... this small but very valuable catalogue - Vic Smith in fRoots
... a very significant contribution to folk-song scholarship - David Atkinson in Folk Music Journal
... some of the best collections available of traditional music - Steve Winnick in Dirty Linen
Re: the Stephen Baldwin CD - No doubt about it. A gem. Thanks to all concerned.
What a great CD! Congratulations on the culmination of an excellent project. And the booklet was an real treat too, really interesting and with loads of information. Superb.
I've just finished reading the online version of the notes for Philip Heath-Coleman's Stephen Baldwin collection and have been again reminded of the astonishing - actually intimidating - high standard of so much of MT's production. I know of no other place, online or in-print, where material of such detail, authority, and value is published in its entirety.
Once again my congratulations to the Editors for the superlative calibre of so much of MT's output (and I've ordered the disc!)
Dr Christopher Smith - Music History and Literature Director, Texas Tech University School of Music
This is the third time I've ordered from MT Records, and I appreciate your quick efficiency in shipping them to me. More importantly, though, is the quality of the recordings. I want to thank you wholeheartedly for keeping these vital recordings in print, and for the thoughtful and extensive notes that are provided with each recording. With the US dollar going to hell in a hurry, I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to afford to buy CDs from you, but I want several more of them in the worst way, and will place another order soon. You're a valuable resource, and I'm glad you're doing this vital work.
Michael Crane - San Francisco, USA
... it has been a real joy listening to both of the Oak CDs - thanks a million for putting this material out ... What a joyous noise ... I listened over and over to them ... I have a fair CD collection, but this one really stands out.
John Ledger - Aberdeen
The Oak CDs add a lot to the original LP without making the latter redundant, and the packaging (to use the American vernacular) even looks cool. I hope it proves to be a strong seller, since it certainly deserves to be.
Phil Adams - Albuquerque, USA
This is just to say that the CD order arrived safely yesterday. I have not heard Bob Hart before, but what a singer he is! I only had time to listen to about half an hour of CD 1 last night, but I was so impressed by the quality of the singing and the interpretation. I have only had time to look at the booklet to Here's Luck to a Man but the photographs are just superb.
Thanks again for all your hard work.
[Re: American Old Time Series] I was wondering how the CDs would compare to the cassettes. I immediately noticed the improvement in sound quality. Sure, some of the higher-end restoration products can eliminate a bit more surface noise than 'pro-sumer'-grade products, but I think you've done a more than adequate job with your clean-up.
David Lynch - North Carolina [Re: From Puck to Appleby] Absolutely bloody brilliant! Mary Delaney is awesome.
I've received today the CDs I had ordered, From Puck to Appleby and George Dunn. I do appreciate them; the beautiful songs and the booklets with the texts and some very good comments. Thank you very much!
Roberto Campo - Abruzzo, Italy
... have heard both Kevin and Ellen before at various festivals. Another gem of a CD if I'm not mistaken.
I can't help writing to tell you how much I'm enjoying Far in the Mountains. It's an absolutely beautiful production, including the choice of artists, the blend of tunes and songs, the recording quality, the notes, and whatever else I may have forgotten. I am eternally grateful for Mike Yates having had the inspiration to document these wonderful musicians and to MT for issuing these recordings.
John Schwab - USA
I was given all four volumes of your Far in the Mountains as a birthday present back in June. Still finding delights in them.
Rod - many thanks. The Far in the Mountains CDs are fantastic - you and Mike Yates have done a wonderful job.
Thanks for the new (Far in the Mountains) CDs - excellent stuff, and a colour cover too! Well done.
Got these (Far in the Mountains) on Tuesday. Sold 3 already ... I think the packaging works really well, much easier to deal with, less vulnerable and more attractive. I like it.
Dave Kuznetts - Topic Records
Just listened to Far in the Mountains. Magnificent! Congratulations!
