The Young Tradition with Shirley & Dolly Collins – The Holly Bears The Crown

The Holly Bears the Crown
The Young Tradition with Shirley & Dolly Collins
Originally recorded 1969 but unreleased (see below)
Fledg’ling Records FLED 3006 (CD, UK, October 30, 1995)

 

Recorded in London in 1969 (but shelved because of the Young Tradition’s break-up);
Produced by John Gilbert
Mastered by Dennis Blackham at Porkys, London
Photography by Brian Shuel
Cover artwork by David Suff

Musicians

Peter Bellamy, vocals;
Shirley Collins, vocals;
Dolly Collins, portative organ;
Adam Skeaping, violone;
Rod Skeaping, bass viol;
Heather Wood, vocals;
Royston Wood, vocals;
Gary Watson, narrator [1, 8]

Tracks

Prologue from Hamlet (0.28)
The Boar’s Head Carol (Roud 22229) (1.38)
Is It Far to Bethlehem (2.12)
Lullay My Liking (2.10)
The Cherry Tree Carol (Roud 453; Child 54; G/D 2:327) (2.48)
Shepherds Arise (The Shepherd’s Hymn) (Roud 1207) (3.10)
I Sing of a Maiden That Is Makeless (1.56)

Interlude: The Great Frost (2.16)
Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day (Roud 21931) (2.08)
A Virgin Most Pure (Roud 1378) (4.19)
The Coventry Carol (Roud 19028) (1.55)
The Holly Bears the Crown (Roud 514) (2.49)
March the Morning Sun (2.24)
Bring Us in Good Ale (Roud 203; G/D 3:590) (2.33)

All tracks trad. except
Track 1 William Shakespeare;
Track 3 words Frances Chesterton, tune trad.;
Track 4 words trad., tune Gustav Holst;
Track 5 words trad., tune Shirley Collins;
Track 7 words trad., tune Dolly Collins;
Track 8 Virginia Woolf;
Track 13 Royston Wood

Arrangements by Peter Bellamy, Shirley and Dolly Collins, Royston Wood, Heather Wood;
All instrumental arrangements by Dolly Collins;
All titles published by Cacophony Music

Information in this text file was found on the wonderful website:
https://mainlynorfolk.info/peter.bellamy/records/thehollybearsthecrown.html

One single was released from this project at the time:

The Boar’s Head Carol / The Shepherd’s Hymn
The Young Tradition

Argo AFW 115 (single, UK, 1974)
The Young Tradition: The Boar’s Head Carol (Argo AFW 115)


Here’s one for getting out the mulled cider and spiced wine, although this will be the most sober of my holiday offerings. It is one of those genuinely “lost classics,” an album that went unreleased at the time except for one single on Argo.  It’s all very, very English.  The Collins sisters teamed up with vocal group The Young Tradition, whose name itself suggests that core folk revival principle of recovering, preserving, adapting, and recontextualizing ancient tunes.  Each “side” of the unreleased album was opened by brief recitations of passages from Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf, as if to underscore that traditional/modern dialectic.  A couple of the melodies were newly composed by Shirley and Dolly for traditional lyrics, and one comes from composer Gustav Holst, who played a part in the previous folk revival of the early 20th century, in the same cohort as Vaughan Williams.  Another deploys lyrics by Frances Chesterton (wife, manager, and religious anchor of G.K. Chesterton) to a traditional melody.  One original Royston Wood composition graces the album, sung by Shirley.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the UK during part of the Christmas season, and to make a broad generalization, man are they really into Christmas there.  Sure, it’s also saturated with American-style consumerism and filthy capitalism.  But being there as a Yank still impressed upon me that there’s a basic human kindness and warmth that is stronger and less transitory than all of that.  The kind of goodwill that individualist Americans reserve only for their family and friends (or church congregation) seems to spill forth from every city street and village corner to embrace you.  Yes, I know there are more people “sleeping rough” (that’s British for “homeless”) than there ought to be in any so-called civilized place, there are forces trying to gut the NHS, and the isles have their fair share of socioeconomic problems, racism, and moral contradictions.  But when Theresa bloody May has to publicly chastise the child-tyrant of the USA for retweeting fraudulent Islamophobic propaganda made by fascists, perhaps you can indulge me in a bit of fantastic romanticizing that at least some remnants of British society hold fast to a more humane, compassionate, less-batshit-crazy worldview than what currently prevails in the land of my birth.  Since I won’t be able to take in evensong at St. Paul’s Cathedral, at least I can put on this record, though certainly less grandiose than a choir or pipe organ, and keep myself in good ale.

Once again, if you’re feeling the holiday spirit and have anything left over from your gift fund, consider becoming a patron of the blog via Patreon, using the links at the footer of each post.  It would help us with some site ‘remodeling’ and with enough patrons I can actually run some of the fun features like opinion polls and requests.

