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The Imagined Village

35 customer reviews

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A sonic emporium of traditional English folk, Asian percussion, dubstep, drum and bass and John Barry-esque 70's film soundtracks, 'Bending The Dark' is The Imagined Village's most thrilling, dynamic album to date. Pooling their vast experience and individual musical approaches, this collective - amongst them former members of Afro Celt Sound System, Transglobal Underground ... Read more in Amazon's The Imagined Village Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (15 Oct. 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Realworld
  • ASIN: B000T4F0J8
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,425 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. 'Ouses, 'ouses, 'ouses
2. John Barleycorn
3. Tam Lyn Retold
4. Death And The Maiden Retold
5. Cold, Hailey, Rainy Night
6. Welcome Sailor
7. Acres Of Ground
8. Pilsden Pen
9. Hard Times Of Old England Retold
10. Kit Whites I & II
11. Sloe On The Uptake

Product Description

Product Description

The Imagined Village was a runner-up in the BBC Radio 3 Critics Poll for the World Music 'Album of the Year' award.

Reviews:

Rated as one of Songlines magazine's 'Top of the World' selection for November 2007:

"[a] breathtakingly imaginative record that is sure to become an English folk-rock landmark, just as Fairport Convention’s Liege & Lief did in 1969" - Songlines magazine

"Top Ten Folk Albums of the Year: (5) The Imagined Village - Various Artists" - Mojo magazine

BBC Review

A press release accompanying The Imagined Village boldly proclaims it to be 'arguably the most ambitious re-invention of the English folk tradition since Fairport Convention's Liege And Lief. No pressure then, guys.

The brainchild of Afro Celt Sound System veteran Simon Emmerson, The Imagined Village certainly has a stellar cast list, with folk music luminaries Martin and Eliza Carthy joined by Billy Bragg, Paul Weller and a host of other contributors from across the British musical spectrum to create a formidable line-up of contrasting styles.

Given its world premiere at this year's WOMAD festival, the project aims to reinterpret some of England's most venerable folk songs by fusing old and new sounds to reflect the multicultural society of the country today. That this is a laudable and highly relevant concept is not in question, but delivering it in an authentic, coherent way represents a daunting challenge that The Imagined Village sometimes struggles to overcome.

Opening track ''Ouses, 'ouses, 'ouses' features a nostalgic lament for the lost English countryside from John Copper, a member of the revered family of Sussex singers who have been performing traditional folk songs for six generations. This theme of a disappearing rural idyll seems a little incongruous on a record that is supposed to celebrate the vibrancy of England in the 21st century, yet it remains prominent throughout, the inevitable consequence of trying to transplant the lyrics of a bygone age into a contemporary musical setting.

Sometimes it works; Martin Carthy belts out a storming version of "John Barleycorn" with Weller and daughter Eliza; Bragg gives a typically heartfelt performance on 'Hard Times Of Old England', bellowing bittersweet couplets like 'time was I could sell all I grew at the shop, when Tesco's turned up all of that had to stop'. Unfortunately, attempts at more radical departures from the original subject matter are less successful - charismatic poet Benjamin Zephaniah's dub-heavy 'Tam Lyn' sounds like it revels in its own adventure, but Jah Wobble and Leftfield were producing similar and superior sonic landscapes over a decade ago.

A brave experiment, The Imagined Village is too often constrained rather than propelled by its sheer breadth of vision. Undeniably well-intentioned and always intriguing, it nevertheless fails to scale the lofty heights to which it clearly aspires, frequently falling victim to artificiality rather than demonstrating the organic purity its creators nobly sought to share with a new generation of listeners. --Chris White

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 114 people found the following review helpful By morgan1098 on 21 Oct. 2007
Format: Audio CD
Don't let the huge number of artists involved with this record fool you... it isn't a dodgy "compilation" album. It's a stellar folk project that features a diverstiy of talent combined to make a beautiful, unified whole. From John Copper's heartfelt narration that kicks off the proceedings, to Benjamin Zephaniah's radical contemporization of the Scottish ballad "Tam Lyn" (over a bed of dubby and clubby beats courtesy of TransGlobal Underground and Simon Emmerson), the collection is top-notch througout.