Dick Greenhaus - Camsco Music, CT, USA
I've just had a quick look at your website with the (George Dunn - Chainmaker) booklet notes and, as ever, am totally bowled over by the brilliant presentation with all its informative content and scholarship. As a collector of mainly classical music I have to think that most classical record companies sell their audience very, very short in this respect! I shall really look forward to receiving the discs and being able to add them to the collection here.
David Horsfield - Librarian, Ruskin College, Oxford
Kevin and Ellen Mitchell ... what is by any standards a wonderful collection of songs ... I knew what to expect from Kevin ... and was not disappointed ... I knew nothing about Ellen ... Young Johnston and Clyde's Waters ... they are tremendous ... my sheer pleasure at the wealth of material contained in the CDs themselves and the wonderful notes ... This would have been my CD of 2001, had I received it in time.
These [Up in the North and Down in the South] CDs are brilliant. You'd think they were recorded last week! It's great to hear new material, and the previously unissued items were well worth waiting for.
Congratulations to you, MT and, of course, Mike Yates.
Thanks also for the splendid Daisy Chapman. Not just the singing but the superb notes ... this gold standard. Got quite emotional listening to her, especially the Dying Plooman. Bless you for bringing Daisy back.
Dr Ian Olson
I have enjoyed all your previous releases very much but this [Wiggy Smith & Family] is really something else. I never thought that I would hear Jim Reeves, Norman Wisdom and Barbara Allen within a few tracks of each other. Quite marvellous stuff and probably more typical of the Traveller repertoire than that on VotP. The Lord Bateman with all the traffic and bar noise has to be one of the truly great actuality recordings - and a very full text well sung, to boot.
I've just received the CDs (Bob Hart, Walter Pardon and Cyril Poacher). They are very, very good. I thank you for your work and hope you are going to make available more great songs like those on the CDs I've bought.
Roberto Campo - Abruzzo, Italy
Congratulations on what is now, with your group of CD issues, emerging as a valuable service to anyone interested in traditional singers and singing.
David Atkinson, in The Folk Music Journal
Some comments on The Hardy Sons of Dan:
... this neatly packaged 2-CD collection of 37 tracks provides an absorbing snapshot of the times, lifestyle and character of this corner of Northern Ireland ... full credit to the absorbing booklet.
Quite apart from the fascination of the songs and the quality of the singers, what makes this collection so specially precious is the context. Snatches of conversations in pubs, the sounds of the audience ... the sense of a true local community singing folk songs for their own sake, and the simple belief that they ought to be sung.
Colin Irwin, in fRoots
The singers - all 14 of them - do full justice to their songs and deliver them with dignity, passion and high expertise ... Detailed erudite notes support these inspiring and atmospheric recordings, which is contsitent with the high production and aesthetic standards of the MT label.
Geordie McIntire, in The Living Tradition
Some comments on the Oak records:
The tracks here are drawn from the Oak LP and from tapes of three live performances. Rod has done a good job in reprocessing the recordings and the sound quality is excellent. But, of course, the question to be asked is: Has the music stood the test of time? Definitely. Here you have four singers who are strong whether solo, in duos or in a group context. Also, they were a band that played exhilarating dance music.
Bob Taberner, in The Folk Mag
Some comments on Here's Luck to a Man:
Like everything that Mike Yates contributes to the knowledge of our traditions, this is important material, well presented and worthy of buying and listening to over and over again ... The recordings just shout humanity and cultural background at us, with glimpses of a way of life now lost, even to travellers themselves, and of entertainment not dependent on the easy flick of switch. This is especially important at a time when gypsy culture is just starting to be viewed culturally and legally as something worth preserving in its own right.
Gwilym Davies - in Folk Music Journal
[The singers] all have an absolute honesty of presentation and an adherence to a traditional style that had evolved over hundreds of years within the British Isles - one which is is now fast disappearing. A style which is free from artifice, and in tune with the slow symphony of the English countryside ... another valuable contribution to the storehouse of recorded English rural traditional song. I recommend it without hesitation.
