Saturday, December 16, 2006

Shirley Collins

"The Sweet Primeroses" 1967

Shirley Collins is one of England's finest interpreters of English traditional song. Though not a technically accomplished singer, her breathy vulnerable style brings a convincing sincerity to everything she does. This CD features all of Topic 170 originally issued in 1967 along with the four track E.P. "Heroes In Love" from 1963. On a number of the songs she is accompanied by her sister Dolly on portative organ which provides a beautiful and haunting backdrop to Shirley's vocals, other tracks feature Shirley accompanying herself on guitar or banjo and a few are unaccompanied. A couple of cuts feature a chorus that were not allowed to be identified on the original album though it is pretty obvious who they were - the Young Tradition. Songs include some of the cornerstones of English folk song such as as All Things Are Quite Silent/ Polly Vaughan/ Streets Of Derry/ George Collins/ False True Love/ Spencer The Rover/ Rambleaway and one of my all time favorites - The Sweet Primroses - a lovely song under any circumstances but the combination of Shirley's vocals and Dolly organ playing are mesmerizing and never fails to send a shiver down my spine. Almost as good is the chilling Cruel Mother where Shirley's limited banjo playing and the chorus lends the song an eerie ambience. CD sound is excellent. Booklet includes original introduction by A.L. Lloyd and notes on all the songs by Shirley. (FS)

Forced Exposure:
One of the greatest English folk singers, with the Topic Records The Sweet Primeroses LP released in 1967. Those unfamiliar with the topography and historical geography of the SE of England probably picture bland, flat, grassy country -- over-farmed, distorted, contorted by man -- a land with no bones and no secrets. Anyone who has walked at dusk through the dark hollows of the ancient Weald or, with a stiff sea-breeze, on chalk downs in the footsteps of prehistory knows different. Shirley Collins' music, particularly where accompanied by the sonorous arrangements of sister Dolly, exemplifies this ambivalent environment of her ancestors. Born and brought up in Sussex, Shirley and Dolly were surrounded by song. The hymns and ballads of the countryside sung in church or in the air raid shelter, the songs, collected by Cecil Sharpe, sung at school. In the Collins family existed an echo of that tradition which had mostly disappeared by the 1950s, the ancient and wise tradition of song. Over the downs another pocket of traditional knowledge -- the Copper Family -- kept the candle burning too, but Shirley and Dolly, who had received a formal musical education, took the tradition on, exploring medieval instrumentation, working with innovators Davy Graham, Mike Heron, Robin Williamson, Ashley Hutchins, travelling on song collecting trips to the Appalachians and creating a body of work which is still relevant and resonant today. But it is on these early, simple songs that I think we hear Shirley and Dolly at their best. Singing the sad songs of longing, love and loss. Here we hear the beginning of their exploration of the dark underbelly of medieval rural music, what Shirley later described as 'the black horror of medieval song behind all the trappings.' Shirley's pure, innocent, unaffected singing casts sunlight shafts across the dark tales of child murder and fairy magic while Dolly's purpose built portative pipe-organ stirs in the shadows. This true folk music, like true poetry, raises the hackles on the back of your neck in acknowledgment of some ancient, almost forgotten truth.

Shirley Collins: banjo, guitar, vocals
Dolly Collins: vocals), portative-organ
The Young Tradition: chorus
A.L. Lloyd: introduction
Tony Engle, John Marshall: producer
Bill Leader :engineer


Blogger Lizardson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

16 December, 2006 16:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And another wonderful share!!!!!!
Thank you again for your fantastic work, Lizardson!!!!!

Best wishes to you


17 December, 2006 00:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have the best albums on this site, I especially love all of the british folk albums like this one. Thanks so much for sharing them!

17 December, 2006 02:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


17 December, 2006 05:13  
Anonymous Dolly Godfrey said...

Lovely album from a local lass! We were singing "Babes In The Wood" in the pub the other night.

26 December, 2006 00:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent album. Thanks so much!

22 January, 2007 19:44  
Anonymous Artist's Royalties said...

Currently easily available from Topic records.

30 January, 2008 16:46  
Blogger whadefu said...

fantastic, thanx...

24 April, 2008 01:50  
Blogger whadefu said...

link is now dead...

24 April, 2008 01:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, can you repost this link?

27 July, 2008 18:07  

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