on 6 December 2003
If I could only have one Christmas recording then this would be it and Maddy Prior's voice is so well suited. The carols are mostly well known but are given 'the treatment' which can only enhance them. 'Angels From The Realms Of Glory',for instance, gets you moving and your feet tapping - a contrast to the very often 'dirgy' redition we hear so often. The medieval sound provided by The Carnival Band really do give the songs an authentic feel which I think is how they should sound and not the sterile renditions which you often get from choirs.
Tapestry of Carols is one of the best folk Christmas albums. After a lot of success as a solo artist and as a member of Folk Rock group Steeleye Span, Maddy Prior teemed up with the Carnival Band for a BBC Radio folk on 2 Christmas special. The Carnival Band had not long been formed and they were to perform popular medieval, renaissance and traditional music. They cover folk, early music, classical and contempory music. This was so successful they got together to produce an album of Christmas music called "Tapestry of carols".
Tapestry of carols is a digital recording by Saydisc Records. And it was recorded at the Quaker Meeting House near Bristol. This is an 18th Century building,
Maddy Prior is at her best on this recording with her wonderful vocals. She sings with passion and serenity, her vocals are harmonious and enthusiastic. It is a perfect performance from someone who is a champion of traditional music.
In their performance The Carnival Band give us lots of energy and fun.
In the spirit of folk music, this album blends traditional elements with other elements. Since folk music is a living tradition it is always changing and bringing in new interpretation and influences. This album offers a wide mix of influences but always in a traditional and tasteful way.
The album has a medieval feel to it. The use of instruments such as gitten, mandochello, double bass, tabors, basel trammel, glockenspiel, cowbell, triangle, cymbals, tambourine, violin, bassoon, clarinet, Shawms, curtal, recorders, bagpipes, fiddle, tin whistle, lute, mandolin, banjo, bells and vocals help to give us that flavour. It is a rich sound.
The vocals give a sometimes sacred feel and sometimes a rousing uplifting sense of joy. There are English and European influences. And also there are American influences in the interpretation such as the New Orleans Cajun fiddle on "Angels from the realms" The album has an interpretations of a traditional nature. With some clever marriage of styles that range from the medieval to 20th Century.
There are some unique twists of interpretation and they are all done perfectly.
It is a joyous album that will be always be a favourite.
on 26 November 2007
I've been listening to this every Christmas for the last eighteen years and haven't got tired of it yet. The bouncy, folky style of performing carols is much more to my taste than the more solemn choral recording of carols that you generally get.
This album has a nice mixture of carols, some well-known, some less well-known, some merry and some quiet, but all beautifully performed. I have yet to find another christmas collection that I like better than this one. If this doesn't put you in the mood for Christmas, nothing will.
on 5 December 2009
Whether Steeleye Span,Hart & Prior,the Carnival Band or Maddy Prior solo the same level of brilliance can be found especially her interpretations of English folk songs or Christmas ones which in her case means the traditional or medieval carol
Using rock music as a background to 13 albums from 1969 was done tastefully and in spite of only 2 hit singles and a low profile American career you could say Maddy Prior is one of the big guns of this area of music.
English folk music began with Shirley Collins who was paired with folk song collector Alan Lomax at one time when they visited the States but it was a specialist area until the end of the 60s.
America's folk music scene went back to Woody Guthrie and had a huge revival both in the mid 50s via the Weavers and again in the 60s with Dylan and his contemporaries finally phasing out into folk rock.
Which is the road that both Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span travelled with the former beginning as a rock band a la the Jefferson Airplane.
There's now a lot of Steeleye Span associated collectables including 2 albums of Nursery Rhymes by Tim Hart & Friends where Maddy Prior is a backup singer.
This though as a collection of Christmas songs is the real deal and a World away from all the mass market stuff heard in supermarkets at this time of the year
on 25 September 2000
This is the first album Maddy Prior, until recently the main vocalist for the folk-rock band Steeleye Span, recorded with The Carnival Band, in an old country church. Her voice is clear, like a boy treble, and simply amazing, and must be heard to be believed. She tours England with the band during the Christmas season each year. Maddy has several other albums with The Carnival Band listed in the Popular Music listings.
on 19 December 2012
I have loved Maddy Prior since Steeleye Span days in the early 70s, and my Mum bought the LP of this when it came out - I have always loved it. I love Maddy's voice - it is so strong and pure and expressive; and her collaboration with the Carnival Band has been fabulous. This is probably my favourite Christmas album of all - traditional carols performed in a traditional way - carols are songs for and of the people, rather than choral works, and this is a wonderful reminder of that. The use of early instruments and simple but stunning harmonies, with Maddy's vocals holding it all together, is so Christmassy, it's impossible not to sing and sometimes dance along! There is a lovely range of emotions, from the jollity of Ding Dong Merrily on High through the rousing God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen to the heartbreakingly beautiful Coventry Carol. They tour most years at Christmas, and I love to see them live, their shows are so entertaining, but for me, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without this album - and Carols and Capers, which you will also need, not least because it contains the Boar's Head carol, which you need to hear!
Basically, if you like carols sung in a folky sort of way - sung well but sung as you or I might want to sing them, with some wonderful instrumental playing - this is perfect. Can't help but feel that magical tingle of Christmas from the first note!
on 9 January 2016
This is a quite wonderful CD, and I bought a further three for Christmas gifts; one of the recipients said that it was played over and over, which was exactly how I responded to hearing it. The choice of carols is excellent, some being (unfairly) much-neglected and the music of all arranged with sympathy for their history and words, using appropriate instruments. For me, this collection is now set to be a permanent part of my Christmas celebrations.