Tom Walsh - in MT
Some comments on From Puck to Appleby:
The range of songs included here is simply staggering ... Presented in a DVD case with an accompanying 36-page booklet, replete with information about the Travellers and their songs, this is quite simply the most important and vital album of traditional song to emerge for some time.
Geoff Wallis, in fRoots
... Now, all of these recordings have been reissued, along with many previously unissued songs, on the double CD From Puck to Appleby. And what recordings! Rod Stradling has already suggested that these two CDs could be the best traditional albums to be issued this year, and, who knows, he could just be right ... All the singers are excellent and the songs are wonderfully complete versions of seldom collected pieces ... All in all, over two and a half hours of first-rate material.
Mike Yates, in MT
Some comments on the Catalogue Sampler:
New technology has made it possible to do a very good job of producing small run recordings that would otherwise be unfeasible ... to make available great traditional archive recordings with comprehensive notes ...
There's much talk about how the younger generation of players now investigating home-grown traditional music are not paying enough attention to older traditional sources, and in particular to singers and ballads. Well, here they're served it all on a plate ... full of great examples of the strength of traditional singing styles and the repertoire ... The real pleasure is in the flow, in soaking up the lesser knowns, the relaxed deliveries, the ambience of recordings made in the singers' natural surroundings ... And then reading the notes opens up more windows on it all. Highly recommended: go to www.mustrad.org.uk and prepare to be converted.
lan Anderson, in fRoots
Some comments on the Far in the Mountains 4-CD set:
Far in the Mountains may be the most accessible of all the MT records so far ... the recordings are clean, the performers masterful, and the scolarly standard of the notes is high ... this is a feast, worth repeated listening and careful study.
Steve Winick - in Dirty Linen
This is a real treat - a remarkable collection of field recordings of authentic Appalachian mountain music ... five hours of spellbinding music, with 56 tunes, 75 ballads and songs, and seven folk tales. Far in the Mountains is a wonderful collection which can be enjoyed on so many levels and deserves a wide audience. I, for one, will be drawn back to it many times.
Shirley Collins - in fRoots
I was happy to see the effective use of the DVD box format in which these CDs are packaged. Within each two volume set, there is room for a larger than normal 36 page CD booklet. The booklets contain many black and white and color photographs, as well as ample room for the notes. The covers of both the DVD and booklets feature attractive color photos and the backs contain an easy to understand track listing (this isn't always the case, especially with these larger sets).
At a time when traditional music source reissues are plentiful, this set stands out for its wide breadth, packaging, and informative notes.
Scott Prouty - in MT
... almost all of Mike Yates' collected recordings are now available in two double-CD sets. In total they reach almost 300 minutes and 138 tracks, making effective use of DVD cases, which enable the sleeve notes to be almost like small paperbacks. And what sleeve notes! Full of detail about the performers, their material and oozing cross-references to other recordings, publications and a wealth of information about ballad sources for the scholarly. Plus some great pictures ...
The sound quality is excellent - no digitally restored 78s here - and the detailed booklets are superb. The atmosphere of these relaxed visits is also caught - chickens crowing in the background, fires crackling, the creak of the rocking chair ... if only there had been video as well!
Nick Pilley - in Old Time News
Some comments on the George Dunn records:
His singing is measured and precise and displays a grasp of both core melody and subtle variation that makes him a joy to lisyen to.
Steve Winnick - in Dirty Linen
George Dunn is a stately singer - by that I don't mean he is slow, but you never feel he is having to rush - there is a grandeur about his performances. His voice is strong and clear - remarkable for his age, and his repertoire is fantastic ... two packed CDs [give] a rounded view of a traditional singer's repertoire ... we are once more in Musical Traditions's debt for allowing us to hear another classic traditional singer in all his glory. As usual, a thoroughly informative and fascinating booklet accompanies. Very strongly recommended.
Paul Burgess - in Folkwrite
This collection is an archive gem, a must for those with an interest in songs and singing. We should heartily thank Musical Traditions for giving us the pleasure.
