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.
Another MT issue, 'bringing music which might never achieve commercial publication to the small audience which values it', to quote their mission statement, and how lucky we are to have these gems which (but for Rod and Danny Stradling's dedication) would never otherwise see the light of day.
Here we have a Cotswold singer, recorded in the '70s, whose repertoire is typical of pub singers of the pre and post war eras, and is now largely forgotten. There are 56 tracks on two CDs here, together with the usual MT booklet, comprehensive as always, and featuring a broad range of material from traditional gems like The Mistletoe Bough and Maria Marten, through the obligatory tear jerkers (A Miner's Dream Of Home, Ship That Never Returned) and patriotic material (Hitler's Dream) to humour (I Parted My Hair In The Middle, Old King Cole), and everything else imaginable between.
Freda was big on humour and the emotional pieces so beloved by the Victorians and Edwardians, and although some of the tracks are fragments, they're all tantalising, and many have been heard differently than versions I used to come across in my area years ago. There are well over two hours of intriguing listening here, and it includes spoken bits of background from Freda, as well as a group of recitations at the end. The original recordings (many of them by Alison McMoriand) were obviously of high quality, and the end result is a most useful reference resource for anyone with an interest in pub singing and traditional songs, as well as an entertaining listen. I found a number of old friends, and so will you.
John Waltham - 12.10.18
writing in The Living Tradition