Thursday, 19 January 2017

"She's Like A Swallow" by BONNIE DOBSON (2014 Big Beat CD Reissue - Nick Robbins Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...



"...The River That Never Runs Dry..." 

This mid-priced CD reissue from Ace’s subsidiary label Big Beat sees Bonnie Dobson’s rare US Folk debut album from 1960 remastered for the first time and reissued with it’s original track-by-track liner notes and a new interview with Bonnie conducted in 2014. Here are the wild mountain thyme details...

UK released December 2014 – "She's Like A Swallow And Other Folk Songs" by BONNIE DOBSON on Ace/Big Beat CDWID 324 (Barcode 029667432429) is a straightforward CD transfer and Remaster of her 1960 US album on Prestige International 13021 in Mono (46:09 minutes):

1. The Cruel War Is Raging
2. She’s Like A Swallow
3. The Silkie Of Sule Skerry
4. Across The Blue Mountain
5. The Prickle Holly Bush
6. Mistress Bond
7. Envoyons De L’Avant
8. Will Ye Go Laddie Go [Side 2]
9. Frankie Slide
10. Monsieur Le Cure
11. The Jam At Gerry’s Rock
12. The First Time
13. The Road To Grandmere
14. The Old Maid’s Lament

The 12-page booklet contains the original vinyl album’s track-by-track annotation on the history of the songs and a new interview with Bonnie on recording in Rudy Van Gelder’s then state-of-the-art studio at Englewood Cliffs in New Jersey (he was most closely associated with Blue Note). The album was apparently done in only 4 hours with just Bonnie and Acoustic Guitar – mostly it has to be said first takes. The audio remaster (in Mono) has been done by NICK ROBBINS at London’s Sound Mastering and is very clear. Yet despite Van Gelder’s magical name associated with the production – I’d have to say that the audio is good rather great – clear for sure – but the recordings sound rushed and a little fuzzy at times especially in the air around the guitar.

It’s an album of its time – Folk Traditionals sung by an earnest voice – history and heartbreak (“The Cruel War Is Raging” and “The Old Maid’s Lament”). I’d be the first to admit that its twee lone guitar/high voice Folk absolutely won’t be everyone’s cup of Darjeeling in 2015 - but for fans the remaster does highlight the clarity of her striking voice. Apart from the famous title track (lyrics from it title this review) - the best-known other tune here is probably “Will You Go Laddie Go” more commonly known as “Wild Mountain Thyme” – a Traditional brought to the USA by the McPeake Family of Belfast. Based on words by the Scottish Poet Robert Tannahill – the gorgeous air has been covered by many since the Fifties – Judy Collins and The Byrds in the Sixties – and faves of mine The Silencers in the Nineties and Kate Rusby in the Naughties. 

Note for everyone for sure – but fans will appreciate the presentation and the remaster...

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