Ron & Jenny Day - in ED&S
Some comments on the Kevin and Ellen Mitchell records:
... this is an album of inestimable value. Kevin's singing has lost none of the vitality he first displayed three decades ago on Free and easy, and Ellen often sings with a burning passion ... the addition of an A5-sized booklet of lyrics is especially welcome, particularly as it includes comments from the singers and additional material on each song's source.
Geoff Wallis - in fROOTS
The CDs are of exceptional quality ... on hearing the first few tracks I was not only impressed and spellbound; I was inspired. Their singing demands that anyone within earshot listens to them - it's very difficult to concentrate on anything but the song. The whole CD is extremely compelling ...
Lu - a 16-year-old GCSE student - in EDS
In these CDs you are treated to the very best of both Scots and Irish unaccompanied traditional singing ... The package is exceptionally well produced, with an accompanying booklet containing ... full marks to Rod Stradling's recording technique, too; he has captured their voices perfectly.
Derek Gifford - in Folk North West
... thirty nine songs, not a dud among them, each one sung to the full by two grand singers. What do I mean by "grand singers"? I mean people who have the vocal and interpretative flair to carry off 'big' songs, of many verses, with complex word schemes and dramatic stories, songs that demand attention of the listener. Both Mitchell's have these qualities ... this is a double CD of the highest quality singing you could wish to hear. A real bargain.
Roy Harris - in Living Tradition
Thirty-nine songs on a double album is a wonderful treat from these two very fine singers. Kevin, from Derry and Glaswegian Ellen offer the best of the tradition from The North of Ireland and from Scotland.
Vic Smith - in The Folk Diary
Some comments on the Ray Andrews record:
Andrews is a deft finger-style banjo picker who makes everything from Tin Pan Alley tunes to a Beethoven minuet sound natural and easy ... the CD gives us a wonderful glimpse at an unusual and little-known tradition.
Steve Winnick - in Dirty Linen
Some comments on the Joe Rae record:
The Broom Blooms Bonny showcases not only ballad singing but also story-telling, and each of Joe Rae's skills looks all the better in the light of the other ... a fine example of the survival of these older songs among the working class in modern rural Scotland ... a fine addition to your collection.
Steve Winnick - in Dirty Linen
Some comments on Up in the North, Down in the South:
Here are 53 tracks, running 148 minutes, featuring 16 performers, many of whom enjoy a deserved reputation as the finest traditional singers we were lucky enough to hear in the last decades of the 20th Century. All were recorded by Mike Yates between 1964 and 2000 and the CDs are packaged with a well-produced booklet giving full texts of the songs with brief notes and references after an introduction in which Yates briefly describes his relationships with the singers and their songs. Of these tracks 19 are available here for the first time ...
Hearing these singers again, I have already dusted down the old vinyls - as I have also for Harry Upton whom I had previously neglected until the four tracks here persuaded me that I had made a mistake ... But what of the unissued material? Unless you are an obsessive completist you may take the view that hitherto unissued material is going to be second division stuff if it has been dormant for so long ... I suggest that thirteen tracks by three performers blow that theory out of the water!
The CD liner makes it quite clear that the purpose is to 'bring music which might never achieve a commercial publication to the small audience which values it.' A laudable aim. If you're sufficiently interested to have read this far, then you're a part of that small audience and this CD will bring you pleasure and enhance your collection.
Roger Digby, in Musical Traditions
Some comments on Just Another Saturday Night:
The local importance of these recordings and the accompanying booklet can hardly be overstated. They teach us so much about our locality that their significance is paramount.
Vic Smith, in The Folk Diary (Sussex)
The whole production is an absolute triumph - neither the quality of the singing nor the interest of the songs flag throughout the entire two hours plus ... these CDs contains that rare beast, recordings of traditional performers performing. Not singing to the microphone, or the collector, or in their front room or at a concert, but performing to a roomful of their peers, spontaneously, naturally and with an extreme of skill. This is a window on a lost world, the last flowerings of that period when these songs were an integral part of people's experience and when singing was an unselfconscious sharing of delight.
