Strange Folk (compiliation week)
Any compilation that features the song from the maypole scene in The Wicker Man is going to have something going for it.
Strange Folk is a collection of folk songs, some from the 1960s and 1970s, and others more recent, which share a dark or decidedly unusual edge. The 19 tracks hereon range from the eerie, in Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man’s ‘Mysteries’, to the unintentionally terrifying with the Incredible String Band’s masterclass in cat-strangling, tuneless dirgemaking ‘Saturday Maybe’.
But don’t let the inclusion of those enemies of the carried note put you off – skip buttons could well have been invented with these forte-free fiends in mind – as Strange Folk manages to erase any bad Incredible String-based experiences with some shrewdly chosen musical remedies.
Magnet’s ‘Maypole’, the pagan fertility rite taken from 1973′s aforementioned The Wicker Man, is fittingly bizarre and, as anybody who’s seen the film will already know, its jauntiness belies a murky undercurrent. Of the other older stuff, Donovan’s ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’, with words provided by the W.B. Yeats poem of the same name, is a spectral treat, while Forest’s ‘Fading Light’ and Tyrannosaurus Rex’s ‘Great Horse’ also stand out.
From the crop of newer material, the opener ‘Mysteries’, Eighteenth Day of May’s floral ‘The Highest Tree’, and Vashti Bunyan’s haunting ‘Here Before’ take pride of place in the winner’s enclosure. Only Joanna Newsom’s ‘Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie’ lets the modern intake down, approaching ISB levels of earache inducement with its paint-stripper caterwauling.
Undoubtedly the highlight of Strange Folk is Pentangle’s 1969 tale of devilish betrayal, ‘House Carpenter‘, resplendent in all its sitar-laced, psychedelic finery.
If the ethereal delights of the darker reaches of folk, and the many forms it manifests, are your particular bag, then you could do a lot worse than seeking out a copy of this particular collection.
Strange Folk is released on Albion Records and available to buy from Amazon.co.uk
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