Link to Living Tradition Homepage





MADDY PRIOR AND THE CARNIVAL BAND - Vaughan Williams: Carols, Songs and Hymns

MADDY PRIOR AND THE CARNIVAL BAND - Vaughan Williams: Carols, Songs and Hymns
Park Records  PRKCD111

Maddy has been making CDs of Christmas and other (eg gallery-hymn) music with the Carnival band for some time.  The Carnival Band’s mixture of ancient shawm and recorder noises, driven along by the odd electric guitar, has been an essential part of our family Christmas for nearly 25 years.  My kids grew up with this joyous racket in their heads and now can’t live through December without it.

This latest addition is slightly more restrained than some of the earlier, boozier festive offerings. It is, however, one of the best things Maddy has done, IMHO.  Some of the songs will be well-known to many.  Come Down O Love Divine is very familiar, while a rather jolly At The Name Of Jesus wears a different tune.  Meanwhile Back And Side Go Bare is a similarly jaunty version of a very old, robust song.  I’ve always wanted to have a pop at the RVW’s well-known Linden Lea (which I assumed for many years was a traditional song.  It’s not.).  Maddy’s version is so stunningly definitive that I’m now tempted not to bother, but I’m sure I’ll recover and have a go.

One interesting facet of this CD is that, owing to the nature of the material - Linden Lea is a good example - Maddy displays greater vocal flexibility than ever before, if you can believe that.  That voice - now part of most folkies’ acquired DNA, from Tim-and-Maddy, Steeleye, Silly Sisters etc. is capable of softening and sounding almost “classically-trained” … and I mean that as a VERY positive comment.  It’s never anywhere near prissy, but it is respectful of a different tradition and style.  Perhaps fittingly, as Vaughan Williams was one of the few classical composers to really get his head around traditional song properly, Maddy has given us a perfect (in my view) folk-classical “crossover” CD. 

The arrangements from the band are spot-on, weaving a beautiful backdrop (with a nice nod to RVW’s Lark Ascending on The Woodcutter’s Song) that supports, but doesn’t interfere with, these beautiful songs.

As my wife knows, I have, with thousands of other male folk fans, been secretly in love with Maddy Prior (in a purely platonic way, of course!) since 1970.  This extraordinary CD has not dimmed the flame one jot.  Buy it.  That is an order.

Alan Murray

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 88 of The Living Tradition magazine.