This is a piece of time travel, allowing us a rare glimpse into a different society with different values. Buy it, learn from it and treasure it.
Paul Burgess, in Folk Write
What delights there are among the 51 tracks on the MT double album! 'Pop' Maynard's name is prominent here and the eleven songs he sings would stand out in any traditional singing company;Down By the Seaside is quite masterly ... The real revelation of the Sussex albums is the six examples of the traveller singer, Sarah Porter ... here is a great singer who can be mentioned alongside Caroline Hughes and Phoebe Smith, yet if Rod Stardling had not got to hear about Brian Matthews' box of tapes, it's doubtful that any of us would have ever heard her name.
Rod [is] unlikely to make any money out of albums like this ... but deserve[s] our undying thanks and praise for making these riches avilable to us.
Vic Smith, in fRoots
If you have any interest in English singing, this CD is essential listening.
Rod Stradling and his team of collaborators have, over the past couple of years, produced a valuable series of recordings of British traditional singing. This could well be their finest achievement to date, giving us as it does performances from George Spicer, Cyril Phillips and Louie Fuller in their prime, and other excellent singers who are not available elsewhere on record ... a previously unknown traveller singer, Sarah Porter and other members of her family. She is an excellent singer in the typical traveller style and several of her songs have been rarely found in the tradition ... it seems quite remarkable that such a good singer would, but for Brian Matthews, have slipped through the net.
Musical Traditions has previously set a high standard with the booklets that support their CDs. The one that accompanies this release is the longest yet - it runs to 36 A5 pages and is nicely illustrated and full of useful, interesting and well-researched information. In addition to the usual excellent song notes, there are thumbnail sketches of the singers and musicians ... The playing order has been well chosen so that there is a nice mix of singers, and serious songs sit comfortably alongside the more light-hearted ones. This careful programming makes it easy to listen to the CDs through at a single sitting.
Roger Johnson, in Muscal Traditions
Some comments on the Joe Heaney records:
... overall this is a splendid achievement.
The CDs come from hours of tape recordings made by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger at their home in Beckenham in 1964. As the entire interview has been posted on this site for several months most of you will have already read some or all of it. It and the introduction by Fred McCormick make compulsive reading.
That Joe and others like him were virtuoso performers not only because of their inherited tradition but also because of individual creativity and personal effort was a proposition propounded by MacColl on The Song Carriers. It was a comparatively novel concept in relation to folk performers at the time and its truth is not fully recognised even yet.
McCormick rightly comments that "Joe is no historian. His manner is not one of academic detachment, or of objectivity ..." Thankfully McCormick and Éamonn Ó Bróithe have done a commendable job in footnoting, clarifying and rectifying errors and obscurities in the text of the interview and on the CD notes. The songs are transcribed by Dan Quinn (English) and Éamonn ó Bróithe (Gaelic). It has to be said that the transcriptions are impeccable and that McCormick, as editor, puts his practice where is mouth is ... Thankfully, it has to be said that the sound quality is not bad at all. And the re-mastering has certainly brought it, (in most cases) beyond the standard one would expect of domestic recordings ...
Such is the importance of this production I consider it only fair to give it the attention it merits and comment on every track ... there is not a single track on either CD which is less than fine, and most are excellent ... The contemplative mood with which CD 1 opens also concludes this great collection ... MacColl and Seeger have our gratitude for their foresight, and we must be thankful to McCormick and his team for seeing it through. Coupling this with the release of The Songs of Elizabeth Cronin, one can only say that 2000 has been a very good year indeed for Irish traditional singing.
Tom Munnelly, in Musical Traditions
Some comments on the Wiggy Smith record:
His songs always flow and hold the attention, and it is scarcely noticed at the time that his Barb'ry Ellen runs to only three stanzas, for he imbues it with all the weight of the full dramatic ballad.
... all are field recordings, made to high standards; the CD is an exemplary portrait of some fine singers and of one of the classic styles of English traditional singing.