For me the whole concept really gels with the final four tracks, beginning with Simon Emmerson's original composition "Pilsden Pen," a rolicking instrumental featuring acoustic guitar and bouzouki against accordion and a string ensemble (this song seems particularly suited to a live concert setting, and I hope it turns up in the setlist for next month's Imagined Village Tour.) This is followed by a cool re-working of "Hard Times of Old England," to which Billy Bragg has added new lyrics, and the production team has added an electronic bed of synths and programmed drums. Eliza Carthy provides some finessed fiddling, and the chorus sounds exactly like something you'd hear being sung by the patrons in a rural pub. The album concludes with the one-two punch of the "Worms and Moths" English Ceilidh Medley, comprised of Kit Whites I and II by the Gloworms and Sloe on the Uptake by TigerMoth. You will be AMAZED at the way these two bands combine several tunes into one extended jam, to close the album on a jubilant and triumphant note. There is hand-clapping, foot-stomping, yelping, fiddling, shouting, electric bass, drum programming, and just about everything but the kitchen sink strung across these two tracks. But it doesn't sound like a dodgy "world fusion" experiment.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By o dubhthaigh on 29 Oct. 2007
Format: Audio CD
Hands down, next to anything by Show of Hands or Billy Bragg, the best CD od Brit based music dealing with Brit identity that you will ever hear. Clearly on the world music scene, this is the CD of the year.
The brainchild of the collaborative efforts of the most creative artists in Britain today, there is everything to love about this disc, from the opening "Ouses, ouses, ouses", a charming and atmpospheric story from John Copper that is about a set of Chalk Downes, but could as easily be anywhere in the world falling prey to globalization, to the final set of reels and country dances reworked through the imagination of Trans-Global, Paul Weller, Eliza Carthy, Simon Emmerson and the irrepressible Mr Bragg, this is a work for the ages.
Weller and Martin Carthy take John Barleycorn for the ride of his life. Sheila Chandra and Ms Carthy sing like their lives depend on it (remember Sandy Denny - it's just that good!), and Bragg delivers a Hard Times for Old England that puts the lie to globalization and speaks truth to power in ways power aint gonna like very much. In many ways, the record reminds me of the seminal Show of Hands efforts, Country Life. And Phil Beer is on hand in this effort to add his deft touch at fiddle, mandolin, etc.
Production effects by Mass and Simon Emerson and Tunng give this record an edge that would have been inconceivable in the early days of Fairport and Steeleye, yet it is cut of the same bold cloth, taking a history of extraordinary musical tradition and breathing new life into it, yet retaining its authenticity and genuine vitality. Riding through Philly with the windows open and the CD blasting, people at cross roads would turn and catch the tunes and have the most wonderful experssions on their faces as the songs and their messages resonated.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Martin C on 22 Sept. 2007
Format: Audio CD
I saw these guys at Womad this year, they were amazing. Reinterpretations of classical folk style, in a loose improvisational setting performed by a group of fantastic musicians. Very highly recommended.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By M. Ash VINE VOICE on 18 Oct. 2007
Format: Audio CD
As a huge fan of folk and folk-rock I am delighted to see folk being carried forward through new experimentation and in new ways. Bellowhead have already done a great deal to bring a new voice to folk music this year with their brilliant 'Burlesque' album, and now traditional folk favourites such as Martin Carthy and his daughter Eliza, join forces with artists as diverse as Paul Weller, Billy Bragg and Benjamin Zephaniah to re-visit favourite folk songs and stories with a modern edge. It all works brilliantly thanks to exceptional musicianship all round and I can see this album being one of the most important in the current second folk revival that seems to be taking hold. Lets have more!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Machinetta on 31 Jan. 2008
Format: Audio CD
This collaboration is an absolutely credit to the musicians involved and brings some of our folk canon slap bang into the 21st century. The 'retold' lyrics lend the old songs added modern poignancy (talking of Tesco's profits, DJs, housing developments and immigrants in the dock, amongst other things), whilst the excellent musicianship 'modernises' the songs with consumate ease. I particularly like Sir Billy's new version of 'Hard Times' - one of my favourite songs ever - more power to 'im!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. O'Brien VINE VOICE on 3 Mar. 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A wonderful fusion that doesn't compromise any of its elements. If you can imagine a group of musicians taking the concept of something like Fairport Convention's "Liege & Lief" and injecting its crossover energy into something that's thoroughly 21st century, this is it. Check out Benjamin Zephaniah's haunted medieval fertility tale "Tam Lyn Retold" with Eliza Carthy's voice ringing out over beats from Trans Global Underground - or Billy Bragg's cri de coeur "Hard Times of Old England", or Martin Carthy handing over lead vocal midway through "John Barleycorn" to none other than Paul Weller, who sounds reborn himself in this role. Fantastic music, through and through.
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