THE WATERSONS - A Yorkshire Christmas

THE WATERSONS - A Yorkshire Christmas
Witchwood WMCD 2029

No matter what the season, a newly available CD of the classic Waterson line-up of Lal, Mike, Norma and Martin is not just to be welcomed, it is to be embarrassingly slavered over. So what if you readers have just got over the Christmas festivities, and so what if it's a live recording of a 1980 Radio Tees programme where our heroes' matchless singing is interspersed with non-Waterson monologue. This is a priceless reflection of the world's finest harmony group at the height of their power and glory, and the word 'essential' doesn't come close to describing how essential it is.

There are twenty-two tracks, half being Watersongs, whilst the rest are spoken word pieces by Kit Calvert, Mabel Race or Norman Benson, all of whom speak native Yorkshire with a delicious dash of Geordie. They talk so affectionately and entertainingly of bygone Christmas-related matters that even the late Peter Cook would've been hard-pressed to stereotype their contributions in the 'eee-it's-grim-up-north' pigeonhole.

Apart from the Pace-egging Song, sung in response to a Kit Calvert tale, and Stormy Winds which does have a lot of shepherd-related content, The Watersons hit the 'Christmas' target fair and square each time, with wassails, carols and a solo from Lal which my mate Jim Ellison describes so perfectly in Tykes' News as 'forty-nine seconds of pure gold'. And speaking of Lal, in"Emmanuel she hits a note in just one of the choruses that sums up the entire Watersons rationale in a heartbeat. More yet - the lead in Sound, Sound Your Instruments Of Joy is sung (with audible pride) by Martin. Surely I don't need to bang on any more. Go buy.

Alan Rose

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This album was reviewed in Issue 66 of The Living Tradition magazine.