Dave Atkinson, in The Folk Music Journal
Probably the greatest achievement so far of the Musical Traditions catalogue.
Wiggy is not one of those source singers with a long association with folk clubs and festivals ... this makes this release all the more important .... a record devoted to this central figure is overdue ... What marks out this singer is the sheer commanding power of his presence when singing and the quality and variety of his older songs. Some of the performances here, such as The Deserter, Lord Bateman and Rich Farmer of Sheffield are about as good as it gets.
Rod Stradling has gathered together recordings of Wiggy made during the 1990s ... presented alongside singing from Wiggy's father, Wisdom and uncles Denny and Jabez (known as Biggun) recorded in the 1960's ... including an amazing pub recording where Denny offers to reshape a drunken heckler's face with a glass ashtray without missing a single beat or word of a sublime Lord Bateman.
The booklet is a very careful piece of research ... there are fascinating articles and background notes provided ... good photos, too.
Vic Smith, in fRoots
Congratulation to Musical Traditions for one of the most significant contributions to recorded traditional song of the last fifty years.
This CD has its finger right on the pulse of English Gypsy contribution to the preservation of traditional singing. I can vouch for its authenticity, having participated in many gatherings in wagons and trailers and around campfires with English Romany families in the north. You can be justifiably confident that you are listening English rural folk song in forms and style that its myriad unknown and unrecorded practitioners from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries would immediately find familiar and recognisable.
I believe that this CD is a superb contribution to the national sound archives and one that every serious student of English Traditional song should have in their collection.
This is for the lover of song, sung in authentic style, no frills, no instrumental accompaniment, no artifice - just genuine. It's the best compilation of its kind I have ever heard. I can return to it again and again and hear new delights ...
Tom Walsh, in Musical Traditions
Some comments on the Daisy Chapman record:
Musical Traditions have also recently released two more portraits, from rather more obscure singers; one from Scotland, Daisy Chapman - Ythanside ... Chapman, who passed away in 1997, was born and reared in the Buchan district of Aberdeenshire, and her singing is a splendid example of that locality's style and repertoire. The big, open voice she used on festival and club stages makes her singing immediately appealing. On many tracks, a chorus of festivalgoers naturally joins in, inspired by her robust chorus singing and the gusto she clearly had for her songs. The very first song on the disc, Ythanside is a great example of this, and is also an unusual ballad beautifully sung ... which shows her to be a commanding, magnetic narrator capable of holding the serious attention of rowdy audiences. Juxtaposed with this highly public style, the disc presents a much more intimate home style of singing ... The album ends on a beautiful and poignant note, with Chapman singing the verse of The Dying Ploughboy that describes (in remarkably graphic terms) a heart attack; it was a heart attack that stopped her from singing in public back in 1976.
Like all the discs in Musical Tradition's series, Ythanside has a magnificent booklet. In this case, it contains introductions by Rod Stradling and Peter Shepheard, whose collaborative effort brought the disc to fruition; a brief but complete biography of Chapman; an interview with her that was recorded on video in 1987; photos from the video and other sources; a complete set of notes and lyrics for every song; and a list of every song Chapman is known to have sung. In all, it makes for a treasure-house of both music and information, as well as a loving and heartfelt portrait.
Steve Winick, in Dirty Linen
This CD has been a delight to review; variety in content - from the poignant to the comic - as well as notable variety of style... It is both a fitting memorial to a fine singer as well as a celebration of good songs and the enduring spirit which keeps them alive. We commend it unreservedly.
Moreover the CD is accompanied by a superb booklet which: has an excellent Introduction, gives all the song texts, together with current recorded versions and printed sources, and has a verbatim transcript of the video interview given by Daisy in 1987. Indeed, the booklet is a model of its type; erudite, lucid, and highly informative ... On listening and re-listening to this album and consulting the invaluable accompanying booklet, it really is 'bouquets' all-round to the dedicated team involved in producing this quite unique CD. Not least, all lovers of good traditional song owe a debt of gratitude to Musical Traditions Records, who have clearly engaged in a labour of love to provide such a valuable addition to the already large body of song from this corner of Scotland.
