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4.7 out of 5 stars18
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band have created some unique recordings of Christmas music over the years. They have mixed classical, folk, medieval and country elements into a glorious sound.
There have been many albums since they were brought together in 1984 for BBC Radio 2 Folk show.
This is a collection of tracks covering some of the highlights of that long recording career.
The debut album was TAPESTRY OF CAROLS on Saydisc Records. A Tapestry of Carols
Six songs that originally appeared on that album are included here. They are The Coventry Carol, Ding Dong merrily on high, The Holly and the Ivy, Personent Hodie, God rest ye merry Gentlemen, Angel's from the realms of glory. Then the next album was CAROLS AND CAPERS on Park Records. Carols and Capers The tracks from that album that are included in the Best of compilation are While shepherds watched, Monsieur Charpentier' Christmas Swing, Joy to the World, See amid the winter's snow, Poor Little Jesus, The Boar's Head, The Cradle Song and Away in a Manger.
Those two albums are the biggest contributors to this collection. Also on this album is Bright evening star, Bring us in good ale and The quiet way home. All from the album RINGING THE CHANGES Ringing the Changes
There are two further tracks from GOLD FRANKINCENCE AND MYRRH Gold, Frankincense and Myrrhcalled Hark hark what news and The carnel and the crane.
Finally there is one track called Blake's cradle song from VAUGHN WILLIAMS CAROLS , SONGS AND HYMNS Vaughan Williams: Carols, Songs & Hymns and one track from the Carnival Band album HOY POLLOI. Hoi Polloi The track is La Danse.
The tracks on this compilation are in mixed order of recording but the sound is fine throughout. Each of the original albums are highly recommended on their own. But this compilation does make a great package and a good album in its own right.
Maddy Prior 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. And in their performance The Carnival Band give us lots of energy and fun.
Some of the tracks have a medieval feel to it. Others have Traditional folk flavour whilst others have clear Classical and blue grass influences,
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"
This is a great Best of collection and it gives a good cross section of what Maddy and the band have been doing all these years.
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on 28 January 2013
It was a great addition to our Christmas.
Everyone could do with a copy as it leaves you with a feeling of joy.
We all enjoyed the changes of music to very familiar carols.
Only sorry that I ordered it so late.
I shall make a point of playing it when I make the family Christmas cakes this year.
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on 20 December 2012
If you have to have one Christmas albumn then it might just as well be this one. Interesting mix of carols and seasonal songs played on a variety of instruments, both modern and ancient. The vocal talents of Maddy Prior are excellent, as always. I saw them live recently and it is good to see that traditional music is still being played and played well. For fans of Steeleye Span and Bellowhead.
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on 20 January 2013
Great to listen to the old fashioned carols that have been sung for centuries. Just listen to the clarity of Maddy's voice and the instruments used by the band. Saw them live and they were superb.
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on 13 December 2013
A brilliant collection with a refreshingly different take on the carols you know and the inclusion of many new ones. Highly reccommended to one and all the brighten up your Christmas.
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on 11 February 2013
I liked Maddy when she was with Steel Eye Span and when I heard one of the carols before Christmas thought it was so different that it would be fantastic to hae the whole CD
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on 4 January 2015
We bought this last Christmas and got it out again this year.

The music is very different to what you might hear at a carol concert. Until the late 19th century carols were sung in pubs rather than church, many of the songs on this take you back to that time. Maddie Priors voice and the early instruments are ideal for this music

We love it
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on 23 January 2013
I've enjoyed Maddy Prior's singing since way back when Steeleye Span first appeared. Her voice still has the same strenghth and distinctive timbre. This is first-rate as a Christmas celebration - carols delivered with Christian sincerity but without the sentimentality. Wonderful.
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on 19 January 2013
A good album, with a varied mixture of tracks. Seasonal but will stand playing throughout the year. This has become one of my favourite Maddy Prior albums
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on 27 February 2014
This is a lovely fresh compilation and antidote to the saccharin sweetness of so many offerings at this time. Maddy Prior has such a great voice.
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