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FREDA PALMER - Leafield Lass

FREDA PALMER - Leafield Lass
Musical Traditions MTCD375-6

Another MT issue, “bringing music which might never achieve commercial publication to the small audience which values it”, to quote their mission statement, and how lucky we are to have these gems, which (but for Rod and Danny Stradling’s dedication) would never otherwise see the light of day.

Here we have a Cotswold singer, recorded in the 70s, whose repertoire is typical of pub singers of the pre and post war eras, and is now largely forgotten. There are 56 tracks on two CDs here, together with the usual MT booklet, comprehensive as always, and featuring a broad range of material from traditional gems like The Mistletoe Bough and Maria Marten, through the obligatory tear jerkers (A Miner’s Dream Of Home, Ship That Never Returned) and patriotic material (Hitler’s Dream) to humour (I Parted My Hair In The Middle, Old King Cole), and everything else imaginable between.

Freda was big on humour and the emotional pieces so beloved by the Victorians and Edwardians, and although some of the tracks are fragments, they’re all tantalising, and many have been heard differently than versions I used to come across in my area years ago. There are well over two hours of intriguing listening here, and it includes spoken bits of background from Freda, as well as a group of recitations at the end. The original recordings (many of them by Alison McMorland) were obviously of high quality, and the end result is a most useful reference resource for anyone with an interest in pub singing and traditional songs, as well as an entertaining listen. I found a number of old friends, and so will you.

John Waltham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 124 of The Living Tradition magazine.