Introducing these recordings on their first appearance in the mid-’60s A.L. Lloyd wrote of this new singing group’s ‘hand-crafted harmonies, an immediately recognisable and uniquely distinctive group sound which is uninhibited, spontaneous seeming and rich in texture.’ What became of The Watersons after that is history, and can be followed step by step in Topic’s other Watersons CDs. Early Days recaptures the youthful sound of the original quartet in 27 performances from long-deleted albums.
Marry Waterson’s introduction to this collection of her Mum’s artistic creations begins:
“Mum would really rather go without breakfast, dinner and tea than lose creative flow, living on coffee and Woodbines, her pen lagging behind her brain, refusing to pause to spell correctly through crossings out, torn pages, shopping lists and knitting patterns.”
Lal Waterson is known primarily as a singer and songwriter, a member of the wonderful Watersons. teach me to be a summer’s morning shows the full range of her creativity. The limited edition hardback book publishes, for the first time, a selection of her drawings, painting, lyrics, thoughts and poems to present a portrait of her extraordinary tender, intense, complex but ultimately very human artistic talents.
Here’s a little video opening the book for the first time and exploring the contents:
A CD is included inside the book – collecting together 15 songs drawn from her home recordings – serves to confirm her stature as a songwriter of rare imagination, depth and rich beauty. Just as teach me to be a summer’s morning was being prepared for printing and CD manufacture we finally tracked-down the original two reels of demo tapes from 1971 of the songs written for Bright Phoebus. Many of these songs have never been released previously, none have ever sounded so magnificent.
1 Never The Same
2 The Scarecrow
3 Evon Our Darling
4 May Butterfly
5 To Make You Stay
6 Marvellous Companion
7 Red Wine and Promises
9 Piper’s Way
10 Black Horse
11 Song For Thirza
12 Shady Lady
13 Once In A Blue Moon
14 Anna Dixie
15 Telephone Raider
In 1977 Lal and Norma Waterson, as a side project, recorded A True Hearted Girl – an album of solos, duos and trios (with Lal’s daughter Maria). Lal and Norma varied the tried and true vision of The Watersons on this outing, by only using female voices and in different combinations. This gives the album a different ambience and depth to The Watersons.
Highlights of A True Hearted Girl include The Flowers of the Forest, I Wish I Never Had and Grace Darling. This CD reissue includes two extra tracks; one from the 1966 Watersons album, A Yorkshire Garland, and a rare 1998 live recording of The Waterdaughters (Lal, Norma, Maria & Eliza Carthy).
Lal Waterson, Norma Waterson, Maria Waterson, Eliza Carthy vocals
Jim Eldon flute, whistle
Peta Webb fiddle
Rod Stradling melodeon
Tony Engle Anglo-concertina
A Bed Of Roses was the second album from Lal Waterson and Oliver Knight. Another collection of luminous songs and riveting performances. Sadly, this was to be Lal Waterson’s last recording, completed just before before her death in 1998.
Mojo magazine has declared Lal Waterson “up with Nick Drake and Richard Thompson in the very front rank of English songwriters.”
Lal Waterson vocals
Oliver Knight guitars
Maria Gilhooley vocals
Charles O’Connor fiddles
Jo Freya saxophone
Alice Kinloch trombone
Jody Stecher mandolin
Ray Cooper “Chopper” ‘cello
For the first time on CD, the complete album as recorded in 1977 with Lal, Mike and Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy. Remastered for outstanding sound quality and presented in a redesigned digipack.
On this record The Watersons give us a panorama of sacred song – from the deep folklore of wassail songs and vernacular carols, through various folky kinds of meeting-house hymn, and on to exuberant camp meeting pieces – folk songs, or near folk songs that we have lost or that have become unfamiliar – but all worth restoring to life.
- “This album displays the rich a cappella polyphonies that were the Watersons’ trademark.” The Independent Music Review
- “These releases, beautifully packaged and re-mastered in such stunning clarity, will blow away any complacency that familiarity may have bred and will serve as a reminder of what groundbreaking albums they were upon release and remain today.” Properganda
- “Truly glorious” ★★★★★ Songlines
- “These venerable releases shine in their newly remastered form.” Dirty Linen
The original classic album recorded in 1965 is now released in a re-designed package with extra photographs and with unbeatable remastered sound quality that makes it feel as though the group is in the room with you.
