Tuesday, 25 August 2015

"Dear Companion" by BONNIE DOBSON (2015 Ace/Big Beat CD Reissue - Duncan Cowell Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...




"...Dreaming On Some Sweet Repose..."

As simple and as plain a Folk album as you can get – Bonnie Dobson's 2nd album on Prestige Records was part of the American Folk boom in 1961 – and here it sees a beautiful New Remaster in 2015 by Ace Records of the UK. Here is the Maid of Constant Sorrow details...

UK released August 2015 – "Dear Companion" by BONNIE DOBSON on Ace/Big Beat CDWID 325 (Barcode 029667432528) plays out as follows (37:17 minutes):

1. Dear Companion
2. My Mother Chose My Husband
3. Girl Of Constant Sorrow
4. Vranyanka
5. Ben's Lullaby
6. The Bonnie Lass Of Kenmore Town
7. When I Was In My Prime
8. Ah! Si Mon Moine
9. Blues Jumped A Rabbit
10. Dink's Song
11. Vertsa Dievcha
12. The Cruel Mother
Tracks 1 to 12 are her 2nd US Folk LP "Dear Companion" – released 1961 in Stereo in the USA on Prestige International Records PR-INT 13031. The Stereo LP (only "Ben's Lullaby" is in Mono) was Produced by Rudy Van Gelder – Bonnie Dobson plays Guitar and Lead Vocals on all tracks, Hennie Kubik does Duet Vocals on "The Bonnie Lass Of Kenmore Town", Isabel Gardiner plays Flute and Arranged "Vranyanka" and "When I Was In My Prime", Peter Gardner plays Second Guitar on "My Mother Chose My Husband" and "Blues Jumped A Rabbit".

The 12-page booklet reproduces the albums original song-by-song details and adds on new liner notes by KRIS NEEDS which includes interviews Bonnie a paltry 50 years after the event - its informative and fun. Ace’s long-standing Audio Engineer DUNCAN COWELL has transferred the Van Gelder recordings with care and skill. There is a faint level of hiss – but only faint – and it's not been squashed out by Pro Tools to get it cleaner  - hence the recordings breath and sound startlingly clear - in your face for all the right reasons.

Her high-pitched vocals are the very epitome of American Folk in the early Sixties. This is purist stuff – girl, guitar and voice combining American Traditionals with Serbian, French-Canadian and Czech Folk songs while occasionally throwing in her own originals that compliment the bulk. Both “Dear Companion” and “My Mother Chose My Husband” are very sweet but her remaking of “Man Of Constant Sorrow” into a female “Girl Of Constant Sorrow” adds a seamless verse of her own at the end to great effect. The Acapella “Ben’s Lullaby” is her own compilation and was inspired by a friend’s 14-month old baby. The double-guitars greatly help the Bob Coltman ballad “The Bonnie Lass Of Kenmore” – a song about a man worshiping Jeanie as he drinks deep in a tavern. Isabel Gardner’s Flute and Arrangements help the lovely “When I Was In My Prime” and the Yugoslavian love song “Vranyanka”. The lyrics to “The Cruel Mother” tell of a disturbed unwed mum who kills both of her children and is visited by their ghosts who promise her a scorching time in the flames when she gets there (nice)...

Of a time and viewed by many as insufferable wailing – this kind of US Folk and Americana is an acquired taste for sure. But if you’re a fan – you will need this gorgeous-sounding reissue in your collection. And it’s mid-price too...


PS: see also my review for her 1960 debut album "She's Like A Swallow"...

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