 


password: vibes

The Three Suns – A Ding Dong Dandy Christmas! (1959)

The Three Suns – A Ding Dong Dandy Christmas!
Original release 1959, RCA Victor LSP-2054
2015 reissue, Real Gone Music: RGM-0395

 

01 Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (2:04)
02 Skater’s Waltz (2:56)
03 The Chipmunk Song (2:03)
04 White Christmas (3:06)
05 Ding Dong Dandy Christmas (2:54)
06 The Christmas Song (2:31)
07 Russian Sleigh Song (2:39)
08 Jingle Bells (2:41)
09 Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (2:20)
10 Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (2:00)
11 Jingle Bell Rock (2:12)
12 Sleigh Ride (2:57)
13 I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (2:21)
14 Winter Wonderland (2:44)

Guitar Al Nevins
Accordion Morty Nevins
Organ, Vocals Artie Dunn
Arrangements Charles Albertine
Other Performers Uncredited

Producer Al Nevins
Engineer Ernie Oelrich
Liner Notes Art Whitman; Joe Marchese


Tubas! Bells!  Rockin’ jazzed-up guitar solos! Accordions! Did I mention bells?  After I first heard this Three Suns Christmas album (one of several they made), I began picking up every Three Suns LP I came across in the charity shops in the hopes of finding one as fun and exciting as this one.  So far that quest has ended in failure, nothing comes close.  This toe-tapping, zany sleigh ride through a set of old chestnuts will bring a smile to even the most jaded humbug hater of Christmas music.  Sure, most of these tunes are so worn out that they should be classified as noise pollution during the month of December, but you’ve rarely heard them this animated.  This is what the future sounded like in 1959!  If you were trapped in a fallout shelter for a hundred years with only one holiday record, this would have been the one to choose.  Thanks to my friend Y. for supplying the secure audio extraction.  He also supplied this blurb from the Dusty Groove record store, which I will include below solely because it includes the word tintinabulation.

A hell of a great record from the Three Suns – upbeat, playful, and everything we love about an unusual Holiday set! In fact, the record may well be better than most of the group’s other RCA work – as their usual groove is inflected here with lots of hip percussion, which creates an extra flourish amidst melodic lines on accordion, guitar, tuba, and organ – all romping around in a mighty nice way! There’s lots of bells, especially – and they add this tintinabulation to the record that’s really wonderful – ringing out on titles that include “Skater’s Waltz”, “The Chipmunk Song”, “Ding Dong Dandy Christmas”, “Russian Sleigh Song”, “Jingle Bells”, “Sleigh Ride”, and “Let It Snow”.


So do yourself a favor, put on that smoking jacket and fix a drink from that oak sideboard with the built-in speakers holding your hi-fi equipment, and let your mind relax while your eyes wander across that patterned wallpaper in your den.  I’m not inclined toward any insightful socio-musical commentary during these busy holiday weeks, but I am inclined to post a few more light-hearted albums that are only good once a year, so stay tuned to this station.  Also if you are brimming with holiday generosity,  consider becoming a patron of the blog via Patreon – if we get enough patrons, we can get a Mega Pro account, because hosting direct links on this site is no longer a viable option going forward.  Also, more than 3 patrons (our current number) would allow me to actually run the fun activities like opinion polls and the occasional request fill that are set up as ‘member rewards’ currently.

Careful with that eggnog!


passw3rd: vibes

Claudja Barry – Sweet Dynamite (1977) (Salsoul SRZ-5512)

Claudja Barry
Sweet Dynamite
1977 Salsoul Records SZS 5512
US Pressing

A1 Love For The Sake Of Love 7:53
A2 Sweet Dynamite 7:22
B1 Dance, Dance, Dance 6:43
B2 Live A Little Bit 3:28
B3 Why Must A Girl Like Me 7:21

Phonographic Copyright (p) – Salsoul Record Corp.
Manufactured By – Caytronics
Distributed By – Caytronics
Mastered At – Frankford/Wayne Mastering Labs

Credits

Backing Vocals – Claudia Schwarz, Roberta Kelly, Stefan Zauner
Bass – Dave King, Gary Unwin
Drums – Keith Forsey
Keyboards – Thor Baldursson
Percussion – Jorg Evers, Jurgen S. Korduletsch
Saxophone – Pepe Solera

Arranged By – Jorg Evers
Mastered By – Jose Rodriguez
Mixed By – Tom Moulton
Photography By – Michael Doster
Producer – J. S. Korduletsch
Written-By – Evers, Korduletsch
Engineer – Jurgen Koppers, Peter Ludemann

 Notes
An original Lolilipop Recording.
Manufactured and Distributed by Caytronics Records.
A Cape Music Company.

