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COOPE, BOYES & SIMPSON - "A Garland of Carols" - No Masters NMCD13

With their roots firm in carol-rich Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, it was only a matter of time before CBS displayed this garland. However, in their quest for seasonal material fitting to their unfettered acapella style, they have cast their net wide across the island, the predictability of Coventry, Cornwall and Rottingdean being balanced by unusual items from Dilwyn, Herefordshire and two from Kings Langley (which may be north of Watford, but not a lot!)

On all but two of the fifteen tracks the protagonists plumb the depths and scale the heights of their tremendous vocal ranges in one, two and (Glory be to God) most often three-part magnificence. The Fraser Sisters contribute to Cambourne "Nowell" and with Georgina Boyes add their four penn'orth to a fitting finale - the Pentonville "While Shepherds" from Sheffield. Incidentally, I suspect Georgina also had more than a hand in the excellent insert-notes, but as she isn't credited, perhaps I shouldn't speculate!

"A Garland of Carols" superbly illustrates the variety and richness of English "folk-carolling" and will satisfy the uninitiated and the veteran in equal measure. Singing along with the CBS CD in private can't compare with doing it for real in public, but it does run it a pretty close second. Buy a barrow-load, give them all away and make sure that Santa brings one for you!

Alan Rose

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