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.
This double CD presents a wide view of the repertory of a member of the last generation of English country singers, and what a broad repertory it is!
Quite a few of the songs I've heard before. I spent many an evening listening to her in the Old Swan in Cheltenham, where we had a regular singaround, and The Eagle in Bampton on Whit weekends. I thought then, and I'm sure now, that Freda had a fair idea of what we liked - Freda was no fool, she knew her audience.
So here's a collection of the songs I heard then, the 'folksongs' and the comic ones. Then there are a number of Victorian sentimental ballads, which were very popular with her generation of Traditional singers. Several of the Suffolk singers I knew sang these, and Johnny Doughty would sing them one after the other for as long as you cared to listen. There are also songs from the Great War, such as What did you do in the Great War, Daddy? which I've heard before, but can't remember who sang it. There's also the RHA, a First World War adaptation of an older song, which is the song that Dublin in the Green is a parody of. On top of this there are kids songs, monologues, and a very fine parody of If Those Lips Could Only Speak.
As always with Musical Traditions, there are extensive notes including all the words, Roud numbers, and some great photographs. One surprise to me is the lack of I Pity Myself I Do, which she sang often enough for me to learn by listening! If you have any interest in twentieth century Country singing, then this is a must. To hear that warm West Oxfordshire voice again warms the cockles of my heart!
Thanks Rod and Danny, you've done it again!
According to Roud's Folksong Index, no one ever recorded Freda singing I Pity Myself I Do - Ed.
Bernie Cherry - 4.5.18
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