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The Power of the True Love Knot

Shirley Collins

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Album Review

While credited to Shirley Collins, this 1967 album is really the work of Collins and her sister, Dolly Collins, who provides the fascinating instrumental settings courtesy of a modern reproduction of a 1643 miniature pipe organ, with its distinctive flutey sound. That sound, combined with Dolly's arrangements and keyboard decorations, give these traditional songs the sound of early music: restrained and almost medieval. The expansive sleeve notes give a background to the songs (Collins had worked as a researcher, both in England and the U.S., where she helped Alan Lomax during his 1959 U.S. field recordings), which helps the listener understand a great deal more about "Over the Hills and Far Away," for example, a song that's been reinvented since the days of John Gay, and "The Beggar's Opera." But above all, it's Shirley Collins' voice that brings these pieces to life. Breathy and often artless, there's a sincerity and depth to it that's both warm and undeniable. She lives these pieces, whether it's the tale of "Lovely Joan" or the ballad sadness of "Barbara Allen" (surely one of the best-known of all traditional songs on both sides of the Atlantic). It's easy to forget in the mists of time that during the late '60s, this particular adventurous strand of folk music found an audience outside the genre, when the Collins sisters signed to the progressive label Harvest. Before the folk-rock of Fairport Convention, Collins herself was already breaking boundaries, and this disc, with its pristine Joe Boyd production, was one of the first to demolish those barriers. So not only is it a small musical masterpiece, it's seminal in the modern history of folk music.

Customer Reviews

A find and a treat

This is a beautiful album. It will not be for all tastes, but but for bare beautiful folk/traditional music lovers, it will be a pleaser. The organ (her sister Dolly Collins, who is sometimes also billed) gives some sounds a medieval sound, and the production is quite clean for the time. If you like the Maddy Prior / Tim Heart albums that preceded Steeleye Span, give this a try. "The Sweet Primeroses" album is similar. Hopefully "Anthems in Eden" and "Love, Death & the Lady" will become available.

Biography

Born: July 5, 1935 in Hastings, England

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Shirley Collins, though almost unknown in the United States, was an immensely important figure in Britain's early-'60s folk revival and the golden age of British folk-rock in the late '60s and early '70s. She is one of British folk's most golden-throated vocalists, and one of its most eclectic, handling traditional fare, Renaissance music, and folk-rock. Any discussion of her recordings must also note the important contributions of her non-singing sister, the late Dorothy Collins, who was co-billed...
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The Power of the True Love Knot, Shirley Collins
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