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.

 


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