1977 Salsoul Record Corporation

Deadwax inscriptions:
SZS 5512A-REV1 TM/JR
SZS 5512B-REV1X TM/JR

LINEAGE INFO
Salsoul SZS 5512 vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; AUdioquest King Cobra cables; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair on very light settings, manually auditioning the output, and often turned off for large sections of this record; further clicks removed with Adobe Audition 3.0; dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.


Forgot protest music, forget Eminem – disco is the best weapon against your classic-rock / “new” country-listening Trump supporter neighbor and his or her dreams of a white ethnostate. It has all the right elements to churn their schizo-paranoid, alternate fact-fueled persecution complex – this music was a conspiracy of people of color, The Gays, women, and Europeans to threaten their hegemony and prevent bands named after notorious concentrations of normative whiteness, like Boston or Kansas, from reaching the top of the Billboard charts.  Absent an explicit political message, it espoused an ideology of equal parts tolerance and hedonism, of the pure physicality of getting everybody off their sofas and away from watching the squares on Hollywood Squares, commanding them to get up and mix all their sweaty limbs together in one gelatinous mass of grooving, gyrating joy over the simple gratitude of still being alive after Vietnam, surviving Nixon, and paying obeisance to unrelenting 4/4 beats and the deliverance of music.  Sure, the Khmer Rouge was committing genocide with the complicity of agents of “Western Democracy” and the CIA was preparing itself to try and crush the Sandinistas, but for a few hours every night, in cities around the world, DJs would spin records like this almost defiantly funky debut album by Claudja Barry – a Jamaican-born, Canadian raised singer, professionalized in London before winding up in West Germany, where she married this album’s producer and principal songwriter, Jurgen Korduletsch.

And what a hard-hitting debut record this is, thanks in no small part to the aggressive mixing of Tom Moulton, who worked closely with mastering engineer Jose Rodriguez. Their work is a great example of judicious and creative use of compressors and limiters to create records where everything seemed crisp, loud, and punchy but without squashing everything to bits, still leaving room for the dynamics to breath.  The way the mix on a song like “Love For The Sake Of Love” is built up layer by layer is very satisfying.  Not especially innovative, but satisfying – it could be a didactic example in an audio production class of how to make  music that is as pleasurable  for listening as it is dancing. It is notable that the US pressing has a different track sequence from the European release and is missing several songs found there, such as the questionable cover of Steely Dan’s “Do It Again.”  I don’t know what the story is but I can imagine Donald Fagen litigating against Salsoul or something. Surely a disco-funk version of his song drove him nuts, and they even messed with his lyrics!  It was released as a single, so without knowing the chronology I suppose it could have been added to those Euro releases later (I don’t think it was mixed by Moulton, either), but given the 31-minute running time of the US version, it sure feels like it was cut.  In my personal opinion, you’re not missing much.  The first four tracks on this album are all monsters, with the solid and steady drum work of Keith Forsey (who worked with Giorgio Moroder among others) laying down the bedrock.  The instrumental track “Live A Little Bit” seems to be intentionally reminding us of Claudia’s island roots.  It’s pleasant but doesn’t really go anywhere.  “Why Must A Girl Like Me” is the weakest cut here, eschewing the hard edge of the earlier tracks for a more pop sound.  Mileage may vary and I would forgive you for stopping the record and putting on something else at this point.  And hey, if anybody knows who played guitars on this record, leave a comment – the rhythm guitar work here is excellent, as are small tasty but tiny lead lines on the album’s opener.  The band (as credited on reissues, no personnel is listed on the LP jacket) is comprised of a hodgepodge of US and Berlin-scene musicians as well as Italian sax player Pepe Solera.

The CD format in general has not been kind to Tom Moulton – most of the Salsoul catalog has recently been manhandled by reissue labels who brickwall the shit out of everything they release.  This album may have been spared the so-called ‘loudness wars’, at it seems it was reissued once in 1993 (before everything began to be mastered for iPods or car stereos) and then only in Japan in 2014, where people still care about sound quality.


password: vibes

Marcos Valle – Vontade de Rever Você (1981) (2017 RSD – ViNiLiSSSiMO)

Marcos Valle
Vontade De Rever Você
Reissue April 22, 2017 ViNiLiSSSiMO MR-SSS 546
Special release for Record Store Day
Original Release 1981 Som Livre 403.6224

 

01 – A Paraíba Não É Chicago     4:35
(Laudir de Oliveira, Ware, Marcos Valle, Paulo Sérgio Valle, Cetera)

02 – Bicho No Cio     4:35

(Leon Ware, Marcos Valle, Paulo Sérgio Valle)

03 Velhos Surfistas Querendo Voar     4:35

(Leon Ware, Marcos Valle, Paulo Sérgio Valle)

04 – Campina Grande    3:22

(Marcos Valle)

