This review is written by Dai Woosnam, email@example.com, 9/02
For Christmas 1972, I was given a copy of the newly released “Bright Phoebus” LP, recorded for Bill Leader's TRAILER label. It consisted of songs by Lal and Mike Waterson, largely performed by themselves, but with assistance from a stellar bunch of (even THEN) Folk Greats. And, a bit like the man in the Pear's Soap ad, for the next two years, when it came to LPs, I virtually used no other.
But it is a tribute to the quality of the vinyl Bill Leader used, when I say that I have just played the LP for the first time in several years, and it sounds as good as it did nearly 30 years ago.
Why take it down from my vinyl shelf after such an age? Simple. This new CD is an attempt to revisit some of the original songs, plus others written by the duo around the same time, but not previously recorded. So I wanted to compare and contrast.
The new CD involves an even greater number of the Folk Glitterati, and I found it compelling listening. But although such artistes as Christy Moore, Dick Gaughan, and Christine Collister are almost incapable of doing anything LESS than “the magical” with a song, I have to tell you that the album suffers slightly by comparison.
And here is why. Obviously (and lamentably) there is no Lal. She was ALWAYS my favourite singer amongst the four members of The Watersons. Her loss was a great one.
But at least we could have had my second favourite voice from that foursome: Mike Waterson. Alas, for some odd reason, he does not appear until the fifteenth and last track (and then only as one-seventh of Blue Murder). And let's get one thing straight: nobody sings a Mike Waterson song like Mike Waterson.
That said, there is only one Mike Waterson solo composition here: they are mainly Lal's songs, but with three Lal/Mike compositions and three Lal/Christine Collins.
It is interesting now to reflect that there was never any doubt whether it was a Lal or a Mike song you were listening to. Just as with songs apparently jointly written by Lennon and McCartney, you could immediately spot the song-writing fingerprints of one over the other. (As a rule of thumb, Lal's songs are more oblique: Mike's more direct.)
The CD is worth buying for two reasons over and above any others. First Teddy Thompson: Linda's son by Richard. I knew he had made the UK pop charts, but I had never heard him perform. Here he duets with his ma on “Evona Darling”. Golly, that boy can sing!
And second, the high point of the album comes from two of the less celebrated performers: Kate Brislin & Jody Stecher. They really steal the show with their sweet harmonies on “One Of Those Days”.
And it is SOME show to steal.
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