Seasons of anxiety, seasons of joy. The common people had their rites of propitiation and triumph, older than the rituals of the church and closer bound to their daily lives. This album takes us through a year’s calendar, displaying songs that accompanied these ceremonies, season by season.
The Watersons perform in the original classic lineup – Lal, Mike and Norma Waterson and John Harrison.
- “Quite without parallel amongst British group singing” English Dance and Song
- “Frost and Fire contains all the urgency of talented young people determined to record songs from a seemingly dying tradition. The results sound as fresh today as any recent Waterson:Carthy offering.” Morning Star
- “The Watersons’ first album was released in 1965. It remains a revelation” ★★★★ Songlines
- “These venerable releases shine in their newly remastered form.” Dirty Linen
Another masterful performance by the latter-day Watersons. Again, an original album by the full group has been supplemented with solo tracks by Mike and solo and duet tracks by Norma and Lal. In keeping with its title, the album focuses on songs of country life like While Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping, We’ll All Go a-Hunting Today and The Brave Ploughboy.
Lal Waterson, Mike Waterson, Norma Waterson & Martin Carthy vocals
Lal Waterson, an original member of The Watersons, and her son, guitarist Oliver Knight, have written some of the most captivating new songs to have been heard on the folk scene in many years. Other members of the Waterson clan often joined them on their records.
An entirely original collection of songs inspired by love, landscape, family and questing imagination.
- ‘Up with Nick Drake and Richard Thompson in the very front rank of English songwriters.’ Mojo
- ‘The most innovative English folk-related album of recent years’ The Independent
- ‘English as anything, poetic to a quite scary degree and harshly beautiful’ The Independent
- “One of those gems that deserves to be heard by a wider audience – a must-have.” ★★★★ Record Collector
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for pence and spicy ale introduced the “new” Watersons of the 1970s – when Martin Carthy joined the group. Two music papers judged it Folk Album of the Year in 1975 and, for many, it is the best album that The Watersons have ever produced. Topic has re-mastered the recordings from the original tapes to produce unparalleled sound quality, and re-packaged it in a handsome digipak. Between the opening song “Country Life” and the closing “The Good Old Way” are some of the most stirring performances ever committed to record.
- “This is the pinnacle of their prolific career – a wonderful collection of passionate solo voices and inspired harmonies. Ageless songs + sharp sense of adventure = certified genius. All time classic album.” HMV Choice
- “A staggering album – the luminous power and rich texture of their acapella voices unmatched in English Folk Singing. This is traditional folk music elevated to the highest art. The finest, most fragrant flowering of the English Folk tradition in the past 50 years.” HMV Choice
- “This classic album of British Folk Music sounds as fresh and astringently beautiful today as it did in 1975, when it was originally released…the harmonies they produce are sharply beautiful. The Watersons’ many fans will be thrilled to see this album newly available on CD with its tracklisting in the original running order – ESSENTIAL” All Music Guide
- “This reissue of a classic album is a must-have” Dirty Linen More Details >>
In 1972 Mike & Lal Waterson released an extraordinary album of their original songs – Bright Phoebus – on Bill Leader’s Trailer label. This magical collection of very English songwriting as long been acknowledged a classic and one of the finest achievements of the British folk revival. Inexplicably Bright Phoebus was out of print for many years.
Performed by Norma Waterson, Dayteller, Maddy Prior, Richard Thompson, Eliza Carthy, Blue Murder, Dick Gaughan, Linda & Teddy Thompson, Helen Watson, Billy Bragg & The Blokes, Martin Carthy, Christy Moore, Jody Stecher & Kate Brislin, Christine Collister & Oliver Knight … Shining Bright was conceived to pay tribute To Mike & Lal’s remarkable songs, and it draws upon the songs recorded for Bright Phoebus, and on a further dozen songs written at the same time but not previously recorded. Shining Bright has fifteen new recordings by some of the folk world’s finest performers. The songwriting of Mike and Lal is held in such high esteem that soon we had a queue of performers eager to contribute to this collection.
“The Coen brothers did it for the music of the deep south, Ry Cooder ditto for Cuban music.and now Topic Records have done it for Lal and Mike Waterson, two of English folk’s most original and searingly creative singers/songwriters. This is a collection that bristles and shines. A collection to bask in. A glorious gathering” Irish Times