05 – Sei Lá     4:35

(Laudir de Oliveira, Ware, Marcos Valle, Paulo Sérgio Valle, Cetera)

06 – Pecados De Amor     3:40

(Marcos Valle, Paulo Sérgio Valle)

07 – Garimpando     3:55

(Marcos Valle, Paulo Sérgio Valle)

08 – Nao Pode Ser Qualquer Mulher     4:12

(Leon Ware, Marcos Valle, Paulo Sérgio Valle)

 

Accordion – Sivuca
Bass – Jamil Joanes, Luizão, Peter Cetera
Drums – Danny Seraphine, Robertinho Silva
Electric Piano [Rhodes] – José Roberto Bertrami
Guitar – Chris Pinnick, Robertinho De Recife, Robson Jorge, Sergio Dias
Keyboards, Piano – Marcos Valle
Percussion – Airto Moreira, Bezerra da Silva, Chacal, Laudir de Oliveira
Producer – Marcos Valle, Paulo Sérgio Valle, Ribeiro Francisco
Saxophone – Oberdan, Walter Parazaider
Trombone – James Pankow, Serginho

 

LINEAGE INFO

RSD 2017 ViNiLiSSSiMO MR-SSS 546 vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; AUdioquest King Cobra cables; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair on very light settings, manually auditioning the output, and often turned off for large sections of this record; further clicks removed with Adobe Audition 3.0; dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

This is a very solid record from Marcos Valle in what would these days be called his ‘boogie’ phase.  I suppose it can’t also be called ‘yacht rock’ because, a) there’s not much rock here, and b) on the album jacket, Marcos definitely looks more like the guy selling suntan lotion (and maybe a little something extra for your voyage if you seem hip) down at the pier, moreso than he resembles the owner of a yacht.  This album also answers the unasked question, “What would it sound like if you put Chicago’s Peter Cetera and Brazilian accordion wizard Sivuca on the same song?”  The result was the moderately big hit single “A Paraíba não é Chicago” that opens up this upbeat, breezy album.  Cetera contributes bass guitar to unspecified tracks, as do the great Jamil Joanes (who played with Banda Black Rio, Gal Costa, Tim Maia, and many others) and Luizão Maia (Antônio Adolfo e A Brazuca, Fórmula 7, Elis Regina, João Bosco and many more). Sergio Dias of Os Mutantes plays a guitar or two somewhere here.  The eclectic mix of magic helper elves continues with sessions credits from three other members of Chicago (Danny Seraphine, splitting drums duties with the ubiquitous Robertinho Silva, and horn players James Pankow and Walter Parazaider), and co-writing credit from both Cetera and soul singer Leon Ware on four songs.  Valle worked with both those guys during his second stretch living in the USA, and his melodic flare is in heavy abundance on this Ware track  Rockin’ You Eternally, also from 1981. Robson Jorge and Robertinho do Recife (on guitars) and Airto (on percussion, although you wouldn’t really know it’s him) are in the mix as well.

Marcos Valle sounds natural and in his element here, still youthful and not at all like he was simply keeping up with the times while approaching the milestone of twenty years as a recording artist. Although I will probably always prefer his string of home-run classic albums from the late 60s and early 70s, I’m glad his work from this period is getting more attention lately, as evidenced by this special 2017 Record Store Day repressing by Spanish label ViNiLiSSSiMO.*  Marcos Valle has never needed to be ‘recuperated’ as hip, because he’s like some kind of Brazilian Brian Wilson, without the mental instability and a much longer span of productivity, a guy whose work has stayed afloat above the tides of fashion as effortlessly as the most expert surfer.  There are no bad songs here, although the shimmery slick production may occasionally get in their way, depending on the listener.  The instrumental Campina Grande continues the album’s peculiar fascination with the state of Paraíba (they have great beaches there…), using a Northeastern rhythmic foundation for a piano melody that is evocative of Valle’s bossa nova years.  If he had recorded an English-version of the radio-friendly, mid-tempo “Sei lá”, he might have been a household name in the northern latitudes.  But I doubt Rio’s golden boy loses much sleep over that notion.

*Unfortunately, in terms of mastering and sound quality, I’m fairly confident they just took a CD and slapped it on wax, which ignores that the two media have different properties.  The good news is I am guessing they used the Japanese reissue on Bomba Records, since it doesn’t pin the meters to 0 db in a solid slab of ‘brickwall’ like I suspect the Som Livre 2006 CD, based on all their other CD reissues.  Anyway, I guess it’s nice to have around for analog playback, at a reasonable price.

password: vibes

Wolfmoon – Wolfmoon (1973) (featuring Swamp Dogg)

 

Wolfmoon
Wolfmoon
1973 Fungus FB 25149

01 Cloak Of Many Colors
02 If He Walked Today
03 My Kinda People
04 If I Had A Hammer
05 People Get Ready
06 Proud Mary
07   God Bless
08 What Is Heaven For
09 Treasures That I Found
10 The Artist

Artwork By – George Reeder Jr
Coordinator – Yvonne Williams

Deadwax matrix runout info:
SIDE A: F-25149-A-RE-1-11-1
SIDE B: F-25149-B-1-11-1 p@ D PR T-2Producer – Jerry Williams Jr.