Geordie McIntyre and Alison McMorland, in Musical Traditions
Isn't she a grand singer? Even better than my memory of her suggests. I particularly loved Donside which I had not heard before. I have been haunted by that tune since I first heard the Joe Estey recording [of Hind Horn] earlier this year.
Some comments on the Walter Pardon records:
The double CD of recordings made by Mike Yates complements Topic's CD ... the accompanying booklet contains a listing of the whole of Walter's known repertoire and discography ... it is in this total picture that the real delight lies.
Dave Atkinson, in The Folk Music Journal
Intended as a complement to the Topic release, Put a Bit of Powder on it, Father features 'the other songs of Walter Pardon'. In this case, that has two meanings. In general, it means lesser-known ones that he recorded infrequently. But it also means a whole CD's worth of music-hall, vaudeville, and popular songs, fragments, and melodeon tunes; material that doesn't fit the 'folksong' mold ... I was frankly stunned at the number of songs that seem to have been recorded in English tradition only or mainly from Pardon ... Among these unusual pieces, he also offers beautiful, measured versions of widespread ballads like Caroline and Her Sailor Bold and The Bonny Bunch of Roses. As for the second disc, it gives a much fuller and more complete picture of Pardon's repertoire and musical experience, which is one of the primary points of the portrait album. But it also gives us a glimpse of some truly unusual and fascinating songs ... Throughout both discs, Pardon sings in a warm, rich baritone with his customarily unique and careful phrasing, making them both very pleasant and instructive listens.
The notes are even more complete than on the Topic release; after listening and reading thoroughly, you'll know a whole lot about this man and his music ... but you'll only be keen to learn more!
Steve Winick, in Dirty Linen
This issue is a very satisfying one ... For those who do not know Walter's history, this production, with a substantial introduction to his life and his singing practice, provides a good guide and I would not wish to pre-empt the fascination of the notes in the booklet that accompanies the recordings ... The portrait of Walter and his environment is a full one and, one supposes, unlikely to be bettered in substance ... Because of the comprehensive nature of the whole repertoire as it is now revealed there is less danger that this or that collector indulged mediation to a distorting degree. Integrity is splendidly served.
There is so much on these CDs to give pleasure and satisfaction to the listener and a whole body of information for interested parties to take their investigations further ... I can only end by repeating my delight which, I'm sure will be shared by many, that Walter has been revisited with this degree of attention.
Roly Brown, in Musical Traditions
Like the recordings, the excellent booklet notes avoid repetition, so enthusiasts can happily go for all three CDs.
Vic Smith, in fROOTS
Some comments on the George Townshend record:
Musical Traditions have also recently released two more portraits, from rather more obscure singers. The first is by George Townshend: Come, Hand to Me the Glass ... enthusiast Brian Matthews traveled to pubs and private parties in Townshend's area of East Sussex in the early 1960s, making tapes of his favorite traditional singers. I can see why Townshend was one of them; his singing is generally strong on this disc, though he was just shy of 80 in 1960 and 1961 when these tapes were made.
The result is a very enjoyable disc that's also quite revealing about the English song tradition. I'd say this disc is for serious enthusiasts rather than curious punters, but those enthusiasts will have a lot to sink their teeth into.
Steve Winick, in Dirty Linen
The booklet is up to the well-researched high quality that we are coming to expect from Musical Traditions ... this small but very valuable catalogue.
Vic Smith, in fROOTS
... a quick note to congratulate Musical Traditions, and you in particular, on the George Townshend CD. It's great to have these recordings made available and you've done a good job on cleaning them up. The booklet is very informative. Perhaps Peter Kennedy could have taken a few tips from MT when 'preparing' his Harry Cox notes for 'What will become of England'!
Keep up the good work; looking forward to the Walter Pardon double CD.
