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.
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
This is the album that Waterson:Carthy have been wanting to make for a long time. In 1965, their forerunners The Watersons released the landmark album Frost and Fire – A Calendar of Ritual Magical Songs, and the concept continues to fascinate them. With Holy Heathens they have eclipsed even that seminal album, amd the sound is a resoundingly full blooded one. The resonant ensemble singing is bolstered by The Devil’s Interval, a young and exciting new vocal trio of Lauren McCormick, Emily Portman & Jim Causely. They are further accompanied by guitar, fiddle, mandolin, brass and percussion. This fuller sound harks back to The Watersons and Blue Murder, but surpasses them for sheer excitement and thrills. In Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man, Waterson:Carthy have produced their best album to date – no question about it.
- “Beautifully played and sung and illuminated by Martin Carthy’s scholarly sleeve notes.” ★★★★ The Guardian
- “Their singing elevates the soul. Eliza Carthy has rarely performed more evocatively than on her uncle Mike Waterson’s ‘Jack Frost’ and Tim van Eyken’s version of ‘On Christmas Day It Happened So’ makes you shiver.” ★★★★ Mojo
- “… Whether it’s the presence of The Devil’s Interval, the inspirational nature of the material or the power of the seasons, Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy sound positively reinvigorated in the midst of it all, their voices and total conviction immediately identifiable. It’s a genuinely uplifting collection with fire in its belly.” fRoots
- “Eliza’s singing of her uncle Mike’s ‘Jack Frost’ is simply stunning. You should buy a copy of Holy Heathens for everyone you know.” The Living Tradition
‘This is deliberately an album of English music,’ writes Martin Carthy in his notes. ‘It is neither possible nor desirable to set up musical border checkpoints anywhere. However, there is that elusive and ever changing thing called identity.’ Assisted by members of Eliza Carthy’s band and the voices of other members of the family, Waterson:Carthy sing and play such timeless English anthems as Claudy Banks and Hares in the Old Plantation, ending with a stirring performance of the hymn Stars in My Crown, dedicated to the English playwright Dennis Potter.
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
A significant album by the reigning doyenne of British Folk Music, Norma Waterson. Produced by her daughter, rising star Eliza Carthy, Bright Shiny Morning is a solo project which not only highlights Norma’s passion for traditional material, but proves her to be one of this country’s finest exponents.
Norma continues to breathe life into material often centuries old. Aside from her wonderful, rich and distinctive voice, Norma Waterson’s particular skill is in her choice of songs and how she makes each one relevant to a modern audience. Norma’s career, which began in the early 60s with folk supergroup The Watersons, has continued to blossom and grow and today she commands considerable respect amongst a wide and devoted following.
“This is a magnificent album….Norma Waterson can be just as riveting singing a solo a cappella ballad as she is when accompanied by other musicians or singing in harmony with other singers.” Sing Out
The great family tradition returns to record their third album, this time as a four piece, with Norma Waterson, Martin Carthy and Liza Carthy joined by Saul Rose on melodeons and voice. The extended line-up results in a jewel of an album. Stand out tracks are Raggle Taggle Gipsies featuring Liza, The Bay of Biscay featuring Norma, the staggering instrumentals and Martin’s Bald Headed End of the Broom with New Orleans marching band added for good measure.
Norma Waterson vocals, triangle
Martin Carthy vocals, guitar
Eliza Carthy vocals, fiddle, viola
Saul Rose vocals, melodeon
Ben Ivitsky low whistle
+ The Phoenix New Orleans Parade Band
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
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
Waterson:Carthy’s fifth album includes a characteristically eclectic selection of material from a formidable range of sources. Much of the album was recorded “live in the studio” with a view to retaining the essence of the group’s live interactive performance and this goal was successfully achieved.
With one exception, the songs are about people who, whether or not they were born under a Bad Sign, certainly come – one way or another – under the Bad heading. It is almost a given that this makes for a programme of interesting and intriguing material. The set includes an outstanding reworking of the Jerry Garcia classic Black Muddy River, previously sung by Norma on her award winning solo album for the Hannibal label.
• “the synergy is quite electrifying” Observer Music Monthly Magazine
• “I urge everyone who is a traditional folk music fan to buy it. As always with these great performers, it was a pleasure.” folking.com
• “Something special happens when the first family of English folk gets together…This is folk music at its unadorned and traditional best. The uplifting harmonies of Norma and Eliza bring a joyous exuberance.” The Times
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
Eliza Carthy and Norma Waterson are quite simply two of Britain’s finest exponents of traditional song. They have recorded independently and together on many occasions over the years. GIFT is the first duo release from this widely acclaimed mother and daughter.
