Carols And Capers
The Carnival Band & Maddy Prior
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Admittedly, it would be a stretch to file this as a Celtic recording, but since Maddy Prior's connections to that revival of the '60s and '70s are well documented (her band Steeleye Span borrowed heavily, at times, from the Celtic tradition), prevailing interest in her music still exists in Celtic circles. This is her second Christmas recording with the Carnival Band, a musical troupe that specializes in early music forms, playing instruments like clarinet, recorders, shawm and lute as well as fiddle, tin whistle and bagpipes. Capers and Carols is an unlikely collection of secular and mostly sacred songs that range from the seldom-heard "Boar's Head Carol" and the Cajun forerunner "Monsieur Charpentier's Christmas Stomp" to instrumental interludes of "Turkey in the Straw" and "Old Joe Clark." The a cappella American spiritual "Poor Little Jesus" contains a moving four-part harmony backup by the Carnival Band. This album doesn't necessarily produce images of snowflakes, holly and St. Nick, but it does provide a welcome alternative to some of the overplayed ghosts of Christmas past.