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The Holly Bears The Crown
- Fled 3006

This album was made in 1969 but was not released because The Young Tradition broke up that year. Y.T. as they were known to their fans, consisted of Peter Bellamy, Heather Wood and Royston Wood. They have been described as "the south of England's answer to The Watersons" and they drew their inspiration and a lot of their early songs from The Copper Family of Rottingdean in Sussex. After their break up Peter Bellamy went on to make an name for himself as a solo singer though his edgy, nasal style was an acquired taste that not everyone acquired. On this album his voice is beautifully balanced by Royston's bass and Heather's soprano and the group have tremendous drive and power. Shirley Collins has the archetypal English female voice and was an inspiration to many younger singers, and her sister Dolly contributes haunting and imaginative organ accompaniments. "The Cherry Tree Carol" is one of the outstanding tracks on the album.

There are twelve tracks, eleven traditional and one composed by Royston Wood, and two readings, and the overall feel is of Christmases long past when the old and new religions interacted - when Jesus was the holly king, and John the Baptist the oak king.

Royston Wood died in 1990, Peter Bellamy in 1991 and Dolly Collins in 1995. This album is dedicated to their memory. We are lucky to have it. We were lucky to have them.

Howard Baker

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This album was reviewed in Issue 16 of The Living Tradition magazine.