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113 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bridging the gap...
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...
Published on 21 Oct. 2007 by morgan1098

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars My lesson was learning that one good track is not enough to buy a whole CD !
I bought this CD on the strength of hearing one track (Eliza Carthy) .... she was great, but the rest of the tracks I thought were pretty average.
Published 19 months ago by Alayne McLaren


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113 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bridging the gap..., 21 Oct. 2007
By 
morgan1098 (Colorado Springs, Colorado USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Imagined Village (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. Rather, it contains all of the grit and authenticity of the original songs.

Indeed, the same could be said for the entire Imagined Village album. You need to hear it for yourself, and if possible, listen to it several times all the way through from start to finish. It will grow on you with each listen. The Imagined Village might well be the album that finally bridges the gap between the folk music purists and the advocates of 21st-century innovation. It brings both worlds together with greater harmony and grace than any other album of its kind.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oim 'alf english, 29 Oct. 2007
By 
o dubhthaigh (north rustico, pei, canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Imagined Village (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.
You'll be hard pressed to find a better disc than this in any discipline, but then with Weller, Bragg, the Carthys and the others assembled, how could you? This is just sooooooo incredibly great!
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 22 Sept. 2007
By 
This review is from: The Imagined Village (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeping the tradition alive, 18 Oct. 2007
By 
M. Ash (Lancashire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Imagined Village (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
5.0 out of 5 stars English folk - alive and kicking!, 31 Jan. 2008
This review is from: The Imagined Village (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Fusion without compromise, 3 Mar. 2008
By 
C. O'Brien (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Imagined Village (Audio CD)
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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most exciting innovative album of the year, 22 Nov. 2007
By 
Mr. Martin Hardy "martinhardy2" (Darlington, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Imagined Village (Audio CD)
This album redefines both "Englishness" and "English Folk Music" it makes English Folk as exciting as it's Celtic brethren and takes it a giant stride into the 21st Century. More than it's so fresh and topical, yet also gives you hope and uplifts your spirit.

In principle it's a "concept album" to use that now derided term. Yet taken in isolation the tracks are so diverse not only in their style but also in their personnel, we have the opening "'Ouses, 'ouses, 'ouses" which starts with spoken voice musing on the changing face of the English countryside and then progresses through standout tracks like Benjamin Zephaniah's reworking of Tam Lyn as a tale of love and illegal immigration, the stunning "Cold, Hailey, Rainy Night" and Billy Bragg's re-wording of "Hard Times Of Old England" to give an ultimately positive message of England and Englishness re-born.

It's not just great music, it's also important social commentary and it's the best album of the year. Bar none.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brill, brill, brill!, 2 Mar. 2008
By 
Andria Haffenden (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Imagined Village (Audio CD)
Just can't stop listening to this one - love Simon Emmerson's stuff anyway, but thanks for introducing me to some folks I've not heard of. Tiger Moth just make me want to dance!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who said folk was a thing of the past?! One of the finest albums all year, 22 Oct. 2007
By 
Mr. Aubergine (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Imagined Village (Audio CD)
This really took me by surprise. It's not often a new folk album catches my attention, in fact, new folk albums don't tend to catch my attention at all, being more into the Hip-Hop and electronic side of things. I tracked this record down though after hearing the epic "Cold Hailey Rainy Night", and was not disappointed.

The idea behind the album is to remix and update traditional English folk songs of the past for a broader audience. The result is surprisingly good, as the songs sound entirely fresh and relevant while still retaining their historic edge. It's a brave idea that's bound to stir up thoughts among some of the hardened folk aficionado's. But like it or not, you've really got to admire the ambition in it.

Remember, people have become so used to only hearing old folk songs sung by an old man with a gray beard, strumming away plainly on an acoustic guitar somewhere in the corner of a pub. There's nothing strictly wrong with that, but it's become a dead-end cliche. This album challenges that, and says that folk music can still be interesting, important and taken seriously if musicians dare to approach it in a unique way. "Tam Lyn" for example, features poet Benjamin Zephaniah taking the old famous tale out of the forest and into the concrete jungle, amid paranoid urban soundscapes and dubstep-style beats. "Cold Hailey Rainy Night", probably my favourite song on the whole album, turns an old song about a soldier seeking somewhere to lay his head on a stormy night, into something completely epic and spine-tingling, with thunderous dhol-drums and sitars used with brilliant effect, plus some vocal performances of a lifetime by Chris Wood and Eliza Carthy. "Death and the Maiden" offers a quirky, indie take on things, while "Hard Times Of Old England" features the legendary Billy Bragg putting some perspective on the struggle that's faced rural England throughout time, and still continues to today, only amid a different form.

With all the talk of English identity that surrounds this album though, it would be a mistake to confuse it for some kind of political album, or just as a daring musical experiment, because it's really much more than that. It's about the songs, and great songs they are. Sung throughout the ages, adopted or remixed by each passing generation, they would be a crime to forget. Hearing them reworked and produced so well offers a new chance to appreciate them even more. Let's hope that continues well into the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meet the new folk, same as the old folk..., 29 May 2013
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This review is from: The Imagined Village (Audio CD)
This album mixes traditional songs with new arrangements and artists you might not expect. Asian and African musical slants, Benjamin Zephaniah, Paul Weller - it's a million miles away from the stereotypical image of folk. This is good, because the stereotypical image is dead wrong. Folk is alive, it grows and changes, and it has always been thus. 'Tam Lyn Retold' is a great example of this. Britain is, and always has been, multi-cultural - and this CD demonstrates that in the best way.

Ditch the sweater, get your finger out of your ear - this is how we do it.
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