Lineage:
Fungus 25149 LP; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply; Creek Audio OBH-15; Audioquest King Cobra cables; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair on light settings, manually auditioning the output; Stereo->Mono fold down in Click Repair; further clicks removed with Adobe Audition 3.0; dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.


A look at this cosmic album cover art leads you to speculate excitedly about the contents. Who is Wolfmoon? Is he some kind of psychedelic superhero who goes bowling with planets amidst the stars? What does his music sound like? You put the record on your turntable, half expecting squalls of Echoplex feedback guitar to fill the room and fulfill your urge for uncovering some lost psychedelic funk treasure, but what meets your ears is… slightly off-kilter southern soul. I think I use the phrase “slightly off-kilter” a lot whenever I try to describe the work of Swamp Dogg to the unfamiliar. Swamp Dogg, the musical persona of one Jerry Williams, Jr, produced this album, wrote all the songs that aren’t cover tunes, and possibly played half the instruments. And his approach, his musical gestalt if you will, has always struck me as what it would sound like if an arranger for Muscle Shoals Studio ate a quarter ounce of psilocybin mushrooms at 8 a.m. right after getting to work, and continued on as if it were just a normal day at the office. The song structures are more or less traditional, the elements all familiar to the universe of southern soul music of the 60’s and early 70’s, but there is always just enough strangeness – odd lyrics and titles, occasional embellishments of inter-dimensional lysergic audio production creeping through an arrangement like kudzu overtaking a barbecue stand – to alert the listener that something is a little bit “off.”

Williams/Dogg’s production work for other artists usually plays it a little more straight than on his own records, and Wolfmoon is no exception. So I’ll confess to some mild disappointment when I discovered that the sounds emanating from the grooves did not sound like a collection of early Funkadelic outtakes thrown into a blender with some of Otis Redding’s ashes and some paint chips from the discarded scepter of King Floyd. This is high quality soul music, but with the exception of the expansive take on “People Get Ready”, there are no ‘freakouts’ here. Since I have no idea what Wolfmoon actually looks like beyond the comic-book style cover art, I found it helps to visualize an animated film with him “in character” singing all these songs.

Almost half the songs are infused with an idiosyncratic gospel-soul religiosity, and a look at the song titles will probably help you guess which ones.  “If He Walked Today” speculates on the second coming of Christ in a way that uncomfortably reminds me of a truly awful assignment I turned in for a drama-writing class when I was a teenager in which I attempted to cast Jesus as a hippie in Greenwich Village or the Haight (can’t remember which) in 1970.  I mean that was pretty much the whole “plot,” I don’t think there was much else to it.  Wolfmoon’s track is better than my dramatic script, which for some reason I still haven’t burned in a bonfire but refuse to actually reread.  Another track, “God Bless,” is a cute observation of little kids offering nightly prayers to Deputy Dog, Elmer Fudd, and Tweety Bird.  Talking about the “off kilter”, funky gospel-soul tunes among the original compositions is a good segue-way to the cover songs.  While “If I Had A Hammer” wins my praise for being the funkiest version of that song you’re likely to come across, it’s the eight minutes of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” that is truly the centerpiece of this whole album.  I mean, all the other songs clock in at under 3 minutes, meaning that “People Get Ready” here is nearly 4x as long as any other track, so I have to believe we are meant to regard this as THE highlighted show-stopper.  With a long intro and outro vamp on one chord sandwiching Mayfield’s spiritual civil-rights anthem in the middle, it largely works.  But it is one of those things that is probably more impressive the first couple of times you hear it.  It’s a restrained kind of psychedelic freakout leading into the main tune, and I mostly applaud Swamp Dogg’s decision to remain understated rather than taking the easy approach to such an idea and just adding squalls of feedback and tape delay.  But then other times I wish there were in fact a swelling tsunami of feedback and tape delay, leading up to a crescendo that cuts off suddenly, yielding to the stately D-major / B-minor / G major progression of this immortal, uplifting tune.  Instead, the opening vamp just kind of chugs along for a few minutes and then just kind of collapses on itself.  They give the song a worthy treatment, and I’m 99% sure that it’s Jerry Williams himself doing the spoken rap of the lyrics in the middle of the track rather than Wolfmoon.  If I were grading it, I’d give it an A but not an A+.   An A+ for this kind of idea would be reserved, for example, for Baby Huey’s take on Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” which is a truly staggering  achievement of raw psychedelic soul.  Given that Baby Huey’s one and only album was produced by Mayfield, and how that track kind of stands out as a centerpiece there, I can’t help but wonder if Swamp Dogg / Jerry Williams Jr. was actually inspired to arrange “People Get Ready” this way by hearing that album, that it planted the idea of “I want to do something kind of like that!”  If so, good for him – but he doesn’t really get close to that kind of brilliance.  But really, saying that any soul/funk artist falls short of Curtis Mayfield is less of a criticism than a compliment, like saying any pop/rock artist is not quite as brilliant as Lennon/McCartney.  I’m excited to see Swamp Dogg getting more recognition in the last few years, manifesting in unexpected ways – for example, The Isley Brothers and Carlos Santana just covered his song “Total Destruction To Your Mind” on their recent collaboration, and Santana has incorporated into his live set!

