Musical Traditions Records MTCD375-6
CD 1: Up in the North; Daughter of Shame; A Miner's Dream of Home; Eighteen Pence; The Fox and Grey Goose; Home Sweet Home; Old King Cole; Oh What has Changed You; One of Our Streets; Put a Bit of Powder on it Father; The Week Before Easter; Chick Chick Chicken; Break the News to Mother; Billy Brown; A Little Bird built a Nest; The Mistletoe Bough; I Parted My Hair in the Middle; Teddy O'Neill; A Frog he Would a Wooing Go; As I Was a Walking; Father's got a Job; The Titanic; The Wandering Girl; If Those Lips parody; The Dumb Maid.
CD 2: The Banks of Sweet Dundee; I Wish I Was Single Again; Little Cock Sparrow; Young Folks Old Folks; Three Jews from Jerusalem; After the Ball; Old Johnny Bigger; The Bailiff's Daughter; Jack and the Squire; Villikins and Dinah; The Little Shirt me Mother Made for Me; A Man that's Done Wrong; Mother Caught a Flea; Your Faithful Sailor Boy; Good Company; What did You do in the War Daddy?; Needle Cases; A Group of Young Squaddies; I'll Sing of Martha; Oxford City; The Ship that Never Returned; Maria Marten; Old Mammy Mine; The Ship I Love; The Warwickshire RHA; William and Mary; Young Williams; Hitler's Dream; Murphy's Little Girl; The Orphan Girl; A Dialect Story.
Here is another of those 'the ones that nearly got away' stories. Rod Stradling was seeking out recordings of Freda for this project and knew that Mike Yates had recorded a number of her songs and that there was a smaller number recorded by Steve Roud and by Gwilym Davies. As usual he wanted to access the Roud Index for information and numbers for the booklet notes. There he found references to four recordings made by Alison McMorland mentioned in one of Alison's books. An email conversation ensued in which it was established that Alison had recorded lots of songs and stories from this Oxfordshire singer, at an earlier date than some o the others, and that she was in good voice at the time. These were to become the main source of the 135 minutes and 56 items that make up this double CD.
Freda was born in 1908 and from quite a young age she was working with her mother as a glover and a lot of songs came to her that way,
These CDs have a great deal to teach us - not just the songs themselves, but also, for instance, about the repertoire of a singer who would have started singing about a century ago. The earlier collectors would have been delighted to find the likes of Faithful Sailor Boy, Banks Of The Sweet Dundee, Up In The North but would probably have neglected to note others - rural comic ditties, music hall songs. They might not have been so keen to encounter After The Ball Was Over.
Steve Roud and others are encouraging us to gave more importance to the 'process' that songs undergo when sung by our rural song performers rather than focusing on their 'origin'. This brings singers like this one much more to the fore.
The 44-page booklet is of the high standard that we have come to expect from Musical Traditions and the collectors, other enthusiasts and transcribed interviews with Freda herself all contribute to building a picture of her life and her singing.
Vic Smith - 7.6.18