9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
All is perhaps not quite what it seems,
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This review is from: Empire and Love (Audio CD)
As other reviewers have already said, this is a nice piece of work. It's also, in a way, rather subtle, intentionally (I believe) or otherwise.
My copy arrived in the same post as a copy of "Heydays" by Maddy Prior and the recently departed Tim Hart, which I'd bought in order to have a decent memento of Tim on CD, my vinyls being now a bit long in the tooth. Heydays contains what will for some listeners have been "the original version" of "My son John", which opens Empire & Love. The Imagined Village version demonstrates the ease with which a traditional folk standard can seamlessly be up-graded to the current day. One minute you're hearing Martin Carthy singing the accustomed words, and then then you're doing a double-take, and saying to yourself "Did he just mention Iraq and Afghanistan, carbon fibre limbs etc?"
A similar effect is achieved by over-dubbing the 1980's words of "Coal not Dole" behind an otherwise fairly standard Carthy-esque rendition of "Byker Hill". Top marks, however, again to Martin Carthy, for showing how effortlessly Slade's "Cum On Feel The Noize" can take on the mantle of a piece of contemporary folk music, if ever it were really anything else, of course. Carthy has elsewhere done something similar with Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel". Well-read folkies will be put in mind of the anecdote attributed to Ewan Macoll, who, having written "Shoals of Herring" sang it to the (then) ancient Norfolk fisherman and singer Sam Larner. Larner is said to have replied "Yes, I've known that song all my life", and no doubt believed that he had.
Even though I might not be an Eliza Carthy fan, I'm a definite Chris Wood afficianado. I was amused that it was he who got two shots on this album at "Scarborough Fair". This is, of course, the very song that Paul Simon says he learned from Martin Carthy himself. Do I like his versions? What's to dislike, unless you feel that he's in some way obliged to produce some sort of homage to the Carthy and Simon versions? Which of course he's not.
The rest has been said by others. This is a nice, beautifully arranged collection of familiar stuff, sandwiched between an opening track about Empire and a closing track on Love. It's not "about" either. Enjoy it for what it is. More soon, please.