ralph Rinzler/ guitar, banjo & mandolin and Steve benbow/ guitar. Songs include Row Bullies Row/ Wild Goose Shanty/ Old Billy Riley/ South Australia/ Whup jamboree/ Whiskey Johnny/ jack tar/ Haul On the Bowlin and others. Includes booklet with extensive original notes on the songs by Lloyd who was not only a great singer but also a leading folk song scholar.

 
ENGLAND RALPH MCTELL Leola OLABOX 66 The Journey $78.98
Another beautiful box set compiled and researched by David Suff who also produced the wonderful box sets of Sandy Denny, The Watersons, June Tabor and Shirley Collins. McTell is one of England's most acclaimed singers and songwriters as well as an outstanding guitarist and this four CD set in a long box covers his career from early home demos made in 1965 through to new recordings made especially for this set. The set features 66 tracks including 30 previously unissued tracks drawn from session outtakes, live recordings and demos. Set comes with 44 page full color booklet with essays on Ralph's songwriting and guitar playing, a full discography as well as many rare and unpublished photos.

 
ENGLAND PENTANGLE Castle CMDDD 132 Sweet Child $19.98
Two CDs, 33 Tracks, 128 mins, essential
This captures the English Folk super group Pentangle at the height of their commercial and critical success. This wonderful double LP originally came out in 1968, this re-issue has all of the original tracks sounding as crisp and beautiful (dare I say magical?) as ever. On top of an already splendid feast, there are bonus cuts galore, 11 total between the 2 CDs, ranging from out-takes and alternative takes of original compositions to updated traditionals, including (in case you can't get enough of Danny Thompson's bass) a studio version of their cover of Charles Mingus' Haitian Fight Song, Wow! (JM)
PENTANGLE: A Woman Like You/ Bells/ Bruton Town/ Goodbye Port-pie Hat/ Haitian Fight Song/ Haitian Fight Song (studio Version)/ Hear My Call/ Hole In The Coal/ Hole In The Coal (alt. Version)/ I Loved A Lass/ I've Got A Feeling/ In Time/ In Time (alt. Version)/ In Your Mind/ John Donne Song/ Let No Man Steal Your Thyme/ Market Song/ Moon Dog/ No Exit/ No More My Lord/ So Early In The Spring/ Sovay/ Sweet Child/ The Time Has Come/ The Trees They Do Grow High/ The Trees They Do Grow High (alt. Version)/ Three Dances - Brentzel Gay, La Rotta, The Earle Of Salisbury/ Three Part Thing/ Travelling Song/ Turn Your Money Green/ Waltz/ Watch The Stars/ Way Behind The Sun

 
ENGLAND VARIOUS ARTISTS Castle CMETD 1273 Scarborough - The Best Of English Folk $25.98
Another three CD set of folk music largely drawn from Transatlantic plus some labels acquired by Castle. Most of it is from the 60s and 70s along with a few tracks from the 90s by various Ashley Hutchings groups. About one-third traditional and the rest singer-songwriter. Some of the latter seems pretty dated. INcludes tracks by Mr. Fox, Dave & Toniu Arthur, Donovan, Michael Chapman, Lala & Mike Waterson, Keith Christmas, Dave Swarbrick, Pentangle, John James, Mike Cooper, Cliff Aungier, dave Sless, Dransfield, Richard Digance, Ethchingham Steam Band, Incredible String Band, Steve Tilston, The Spinners, Storyteller, Andrew Cronshaw, Synanthesia and others. Includes 12 page illustrated booklet.

 
AMERICAN FOLK VARIOUS ARTISTS Shout Factory 10041 The Harry Smith Project - Anthology Of American Folk Music Revisited $59.98
2 CDs, 2 DVDs, 55 tracks, highly recommended
This is a gorgeous set that pays tribute to the astounding legacy of Harry Smith. After the success of the Harry Smith Anthology #4, tribute shows covering music from the sets by a wide berth of artists were organized in London, New York and Los Angeles between 1999-2001. The two CDs feature live performances from the shows by the likes of Geoff Muldaur, Lou Reed, Nick Cave, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Beck, Elvis Costello, David Johansen, Richard Thompson with Eliza Carthy, Garth and Maud Hudson, Wilco, Steve Earle and many more. The first DVD has 23 of the live performances most of which are on the CD, but a few choice ones are exclusive to the DVD like Ed Saunders reading One Hot Summer Night With Harry Smith and The Folksmen doing their perfectly inappropriate Old Joe's Place, something that I'm sure Harry Smith would have appreciated. DVD #2 is the documentary "Old Weird America: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music," which is easily my favorite part of the set. It is a fascinating profile of the man with people from the shows and people who knew Smith like Allen Ginsberg, David Johansen, Phillip Glass etc. and Greil Marcus, who's book about Bob Dylan's name is borrowed for the doc.. The documentary features a lot of great archival snippets from Harry Smith and people he recorded, Rosco Holcomb, Sonny Terry, Clarence Ashley, Son House and more. Collection comes in 12" x 12" box with a beautiful 38-page booklet of the same size. Although some of the newer performances on this might not appeal to all Roots customers, the essence of this music is the heart of what we do and there is plenty of magic on this to be found. (JM)

 
ENGLAND WATERSON : CARTHY Topic TSCD 562 Holy Heathens And The Old Green Man $16.98
Wonderful new album of seasonal songs from Britain's finest family of folk music with assistance of acapella group The Devil's Interval and brass arrangements on several tracks.

 

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