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WATERSON : CARTHY "Waterson : Carthy" Topic TSCD475

To use a computer term this album has WYSIWYG, "What You See is What You Get". It captures the vitality of their live performance, an honest straightforward album where you can hear that the performers are enjoying their music. You can't manufacture the magic that comes from certain musical combinations and family groups often also have another special quality that is hard to pinpoint. Martin's solo work is well known, Norma's voice was so distinctive in The Watersons, the group in which she and Martin and latterly Eliza still sing in. As the daughter of two of the folk scene's best known personalities many people have tried to pick out Eliza's influences but in the true sense of the word, she is a traditional musician learning style and attitudes from her parents and expressing it in her own way.

Between them, Martin, Norma and Eliza all bring their own style to the group. The Watersons singing had meat and Eliza's fiddle playing has a similar robust strength. One thing is certain, you won't mistake them for anybody else, the sound is so distinctive.

Highlights for me are "When First I Came to Caledonia" and the final track, "Midnight on the Water" which is irresistible. Aly Bain amongst others, has popularised the tune, a Texas waltz, but here it is played both as an instrumental and as a song with words by Ron Kavana.

Topic's advertising material bills this as "new English folk music for the 90's". If this could be typical of what is to come I would be happy. They also boldly bill it as "the album of the decade". I don't think they are in much danger of being prosecuted under the trades description act. Many people have waited a long time for this album. They won't be disappointed.

Pete Heywood

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This album was reviewed in Issue 8 of The Living Tradition magazine.