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Frost and Fire
Review of Watersons CD

By Julius Timmerman
Posted Friday, September 7, 2007

Frost And Fire, subtitled A Calendar of Ritual and Magic Songs, was the Watersons’ first album, recorded in 1965 after their discovery by Bill Leader. It had a huge impact on the British folk scene, and even influenced the eclectic rock and folk-rock scenes as well.

It’s a concept album with songs that follow the passage of the year - accompaniments to seasonal ceremonies and rituals. It begins and ends with wassail songs “Here We Come A-Wassailing” and “Wassail Song” and in between includes “Jolly Old Hawk”, “Seven Virgins’, “The Holly Bears A Berry”, “John Barleycorn”, “Harvest Song”, “Souling Song”, “Christmas Is Now Drawing Near At Hand” and others, 14 in all.

Norma, Lal and Mike Waterson are joined by their second cousin John Harrison (this is the only recording he made with them, being replaced later by Martin Carthy) to form a gutsy a cappella group singing in neat 4-part harmony with a totally authentic ring.

Excellently remastered and repackaged, the booklet has extensive notes and historic photos and there’s a slipcase as well. Not long in duration, but an important landmark re-release for the serious folk music collector and lovers of unaccompanied singing.

TOPIC TSCD563 (PLANET DIST.)

 
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