The first album by the trad folk duo of Tim Hart and Maddy Prior, Folk Songs of Olde England, Vol. 1, is as interesting for what came of it as for what it is. This album, recorded in 1968, led directly to the formation of Steeleye Span, whose early albums were an electrified variation on this album's traditional acoustic British folk-rock. It could also be argued that Hart and Prior's example was influential in Fairport Convention's decision to move from a California-style folk-rock sound into something more uniquely British. In light of what came after, Folk Songs of Olde England, Vol. 1 sounds a bit tentative and at times slightly twee (Prior's voice has not quite matured into the rich, expressive instrument it would soon become), but on their own merits, these sensitive renditions of traditional British folk favorites like "Maid That's Deep in Love" or "A Wager a Wager" are respectful of tradition but not bound to it, performed with an infectious enthusiasm quite similar to what the Young Tradition were doing around the same period.
The songs in this collection span a period of over four hundred years, yet they show a fundamental unity of style which illustrates how static a genre based in a tradition of apparently untrained music-making necessarily remained. Tudor court composers conjure up an Arcadian world of innocence, while later works often derive from indigenous folk-songs. Either way, the secular song packages and sanitises a dangerous world of rustic abandon for an audience more restrictively cultured.
This is an hour of Russian folk songs arranged for baritone and chorus by a variety of hands, including such master composers as Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Dmitri Shostakovich. The golden-voiced Dmitri Hvorostovsky provides the full-throated baritone solo, backed by the idiomatic voices of the St. Petersburg Chamber Choir. All of the music is performed unaccompanied but the lack of instruments does not preclude great variety as the mood of the songs changes from number to number.
In 2001 the U.K.-based Westside reissue label began releasing CD two-fers featuring '50s and '60s folk crooner Jimmie F. Rodgers. His albums for Roulette Records had been out of print for well over three decades. Rather than reissuing the discs chronologically, however, Westside chose a thematic approach. For some artists, such could easily be considered historic hara-kiri. However, this is not the case with Rodgers – as this initial installment amply demonstrates.
Not strictly a "greatest-hits" collection, Love Songs contains Elton John's most famous ballads, from "Your Song" and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" to "Can You Feel the Love Tonight." Featuring two new songs, including the single "You Can Make History (Young Again)," Love Songs is designed for the casual John fan who is familiar with his songs through adult contemporary radio…