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MAGGIE MURPHY "Linkin' o'er the Lea" Veteran Tapes VT134CD

Is it true in the course of the marvellous and pioneering recording work done in the 1950s under the auspices of the BBC, many of the singers who were thus discovered and recorded were extremely badly served by the agents of that organisation and were, having been paid the one guinea fee not only stripped of any rights whatsoever to their songs, but never subsequently informed when their performances were released on very widely sold albums. Many, like Maggie Murphy, who recorded under her maiden name Chambers, found out by accident twenty years or so later, and were quite puzzled to say the least.

When I was singing with my sister in the early 1960s, the first track, "Linkin' o'er the Lea", became a great favourite of ours and it was a joy, years later when I got to sing the song with Maggie herself.

This CD has sixteen tracks of the best country singing in that straightforward style that is to be found in the north of Ireland from a singer who is completely at ease with her songs and knows their worth. There is enormous humour in her singing - no surprise, for she is a woman who sees the comical side to most things, and who, incidently, always sings with the broadest smiles on her face.

The repertoire sampled here is about as wide as it gets, ranging from Child ballads to comic songs to sentimental songs to love songs - in fact the sort of thing that is (and was) to be found in the repertoire of just about any country singer in a healthy musical environment. This is a wonderful addition to the formidable body of work already undertaken by Veteran, and should be snapped up by anybody who loves lovely singing and fine fine songs. It's the kind of thing found with decreasing frequency in England and always a source of the most profound pleasure.

I am unable to choose personal favourite track because I love them all, and am constantly reminded of the great privilege and pleasure it is for me to count this woman as a friend.

Norma Waterson

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This album was reviewed in Issue 18 of The Living Tradition magazine.