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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2002
On this recording, the Baltimore Consort and the Merry Companions are full of fun, both blatant and tongue-in-cheek. Soprano Custer La Rue and the instrumentalists of the Consort are joined by a quartet of classical male singers (Peter Becker, Alexander Blachly, Paul Shipper and James Weaver) with quite a theatrical sense of humor. The two groups take turns presenting ribald tavern songs of merry old England, interspersed by light, catchy instrumentals listed in the credits as the "Prelewd", the "Interlewd" and a "Fresh Ayre". Drinking, sex and other bodily functions are both celebrated and ridiculed in songs that are cleverly worded and enthusiastically sung, and in at least one case, accompanied by a mysterious instrument (reminiscent of P.D.Q. Bach) called a "fartophone". Especially amusing are the "catches" or rounds, and the new meanings that result from the staggering of words when several different verses are all sung together. It sounds silly, and is silly, but that's the point of it all--celebrating the "earthier flavor" of life 17th and 18th century England. My copy came with a parental advisory sticker stuck fast to the case, but my mother didn't seem overly concerned, and in fact enjoyed it too when I played it for her! For more fun Renaissance vocals, both salacious and serious, try "All At Once Well Met: English Madrigals" by the King's Singers, and "The King's Singers' Madrigal History Tour: Italy, England, France, Spain, Germany" by the King's Singers and the Consort of Musicke.
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on December 18, 2001
This is a great collection of songs,mostly taken from d'Urfey's "Pills to purge melancholy", along with some catches from Purcell etc included. It's hard to find the ideal recording of this sort of ribald stuff- it seems each recording has some flaws.
The Baltimore consort, with Custer La Rue as chief vocal have done an incredible job with this music. I never get tired of her lovely voice, and the life she brings to these songs. The instrumentals are fabulous (mixed consort settings on period instruments). Two of the best numbers are "cold and raw the wind did blow"...and "my thing is my own"- these typify the wonderful momentum and gorgeous musical phrasing they bring to the music- five stars for them.
Unfortunately, the album includes songs from a group of male vocalists who gathered together as "the merry companions". What a huge mistake. The inside of the program notes shows them gathered around some tankards of ale. I think they must have spent too much time drinking and no time at all thinking (or rehearsing). The vocals are brash and not well-tuned and for such lively content, they are sometimes sluggish too. They went for the "rugged tavern" sound at the expense of the music. If I were at a tavern or renaissance faire, and heard some drunken louts singing these catches, I'd love it- what wonderful fun! But this is a CD that I paid to listen to, and they should have rehearsed. I don't like to pay for this kind of impromptu junk- if D'Urfey and Purcell bothered to write it down and set it to notes, the performers should get it right and it should sound like music. Often they have chosen to set these in too low a register, or without instrumentals that might help lift up the sluggish character.
In the end, this is a great car CD- where I can easily forward past the bad songs and repeat the good ones, and of course I can make sure not to offend anybody....
By the way, for those interested in more songs like these,get "The Catch Book : 153 Catches Including the Complete: Catches of Henry Purcell, edited by Paul Hillier. Then the only problem is finding the other people to sing them with you!
A hard to find, but infinitely enjoyable alternative recording is "Pills to purge melancholy: Low & Lusty-Songs From 17th C" recorded by the city waites. The instrumentals are more a little rough, but very well done -just completely different from baltimore consort. On this album, the male vocals are best, while the soprano is sometimes is a bit harsh. The merry companions would have done well to listen to this before making their recording.
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on November 26, 2001
This style of music has always appealed to me. Having had the opportunity to perform in various groups that specialized in the music of this period, I thought that I had a pretty good grasp of the vocal music of the time. When I used to think of the music of the Elizabethan age the feeling I had of it was that it was beautiful, but prudish. After listening to this CD, I can see that I was woefully misinformed.
The melodies of the songs are delightful weavings of instraments and the human voice. The real joy of the CD, however, is in the lyrics. The lyrics revel in drinking, flatulence and wanton carnality while somehow managing not to sound crude. In many of the songs such as the "Irish Jig" and "My Man John" I could not help but laugh aloud. Although the focus of this CD is on bawdy songs, there are also many fine instrumental bits and some songs that simply revel in the more simple pleasures of life.
All toll, this CD is an eye opening, funny and entertaining work that is well worth owning.