With their rich, distinctive and authentic voices they have effortlessly engaged new audiences and admirers across the generations. Widely acknowledged leading lights of the folk scene with enviable international reputations, both have received numerous BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards during the past decade, and nominations for the prestigious Mercury Music Award.
GIFT is the album that their fans have been waiting for, and features an intriguing and powerful mix of traditional and contemporary songs. From traditional folk classics – Poor Wayfaring Stranger, Bunch of Thyme – through jazz-infused or Old Timey gems – Ukelele Lady, Prairie Lullaby – the album continues to enchant the listener. No matter what the origin, Eliza Carthy & Norma Waterson bring all these songs to life with their great musicality and wonderfully compassionate voices.
Mojo Magazine has already declared GIFT to be “a classic” The album, produced at Panda Sound by Oliver Knight and Eliza Carthy, features a stellar supporting cast of friends and family, including Anne, Mike and Marry Waterson (vocals), Danny Thompson (double bass), Martin Simpson (banjo), Aidan Curran (guitar), Martin Carthy (guitar) and Roger Williams from Brass Monkey (trombone).
Eliza Carthy – “Eliza Carthy is one of the figureheads of the English folk revival…compelling” Evening Standard
Norma Waterson – “Possibly the finest English singer alive today” Mojo
ELIZA CARTHY & NORMA WATERSON’s splendid duo album GIFT scooped two awards at the prestigious 2011BBC Radio2 Folk Awards in London.
Album of the Year
Gift by ELIZA CARTHY & NORMA WATERSON
Traditional Recording of the Year
Poor Wayfaring Stranger by ELIZA CARTHY & NORMA WATERSON
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 >>
The seven piece group Blue Murder, made up of Waterson:Carthy, Coope, Boyes and Simpson and Mike Waterson, has been described as “Harmony Heaven” and one listen is enough to explain why – seven of the greatest English folk voices performing together with passion and spirit. The repertoire ranges between great traditional standards, selected compositions and original songs by some of the band members. Whilst much of the album is the full glory of the seven voices, about half of the tracks have the added benefit of Martin Carthy’s understated but impeccable guitar work.
- “..seldom has the unadorned human voice sounded more exhilarating. No One Stands Alone is destined to be one of the best British folk albums released this year.” ★★★★ The Times
- “A glorious rush of perfectly pitched and counterbalanced vocals that offers up a spellbinding celebration of the human voice and makes this a firm contender for Folk Album of the Year” Netrhythms
- “…singing and harmonising…top of the range…selection of songs…spot on, but more than that, there is a startling chemistry about them. There is a real mood of spontaneity and the idea of a group united by..a mutual love of the songs they are performing. Stand-out tracks include the rousing Bully in the Alley, the sentimental Land Where you Never Grow Old, and the devotional Standing on the Promises of God. Choruses made in heaven all. It is an album of qualities and values. Timeless.” fRoots
- “The collective warmth of their intricately meshed harmonies fully bears out the togetherness made explicit in the title track. The septet’s burnished tones bring dignity and affection to their songs, with Norma Waterson’s commanding voice proud and plangent at its heart. – …beautiful renditions of traditional songs such as “Stars in My Crown” and “The Banks of Sweet Primeroses” tempered by the poignant sway of something like “The Land Where You Never Grow Old”. The Independent Review
- “Performed in a dazzling array of harmonies by the best singers in the business – exhilarating – majestic and heartwarming. Essential” Mojo
With an eclecticism characteristic of its members, Waterson:Carthy’s first album draws upon not only the archives of British folksong but a Morris tune and a Texas waltz. What is transmitted to the listener, however, is not so much the skill of their research as the virtuosity with which they breathe life into its matter.
Another outstanding collection from Waterson:Carthy England’s leading folk group.
The core trio of Martin Carthy, Norma Waterson & Eliza Carthy are joined by new member Tim van Eyken on vocals and melodeons. Also contributing to the album are Martin Simpson on guitar, Ben Ivitsky on fiddle and Barnaby Stradling on acoustic bass guitar.
A Dark Light, first released in 2002, reflects the influence on the group of some of the great singers from the tradition, and therefore features a selection including songs from The Copper Family, Packie Byrne, Seamus Ennis and Sam Larner.
• “This great album…bringing a creative continuity to some of the great source material of the folk revival” BBC Radio 2 folk reviews