The English quartet Heritage (not to be confused with the Scottish group
of the same name) sing (mostly) folk songs a cappella in four-part harmony; and, with Canada's Finest Kind
, they're certainly the best at it that I've ever heard. Their arrangements are imaginative, their voices are spot on pitch to the nearest cycle, and the counterpoint is stunning. I heard them sing "The Banks of the Nile" on John Peel (of all things), and rushed out and bought the album.
The title comes from "Mad Tom of Bedlam" (the tune of which was written by Nic Jones and Dave Moran of The Halliard
, although this isn't credited). If they ever made another album, I'm unaware of it.
There are four tracks ("Lida Rose", "All the Good Times", "Puttin' on the Ritz" and "Vampire Rag") on which (like many others on their first albums) they attempt to demonstrate their versatility, and for me these don't really come off -- hence four stars instead of five. But the rest of the album more than compensates.
a1) Mad Tom of Bedlam
a2) Searching for Lambs
a3) The Banks of the Nile
a4) Cold Blow and the Rainy Night
a5) Polly on the Shore
a6) Ripe and Bearded Barley
a7) William Taylor
b1) Come All Ye Worthy Christians
b2) Lida Rose
b3) The Hard Times of Old England
b4) Puttin' on the Ritz
b5) Poor Man's Labours
b6) All the Good Times
b7) Vampire Rag