Link to Living Tradition Homepage






Fledg'ling Records FLED 3057

The recordings of Shirley Collins have been zealously re-cooked in recent years, but the many fans of this enduringly influential Southern English singer will be on safe ground in adding this fifty-minute CD to their collection. Produced by Shirley and the redoubtable David Suff, it comprises tracks which didn't quite make Fledg'ling's Within Sound box set together with performances recorded live in Sidmouth and London in 1979, as she neared the end of her performing career. More than half of the 22 tracks are previously unreleased.

It's also to be prized because on most tracks Shirley is accompanied by her sister Dolly on piano and portative organ. She formed fruitful partnerships throughout her career - Alan Lomax, Davey Graham, The Incredible String Band, Ashley Hutchings and the Albion Country Band - but none stronger or more sympathetic than the one with her own sister. Together they performed songs learnt from relatives or country singers, combining a deep allegiance to their Sussex heritage with a readiness to try out new musical arrangements.

Some songs, like All Things Are Quite Silent, Come All You Little Streamers and The Gypsy's Wedding Day will be familiar to anyone who knows the Southern English tradition. Others, such as The Captain With The Whiskers, Rockley Firs and Black, White, Yellow and Green are less well-known and show the more light-hearted aspect of the sisters' repertoire. Every song can happily be wallowed in.

Shirley has written full notes on the songs, blending explanations of their provenance and context with personal reminiscence. She is a fine writer. Look out for a wonderful description of a walk over the Downs with Bob Copper. The album closes with The Merry Milkmaids, bringing this verbal snapshot of Dolly: "And there is my sister, sitting so straight-backed at the piano and smiling across at me, her hands, which were roughened from all the gardening she loved to do, moving over the keys playing Uncle Fred Ball's favourite dance tune."

Tony Hendry

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 70 of The Living Tradition magazine.