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on August 1, 2001
From the opening instrumental this CD fills the listener's mind with images of sunny open fields, a busy Medieval or Renaissance city, or better yet, a popular corner pub complete with a burly barkeep and a saucy barmaid.
I found myself humming these catchy melodies over and over, and at first listening the songs are very melodious and beautiful...and then you start to understand the words the performers are singing. This CD is titled "Bawdy" for a reason.
The songs range from those that are true drinking songs such as "'Tis women makes us love. 'Tis love that makes us sad. 'Tis sad that makes us drink. And drinking makes us mad!" But there are a few on the other end of the spectrum, full of pure bawdiness. The most forthcoming, in my opinion, is My Man John, a story in song about a maid named Mary who broke the handle of her hair broom, but man John had a replacement for her. "My man John had a thing that was long. My maid Mary had a thing that was hairy." It only progresses from there and I'll let your imagination fill in the rest, or better yet, purchase this CD and find out! In truth there is nothing bad about there lyrics unless taken out of context, which one can't hope to avoid.
I highly recommend The Art of Bawdy Song for all of those interested in early music, drinking songs, or just looking for something different. You won't be disappointed.
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on April 20, 2001
. . .but a really fun item nonetheless!
This charming CD is filled with beautiful music from the Elizabethan Age. Then, like now, people got together in taverns and sang songs which couldn't be appropriately sung at other times and places. The only difference between then and now, is that back then -- this was done in multi-part harmony!
The songs on this album range from mild to quite ribald -- hence the parental warning, but compared to much of what passes for "music" in today's culture, even the most bawdy song on this album is relatively tame.
There is a nice mixture of songs and styles (not all are bawdy -- some deal with the pleasures of good wine and good tobacco, and a few are simply scatological) and frequent interludes of instrumental music. In a couple of instances, the soprano sings a ballad which (to my view) should have been sung by a tenor or baritone. But that's a matter of personal taste, and does not impact the overall value of this album
Again, not for all tastes -- but a definite "must have" for those who love music of this era.
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on December 20, 2000
This album, "The Art of the Bawdy Song," is more in line with typical tavern music of the Renaissance. Double entendre and hocket songs are only a few of the styles rendered here, along with blatently sordid subject matter certainly not suitable for children or the quick-to-blush. The court song "Cold and Raw" and the more suggestive "My Thing is My Own" are nice changes from much of the album, as the songs end up being quite moral in their messages.
The music here is fun, even if the content is a bit coarse for the typical listener. The album's content is not likely to rouse your more prurient interests, which might make some think the album "tame." And yet... the music is well worth listening to, if for no other reason than its rarity and low-class historical (musicological?) place. I doubt that you'll hear most of what is on this album, unless you attend a Renaissance Fair or some such gathering. And even then... . The Baltimore Consort, again, uses its musical finesse to delight the listener -- yes, even with as earthy a subject as appears here.
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on February 6, 2000
I'm delighted to find this recording of some songs I learned many years ago but never, for obvious reasons, hear performed. Most of them are pretty tame by today's standards, but the CD still got a parental advisory, which must have amused the artists. I doubt if there are many classical CDs with that sticker.
It's also nice to know that bawdy songs can have a little sophistication to them -- they're not all like "Barnacle Bill." And three cheers for the Baltimore Consort, too, which I've heard on a couple of other CDs and enjoyed. This recording gives the feeling of a bunch of high-spirited musicians gathered in the back room after hours, singing and playing to amuse themselves -- which is the best kind of concert!
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on November 15, 1998
I had hoped this CD would be filled with high spirited songs of mead-drinking debauchery, unfortunately, the songs they chose to record were a little too somber for my taste. Additionally, on some selections a baratone was used where a higher voice may have helped the mood. And, on a final note of nitpicking, some of the spoken word portions should have been done in a Elizabethan accent, not an American one. All in all, a very interesting CD, with some good music, but not quite what I had in mind.
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on July 30, 2001
The first (and maybe the only) record I have that has a sticker that says "parental advisory explicit lyrics". Though not everyone will enjoy loud belching sounds, I think that this is one of the best renaissance records you can buy.
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on July 24, 2011
This is a good, fun recording of early music. I bought this copy to replace the one I lost in the divorce. Couldn't do without it.
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