Stunning unaccompanied singing.
bethnal3 | Canada | 06/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album is vintage Watersons, and a sterling example of the English a capella vocal tradition, not overpolished but with a vigour and a freshness that wakes you up. Just listen, for example, to "King Arthur's Servants", with a young Norma Waterson singing a clear girlish lead, and the rest of the family coming in with a bracing heartiness on the chorus. I first heard this particular track in a live Clancy brothers version, which was somewhat ruined by some preceding Anglophobic remarks (please, if you're going to cover English material, at least have the courtesy not to insult the creators of it at the same time!) and I had no idea what an exciting song it could be. But that is the case with so many of the songs on this album --even if you've already heard "The Broom of Cowdenknowes", you will be amazed by the almost symphonic sound produced by the family (incredible that there were only four of them). It also contains a rarity, a calling-on song, the prelude to a miracle play, introducing and describing each character ("Ye Noble Spectators"). And they do a wonderful job with Ewan MacColl's "Thirty-Foot Trailer", and the delightfully boisterous "All For Me Grog." We also cannot forget Norma's exquisite rendition of "The North Country Maid" (otherwise known as "The Oak and the Ash". Don't write this album off because it's early Watersons. It is a gem for all that, and if you want to hear pure harmonies and authentic English folk singing you can't do much better than this."