As I was putting the finishing touches on my vinyl transfer of my Fungus Records original copy, I discovered that this had actually been reissued a few years ago in a very limited edition.  It was done by ‘Alive Records’ on a series of Swamp Dogg-related reissues, which I know he was personally involved with and fully endorsed.  In fact he wrote personalized liner notes for this and other releases in the series, and I’d love to see them someday – perhaps they would help shed some light on the enigma of Wolfmoon.  If you like this stuff, go and get yourself one and pick up the other Alive Records reissues while you’re at it — I have only one at the moment but it sounds pretty great.  The original Fungus Records version of this was distributed by BASF Records, the famous tape company who briefly had their own label in the 70’s. And in spite of having hardly a scratch on it, my copy is a bit noisy, which indicates cost-cutting somewhere in the laquer-cutting or manufacturing process (although it maybe have been cut at a Preswell plant, based on the matrix info).  So rather than breaking the bank to get an O.G. copy, I’d encourage folks to check out the reissue.  Plus, maybe you send me a pic of those liner notes, I’d like to read ’em.


password: vibes

Shirley & Dolly Collins – The Harvest Years (2008) (Anthems In Eden / Love, Death & The Lady)

Shirley & Dolly Collins
The Harvest Years
2008 EMI (UK) 50999 2 28404 2 4

 

A brand new documentary, The Ballad of Shirley Collins, directed by Rob Curry and Tim Pliester – was just released to rave reviews in the UK.  Since I sadly don’t live there yet, I can’t see it and am not sure when I will have the chance.  Meanwhile I am getting my hands on Curry & Pliester’s other film about Morris dancers, “Way of the Morris”, which led rather naturally to their current project. But I’m excited that this Collins biopic exists, and just feel like posting something in connection with her to celebrate the fact that she is being celebrated.  Besides all of the above reasons, I need to post something autumnal on the blog. Searching for “autumnal funk / soul / jazz” in my digital meta-data brings up precious little.  In Brazil the season only exists in theory and no evocative music springs to mind there either at the moment.  I had once attempted a sub-blog called ‘Flabbergasted Folk’ but abandoned it because of the finite nature of time and space. However I have opened up the ‘genre niche’ nature of this blog a little and decided I can post about anything I want, and you all can either dig it or skip it.

This collection of the great duo of Shirley & Dolly Collins is one that I was ready to feature last year to help incentive people to listen to seek out Shirley’s new album Lodestar (released November 2016), but for some reason did not.  Perhaps because I think “Anthems In Eden” is not the best place to start for people unfamiliar with her sizeable body of work.  It is atypical, and very innovative when you realize what they’ve done. Both records featured in this two-disc set are worthy of separate write-ups, but there are a number of music journalists who have already had the pleasure and done a pretty good job at the time that Harvest reissued this almost a decade ago.  I’m taking an unusual step of keeping my mouth shut and letting them present the material in the space below after the break.   As a bonus, I have featured the two pages of text that Shirley contributed to a box set of Harvest artists called Harvest Festival.  This box consists of 5 CDs, with really inconsistent sound quality and bad mastering – the best thing about it is the 120 page book.  Also, Shirley was featured in the great series “Mastertapes” on the BBC in January where she revisited “Love, Death & The Lady” and talked about it at length.  You can listen to it here.  I’ll track down my own vinyl copy of that LP someday, as I did with Anthems In Eden, and on that note I have to point out that the CD collection omits the one contribution from Incredible String Band’s Robin Williamson to “Anthems” – God Dog.  I’m assuming it has something to do with publishing or label conflicts, since it could not have been left off “due to time constraints” (that old refrain from CD reissues of the 90’s) on a set that includes bonus material that wasn’t even on the original records.

All Hallow’s Eve / Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and since adjectives like ‘haunting,’ ‘melancholic’, ‘plaintive’, and ‘evocative’ get trotted out anytime a receptive person attempts to describe the stirring experience of listening to Collins’ recordings, I can also consider this a “seasonal” post.  I might have another surprise on the 31st if I can finish it by then.

