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VARIOUS ARTISTS - "Enlist for a Soldier" - FTSR3
VARIOUS ARTISTS - "Seasons, Ceremonies & Rituals" - FTSR5

This brace of anthologies shows in 145 minutes that wars, the changing seasons, and good product from the Fellside label will always be with us. They are part of The Repertoire Series of thematic albums based on material first released by Traditional Sound Recordings, a highly regarded label run by Brian Horsfall in the 70s and 80s. The series is aimed at singers and musicians looking for material for performance and at schools looking for source material for history, English and music classes.

Many of the TSR artists are still active as club and festival stalwarts, while some have left the stage. Here's some random names to tug at your memory or tickle your curiosity - The Ripley Wayfarers, White Hart, The Truggs, Rams Bottom, Canny Fettle, Teesside Fettlers, Laurence Platt, Graham and Sheila Nelmes, Preston Isle Metal Band, and Johnny Collins. Reinforcements come from Fellside's own roster of artists including Cockersdale and Linda Adams. The songs and occasional tunes are mostly traditional, but with a well-judged seasoning of recent material.

"Enlist For A Soldier" gives us the lives and violent deaths of British soldiery from the Civil War to the Falklands. The sufferings of those they left behind are not forgotten. The final third of the album is especially impressive, taking in Danny Deever (Kipling), Jamie Foyers (MacColl), D-Day Dodgers (Henderson) and Ian Walker's Roses in December.

"Seasons, Ceremonies & Rituals" takes us through the calendar in song and Morris tune. There are shades of the Watersons' "Frost and Fire", and some of the same songs, but plenty of less familiar material. It is pleasant English pastoral - just what some of those soldiers would have dreamt about when far from home and scared of dying. There's more to come in this budget price series. Well worth investigating even if you don't sing, play or teach.

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 50 of The Living Tradition magazine.