Monday, 30 May 2016

"The Harvest Years" by SHIRLEY and DOLLY COLLINS (2008 EMI 2CD Set - Kathy Bryan Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

This 2CD set contains the album "Love, Death And The Lady" released May 1970

"…The Prospect Before Us…"

This August 2008 EMI 2CD compilation is a long overdue reissue of all the recordings the highly revered English Folk duo SHIRLEY and DOLLY COLLINS made for EMI's Harvest Label in the UK (most of it in the Seventies). 

As their albums are extraordinarily rare and hugely valuable on original vinyl - this remastered and specially priced 2CD overhaul is to be welcomed. Here's a bonny wee breakdown for "The Harvest Years" by SHIRLEY and DOLLY COLLINS on EMI 50999 2 28404 2 4 (Barcode 5099922840424)…

Disc 1 (67:52 minutes):
1. A Beginning
2. A Meeting - Searching For Lambs
3. A Courtship - The Wedding Song
4. A Denying - The Blacksmith 
5. A Forsaking - Our Captain Cried 
6. A Dream - Lowlands 
7. A Leave-Taking - Pleasant And Delightful
8. An Awakening - A Whitsun Dance
9. New Beginning - The Staines Morris
10. Rambleaway [Side 2]
11. Ca’ The Bowes
12. God Dog
13. Bonny Cuckoo
14. Nellie The Milkmaid
15. Gathering Rushes In The Month Of May
16. The Gower Wassail 
Tracks 1 to 16 is their debut album "Anthems In Eden" issued July 1969 in the UK on Harvest SHVL 754. Side 1 (tracks 1 to 9) is collectively called “A Song-Story”. 

17. The Sailor From Dover
18. Young John 
19. Short Jacket And White Trousers 
20. The Bold Fisherman
Tracks 17 to 20 are four outtakes from the "Love, Death And The Lady" sessions in 1970 (see Tracks 1 to 13 on Disc 2)

Disc 2 (73:31 minutes):
1. Death And The Lady
2. Glenlogie
3. The Oxford Girl
4. Are You Looking To Leave Me
5. The Outlandish Knight
6. Go From My Window
7. Young Girl Cut Down In Her Prime
8. Geordie [Side 2]
9. Salisbury Plain
10. Fair Maid Of Islington
11. Six Dukes
12. Polly On The Shore
13. Plains Of Waterloo
Tracks 1 to 13 is their 2nd album "Love, Death And The Lady" issued May 1970 in the UK on Harvest SHVL 771

14. Fare Thee Well My Dearest Dear
15. C’est La Fin/Pour Mon Cuer
16. Bonny Kate
17. Adieu To All Judges And Juries
18. Edo Beo Thu Hevene Quene
19. Black Joker/Black, White, Yellow And Green 
Tracks 14 to 19 are from the "Amaranth" LP issued August 1976 in the UK on Harvest SHSM 2008

Track 20 is “The Gallant Hussar” from the album "Son Of Morris On" by ASHLEY HUTCHINGS and Friends issued December 1976 in the UK on Harvest SHSM 2012

Track 21 is “Hopping Down In Kent” from the album "The Prospect Before Us" by THE ALBION DANCE BAND issued March 1977 in the UK on Harvest SHSP 4059

The 8-page booklet has an informed and enthusiastic essay on the Sussex sisters by DAVID SUFF - and along with TIMOTHY CHACKSFIELD - they organized and coordinated the compilation. 

KATHY BRYAN at EMI did the tape transfers/remasters and the sound quality is gorgeous - really clear, warm and full.

Shirley Collins held the lead vocals with Dolly playing flute-organ and occasional piano. The later recordings feature members of FAIRPORT CONVENTION.

It's worth noting that while some will describe this music as 'beautiful', I know others who pathologically hate it - simply can't listen to it at all. Without being the least bit flippant here, this is 'hardcore' Traditional English Folk and it's not going to be everyone's cup of Darjeeling. But, if they're prepared to give it a chance, even the uninitiated will find so much warmth and genuine heart here, because the songs are born of the real world. Most of the tunes have roots going back hundreds of years and tell of maids, family, weddings, struggle, ship life, poverty and war (one whole side of "Anthems In Eden" focuses on the women left behind as thousands of their men were slaughtered in pointless horror on the fields of France in World War I). Special mention should go to the four outtakes on Disc 1 - they're superb and fans of the sisters will eat them up - fully formed and beautifully produced - many will wonder why they've languished in vaults.

Dolly Collins died in September 1995; her sister Shirley received the MBE in 2007 and in 2008 was awarded the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for her contributions to English Folk music.

A typically excellent re-issue by EMI of important musical lights from England's wonderful traditional music scene. Recommended…

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