DISC ONE

A Song-Story
1-1  A Beginning  2:03
1-2  A Meeting – Searching For Lambs  2:43
1-3  A Courtship – The Wedding Song  4:04
1-4  A Denying – The Blacksmith  3:57
1-5  A Forsaking – Our Captain Cried  2:51
1-6  A Dream – Lowlands  2:35
1-7  A Leave-taking – Pleasant And Delightful  5:14
1-8  An Awakening – Whitsun Dance  2:52
1-9  New Beginning – The Staines Morris  1:47
1-10  Rambleaway  4:23
1-11  Ca’ The Yowes  3:27
1-12  God Dog  3:25
1-13  Bonny Cuckoo  1:55
1-14  Nellie The Milkmaid  2:42
1-15  Gathering Rushes In The Month Of May  3:30
1-16  The Gower Wassail  2:52
1-17  The Sailor From Dover  3:20
1-18  Young John  6:24
1-19  Short Jacket And White Trousers  2:59
1-20  The Bold Fisherman  4:39

——————————

DISC TWO

2-1  Death And The Lady  4:10
2-2  Glenlogie  3:47
2-3  The Oxford Girl  1:59
2-4  Are You Looking To Leave Me  2:53
2-5  The Outlandish Knight  5:05
2-6  Go From My Window  2:36
2-7  Young Girl Cut Down In Her Prime  3:42
2-8  Geordie  4:58
2-9  Salisbury Plain  2:41
2-10  Fair Maid Of Islington  2:16
2-11  Six Dukes  2:28
2-12  Polly On The Shore  3:11
2-13  Plains Of Waterloo  8:03
2-14  Fare Thee Well My Dearest Dear  3:27
2-15  C’est La Fin / Pour Mon Cuer  2:16
2-16  Bonny Kate  3:25
2-17  Adieu To All Judges And Juries  3:10
2-18  Edi Beo Thu Hevene Quene  3:42
2-19  Black Joker / Black, White, Yellow And Green  3:23
2-20  The Gallant Hussar  3:17
2-21  Hopping Down In Kent 2:47

from The Guardian
review by Robin Denselow

Thursday 31 July 2008 19.05 EDT
Jazz review: Shirley and Dolly Collins, The Harvest Years
5 / 5 stars

 

Shirley Collins was a 1960s folk revolutionary. After pioneering a folk-jazz-global fusion style with Davy Graham, she experimented in matching folk songs with early music instruments, with help from her sister Dolly, who played the portable flute organ and was an inventive arranger. Championed by John Peel, they were signed to EMI’s then-fashionable “underground” label Harvest to record some of the finest albums of the 60s and 70s folk revival. They are all here on this double set, which starts with the remarkable Anthems in Eden suite from 1969, in which Shirley’s cool, no-nonsense vocal style was matched against cornett, sackbut, harpsichord, recorder and a male chorus to revive songs such as The Blacksmith or Searching for Lambs, now folk standards. Then there’s the bleaker Love, Death and the Lady from 1970, more songs from Amaranth in 1976, and a rousing reminder of her work with the Albion Dance Band on Hopping Down in Kent. Shirley and Dolly helped transform the English folk scene, and their songs remain powerful and fresh.

 


 

Shirley & Dolly Collins The Harvest Years

Uncut August 6, 2008

Read more athttp://www.uncut.co.uk/reviews/album/shirley-dolly-collins-the-harvest-years#vQQCHhIwYxVggYGj.99

It is 1969. The summer of loves lease has expired, but British rock is ripening into its rich and succulent autumn. Fairport Convention are hoeing into the folk tradition on Liege And Lief; Nick Drake is completing Five Leaves Left. Enter Harvest Records, set up by EMI to reap the fruits of this bumper crop, a variegated basket that includes Pink Floyd, Third Ear Band, Kevin Ayers, Deep Purple, Forest, Michael Chapman and the folk singing sisters from Sussex, Shirley and Dolly Collins.

 

Still only 33, by 1969 Shirley Collins had accompanied Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger from Cecil Sharp House to Young Socialist conventions in Moscow; spent a years epic field recording trip in the USA as folklorist Alan Lomaxs romantic and secretarial partner; and cut Folk Roots, New Routes with the high priest of the Soho folk guitar cult, Davey Graham.

 

In 1968 she teamed up with elder sister Dolly to record The Power Of The True Love Knot, a zeitgeist-friendly folksong concoction produced by Joe Boyd and featuring The Incredible String Band. Dolly studied composition under modernist Alan Bush; by the late 60s she was living in a double decker bus in a field near Hastings, mastering the art of the flute organ, a portable keyboard dating from the 17th century. Mindful of a folk scene that had swelled from 30 nationwide clubs to over 400 in a mere five years, Harvest commissioned the sisters to record Anthems In Eden, a suite of folk tunes already premiered on John Peels Radio 1 show.