Paul Marsh, Forest Tracks Recordings
Some comments on the Cyril Poacher record:
This excellent CD ... the tracks on offer have obviously been chosen with great care, not only for quality of recording and singing, but to give an impression of the breadth of the singer's repertoire.
Dan Quinn, in Musical Traditions
Here it is, then, the real thing; as skilled, authentic and convincing an interpreter of English traditional song as the second half of the twentieth century can offer! Will it sell in its tens of thousands as it clearly deserves to? No, it won't ... Yet it seems self-evident to me that the performances here of Green Broom, Bold General Wolfe, Nancy of Yarmouth, The Bonny Bunch of Roses, etc. are those of a consummate performer, pacing his songs beautifully, using pauses delicately, making the melody fit the words like all good traditional singers.
There is a feeling afoot at the moment of exploring what 'Englishness' is. This album can tell you. My advice would be to buy it even if you think this is not easily accessible music. Keep playing it until its delights unfold themselves to you.
Vic Smith, in fRoots
In a comparative review with Harry Cox's What Will Become of England? (Rounder CD 1839, Alan Lomax Collection, Portraits Series - edited by Peter Kennedy)
How does the MT release stack up, then? Well, artistically it's superb - indeed, superior, since all the songs are intact ... [it is] characterized by the best possible use of limited resources ... Rod Stradling went to written sources, surviving family members, and friends of Poacher's to create a long, detailed artistic biography of the singer, and confines his remarks to the factual. While both booklets contain useful information, Stradling's pays more respect to the singer.
More important is the way the two editors treat the songs. Stradling respects the integrity of each song, looking for the best extant version and including each song in its entirety ... Poacher has a wine-dark voice somewhere between baritone and bass, and he applies it mostly to serious old songs.
Plenty of Thyme is just as good an audio portrait of a traditional English singer as 'What Will Become of England?', if not better. In either case, it's one of the best ever composed.
Stephen D Winick, in Musical Traditions
I have become a serious Cyril Poacher fan after working on his stuff for 'Root & Branch 2'. Yours is a great CD and I must have a personal copy! Please send one with an invoice.
Malcolm Taylor, Librarian, EFDSS
Some comments on the Bob Hart records:
... the producers have laboured with love and care; I commend the enterprise and effort which has gone into its production - a new cottage industry, the home production of CDs. I am enormously grateful for the enterprise and devotion with which they have made available something unique, and undervalued - and that a series is envisioned.
John Moulden, in Musical Traditions
This one scores over all the compilations by making such an in-depth study of someone who was clearly a major talent. The fascinating A5 booklet and photos add to the interest ... Projects like this may now be possible for the small number of people who know the importance of this music. It also opens up the possibility of a sizeable catalogue, produced in small quantities, but remaining available over many years. Good thinking Mr Stradling!
Vic Smith, in Folk Roots
Forty-six tracks on two CDs ... they provide an unsurpassed example of a traditional singer's repertoire ... bringing music which might never achieve a commercial publication to the small audience which values it. This they have achieved marvelously with this production. When is the next one coming out?
Bob Blair, in Living Tradition
In bringing us these 46 songs ... MT have done us all a great service. Let us repay them by buying these albums in great numbers.
Roy Harris, in English Dance and Song
It's hard to pinpoint the most remarkable thing about this double CD release from Musical Traditions. At 46 songs, it's probably the most extensive recording of material from a traditional English singer ever released ... this CD is made up entirely of unreleased versions from 1969, making it something of a 'time capsule' or 'lost album'. And, perhaps a point with more far-reaching implications, it's a burned-to-order CD set, a pair of discs made up on a PC and a CD writer; this eliminates the need for a 'run' and thus much of the production cost, of a low-budget, small-demand genre like traditional singing ... It will work best for people who want a document of Hart's repertoire or of Suffolk singing, as well as for people who want to learn some fine English songs. For them (for us), it's a rare gem indeed.
Stephen D Winick, in Dirty Linen magazine, USA
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