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VARIOUS ARTISTS - "Ballads" - Fellside FECD110

Anyone who can talk can sing but not everyone who sings is a singer. Even among singers ballads are often set to "easier" tunes, shortened or avoided. I have no qualms with adaptations. The texts and airs for many of the ballads are readily available and worth trying as a starting point but they aren't set in stone. No by-laws. No fixed penalties. No threat of EFDSS or TMSA excommunication. Many of the text sources are mentioned in sleeve notes of this CD, Francis J. Child, Bertrand Bronson, Gavin Grieg and Arthur Quiller-Couch. Indeed all thirteen ballads have their appropriate reference numbers as listed in Francis J. Child's lengthy work. Your local library may well have copies of these and other sources. Child's ballad collection is well worth seeking out, the background notes on sources and variants themselves are a good read.

Traditional singing style is another subject that has whiled away many's a long winter's evening in keen debate. The singers featured here all display various strands and facets associated with a traditional style but still retain their individuality and include Christine Kydd, Maddy Prior, John Kirkpatrick, Frankie Armstrong, Nic Jones, Brian Peters and Gordeanna McCulloch. There is also a wide choice of song and range of interpretation with,"The Lover's Ghost", "Mill O'Tifty's Annie", "Chyld Owlett", "Lord Bateman" and "The Bonnie Banks Of Fordie". There are shorter ones, longer ones and some that are heaver and more challenging than others but for the most part this is a grand mix of good songs and good singers.

Peter Fairbairn

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This album was reviewed in Issue 20 of The Living Tradition magazine.