 

While their hippy contemporaries imagined a hemp-smoke paradise in the Hundred Acre Wood, wrapped up in Tolkien, Celtic lore and Lewis Carroll, Shirley Collins was channelling Englands ancestral spirits in song. Anthems In Eden and Love, Death And The Lady (1970), the twin pillars of this double CD set, are built up via a curatorial selection from the motherlode of English traditional song. Side one of Anthems retitles songs like Searching For Lambs, The Blacksmith and Our Captain Cried as A Meeting, A Denying and A Forsaking to weave a patchwork Song-Story in which the agricultural calendar of pre-war working class life is interrupted by the Great War and converted into an unnatural cycle of birth, parting and loss. The underlying message: the Fall from Eden was an empowerment, from the innocence of a deferent underclass that would blithely allow itself to be concripted to fight its masters wars, to the knowledge of a classless modern society. We wont get fooled again.

 

The records peculiar antique grain is supplied by the young firebrand who did so much to kickstart the Early Music movement, David Munrow. In a stroke of genius, Collins and husband/producer Austin John Marshall invited Munrows Early Music Consort of London to the sessions, featuring future stars of the authentic instruments movement such as Christopher Hogwood, Adam and Roderick Skeaping and Oliver Brookes, who arrived laden with crumhorns, sackbuts, rebecs, viols and harpsichord. They repeated the trick on 1970s exceptional Love, Death And The Lady. It may begin with the time-honoured folk lines As I walked out one morn in May, but Collins hardly sounds full of the joys of spring.

 

In fact, though Marshall was again producer, their marriage was on the rocks and the albums maudlin mood is clouded with doomed love, betrayal and suicide. The arrangements Dollys spiralling piano chords on Are You Going To Leave Me, Peter Woods mewling accordion on the devastating Go From My Window, or the military tattoos on Salisbury Plain courtesy of Pentangle drummer Terry Cox are like nothing previously heard in British folk, but suspend the songs in a strangely ageless sonic timezone somewhere between Elizabethan consort music and Rubber Soul.

 

Anthems In Eden played a decisive role in Shirley Collinss future. Fairport Convention founder Ashley Hutchings heard the album at the end of 1969, right after quitting the band after the release of Liege And Lief. It reduced him to a fit of body-wracking sobs, and within less than a year, he had sought out and married its creator, sweeping away most of the dead leaves lingering after Love, Death And The Lady. No Roses, recorded in 1971 by the couples newly formed Albion Country Band, brilliantly grafted Fairport-style electric pastoralia onto Collinss murderous balladry. That record was not part of the Harvest story, but this set does include Amaranth, the extra six tracks the group laid down for the 1976 edition of Anthems In Eden, plus another couple of merry tunes unreleased from the same period. Her marriage did not survive long after this high summer, and she only made one further album before effacing herself from public performance. But Harvests vintage crop of progressive folk survives as the pinnacle of her achievements.

 

ROB YOUNG

 

UNCUT Q&A: Shirley Collins
Uncut: How do you think your music chimed with Harvests hippy audience?
Shirley Collins: Dolly (Who died in 1995) and I were so far removed from popular music thats its quite miraculous that it all happened. I was never a hippy couldnt stand all that vague twee floatiness or the smell of patchouli! My England was Daniel Defoe, Robert Herrick, Hogarth, John Clare, Blake, with a touch of Henry Fielding for larks! My songs, coming from a long and genuine tradition, carried with them a truthful, clear vision of the past, of real lives, and I felt that, because of my background, I was a conduit between then and now.

 

What was your working relationship like with your husband as producer?

Austin John Marshall was a clever, inventive, maddening man. Yes, our marriage was breaking down at the time we were recording Love, Death And The Lady. But John had a clear vision for both albums, and the drive to see it through. And Im glad he persuaded me to add Terry Coxs percussion to The Plains Of Waterloo it still gives me goosebumps!

What did the idea of Eden mean to you in 1969?

Being a child throughout World War Two, surviving it, feeling optimistic, loving the English countryside and feeling proud and glad to be English I suppose England was my Eden. And yet I dont feel I saw it through rose-tinted spectacles. Growing up in a working class family made me aware of the hardships that people endured and overcame. I felt a great connection to those rural labouring classes whod sung the songs before me. I was fascinated by the past, so I was always aware of the dark heart of English history.

INTERVIEW: ROB YOUNG

Read more at http://www.uncut.co.uk/reviews/album/shirley-dolly-collins-the-harvest-years#vQQCHhIwYxVggYGj.99

 


password: vibes