Jack B. Merry reviews Antonia Fraser's Faith and Treason: The Story of The Gunpowder Plot. Jack notes "The tangled web of politics, religion, and personalities that enmeshed far too many on that fateful night of the Fifth of November is a story worth knowing so read Faith and Treason on a cold winter's night when you can give it the full attention it deserves."
Brendan Foreman has updated his article The Essential Wolfstone with his reviews of their latest Green Linnet releases: The Half Tail and Pick of the Litter, The Best of Wolfstone 1991-1996. Runrig and Wolfstone were the Scottish rock 'n' reel bands, standing tall above all others. Another great band was Lindisfarne: Duke Egbert has a superb review of their CD Lindisfarne: Live At The Cambridge Folk Festival.
L. G. Burnett has turned in a damn fine review of the re-released Wizard of Oz. The Wizard of Oz is a novel so deeply and intrinsically linked to the populist beliefs of its writer L. Frank Baum that entire Ph.D. dissertations have been written concerning its meaning! But forget all that and just go see it for the sheer pleasure of being young again . . . and being scared witless again!
Do check out the new review by Rachael Rodgers of Pamela Dean's Juniper, Gentian & Rosemary. Richard Dansky has completed his detailed review of Dean's Tam Lin. Jayme Lynn Blaschke has a hot off the presses review of the new Charles de Lint short story collection Moonlight and Vines which features many of the characters that fans of his Newford-based fiction have come to know and love. And Rowan Inish offers us a review of Manly Wade Wellman's After Dark, a short but tasty Silver John novel.
Chuck Lipsig has review of the new Steeleye Span CD Horkstow Grange. Are they as good as with Maddy? Or should they just throw their instruments in the trash? Suffice it to say that Chuck believes this version of Steeleye Span is very, very good!
Boiled in Lead recently celebrated fifteen years of world beat/rock 'n' reel/celtic fusion music with the release of Alloy, a retrospective that features many new versions of favorite cuts and unreleased live versions. Yvonne Carts-Powell thinks that the new album from Boiled in Lead is perfect as an introduction to the band. Sol Foster's detailed review of the two CD Alloy2 release is just as positive.
The dualities of good v. evil, light v. dark, male v. female . . . All are ancient, deeply held aspects of the Winter/Summer folklore in Northern cultures where there is a true difference between the Winter and Summer seasons. Jo Morrison has written an insightful review of The Wild Hunt, a Jane Yolen novel that makes our Annual Staff List of Great Books & Music. The Wild Hunt (also known as the Yule Host in Iceland, Gabble Rachaets, Gabriel's Hounds, the Yeth hounds, the Raging Host or Furious Host in Germany, and the Chasse Maccabei, Chasse Artu, or Mesnie Hellequin in France) is generally expressed as a spectral leader and his men, usually accompianed by baying hounds, and with horns wildly blowing, who ride through the air or gallop madly through deep woods, is common to many parts of the English Isles, France, and other parts of Northern Europe. Charles de Lint said in his F&SF review of this novel that "I find it particularly gratifying that a writer of Yolen's talents and stature is still willing to experiment -- though I shouldn't be surprised. Her willingness to push the boundaries, even at this point in her career when one might assume she doesn't have to, proves both her talent and the fact that her stature has been earned."
Chris Woods has just given Folk Tales his candid appraisal of The Incredible String Band, Gently Tender, a discography by Ken Brooks that any fan of the Incredible String Band should own. Chris notes that he's still waiting for the definitive biography of the Incredible String Band . .&nbs;. Ian Walden has given us a detailed review of the Spirit of the Tradition concert at Anvil Theatre, Basingstoke, England on the 27th of November which included John Renbourne & Jacqui McShee of Pentangle, Kathryn Tickell (on Northumbrian pipes & fiddle), and Maddy Prior & Friends. It sounds like it was a truly magical evening! Judith Gennett's report from Stockholm on WOMEX 1998is now available for your reading pleasure. If you are at all interested in world music, this is required reading!
Jo Morrison has given us a detailed joint review of The Rough Guide to English Roots Music and the tune book/biography for Billy Pigg: The Border Minstrel. As she notes: "One such musician, Billy Pigg, deserves further study. Billy Pigg played the pipes for the love of it, not for fame or fortune, and that seems to be what made him such a great success. His fiery speed and innovative style has greatly shaped the nature of Northumbrian piping today. The recent publication of Billy Pigg: The Border Minstrel gives an excellent opportunity to learn about the personality behind the greatest influence on Northumbrian piping." So why a joint review? 'Tis because the superb Northumbrian piping of Billy Pigg is featured on The Rough Guide CD!
Pamela Murray Winters has turned in a review that very convincingly refutes my contention that The Cropredy Box, the boxed set of CDs for the 1997 Fairport Convention festival in Cropredy, was only for diehard fans. If you like Fairport at all, go buy this! Hmmm . . . Oh, did I mention Sol Foster's detailed analysis of Alloy2, the two disc Boiled in Lead set? Sol Foster notes "with at least an hour of new songs and some great versions of old ones, the set is a must have for the serious BiL fan." And check out Yvonne Carts-Powell's review of Alloy1.
If you're in the mood for a good Christmas tale, check out Richard Dansky's review of James Goldman's The Lion in Winter. As Dansky notes "For those who haven't seen the filmed version of the play (and shame on you if you haven't, stop reading right now and go watch the bloody thing), The Lion In Winter details one rather dysfunctional family's Christmas gathering in France. Of course, the family is that of Henry II of England (including Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionhearted and the future King John, among others), the invited guest is Philip Capet of France, and the holiday gathering takes place at Henry's castle of Chinon. No one's mind is on presents; rather, everyone is thinking of provinces -who controls them, who gives up which in exchange for which concession, and so on. A merrier holiday gathering could hardly be imagined." And we note with great sadness that James Goldman last week passed away at the age of seventy-one. He was also the author of Myself As Witness (a fictional recounting of the rule of King John, son of Henry and Eleanor, which he wrote largely because he thought the King John in The Lion In Winter was an unfair portrayal of the actual person), and Robin and Marian, a telling of the last days of Robin Hood. The latter was made into a superb film with Sean Connery as an aging and weary Robin.
Chuck Lipsig has written a detailed examination of Jack Zipes's Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales, Children, and the Culture Industry. If one is concerned about the commodification of folk culture, this book is a must read. One need not agree with Jack Zipes in order to understand his concern over what Disney et al are doing to our culture. Chuck has also scribbled a review of Jack Zipes' new book When Dreams Came True: Classical Fairy Tales and Their Tradition.
Be sure to check out Jo Morrison's review of Troubadour's Storybag, a delightful and instructive collection of tales well told, each with a music theme!
Barbara Ketcham Wheaton's Savoring the Past: The French Kitchen and Table from 1300 to 1789 is reviewed by Jack B. Merry who says this history of French cooking "will be a tasty enhancement to your library. And a useful addition to your kitchen!" Jack also reviews Patricia Lysaght's The Banshee: The Irish Death Messenger, a cracking good tale of what Banshees are and the role they play in Irish culture. Jack B. Merry offers us his review of the great oral epic Beowulf. As he notes in his review "gather a group of friends, get some good ale, and sit around the fire on a cold winter's night taking turns telling the entire tale on a dark winter's night. You may well wake with a headache (as Beowulf and his men did on many a morning) but you'll appreciate the sheer joy of the Beowulf saga."
Archived 20:59 PDT July 10th, 2006 LLS