Shirley Collins was a pivotal figure in the English folk revival movement.
Collins' pure voice lent itself to interpret old English songs in
a mesmerizing tone, as proven by her early albums
Sweet England (Argo, 1959) and
False True Lovers (Folkways, 1960), and countless EPs.
Her third full-length album,
Folk Roots New Routes (Decca, 1964),
a collaboration with guitarist Davy Graham,
marked a bold departure for the
folk movement, as Collins embraced jazz.
Accompanied by sister Dolly on piano (as opposed to the guitar, the instrument
of choice at the time), Shirley Collins returned to traditional
material on The Sweet Primeroses (Topic, 1967), trying to capitalize
on the boom of the folk revival.
However, her creative peak was reached with
The Power Of The True Love Knot (Polydor, 1968), that featured
Mike Heron and Robin Williamson of the Incredible String Band,
and with the concept album Anthems In Eden (Harvest, 1969).
The latter was arranged in an almost orchestral fashion, but using ancient
After Love Death & The Lady (Harvest, 1970), whose songs sound like
classical leaders, Collins put together the Albion Country Band by assembling
25 of the most respected folk-rock musicians of the time, and released
No Roses (Pegasus, 1971).
That experience was continued on the vastly inferior
The Prospect Before Us (1977), credited to the Albion Dance Band.
Shirley Collins closed her career with the relatively conventional collections
of A Favourite Garland (Deram, 1974),
Adieu To Old England (Topic, 1975),
Amaranth (Harvest, 1976).
For As Many As Will (Topic, 1978) was credited to both sisters.
Shirley was tired of the music business and soon retired, while Dolly Collins
became a classical composer.
The Albion Band still recorded
Rise Up Like The Sun (Charisma, 1978) and
Lark Rise To Candleford (Charisma, 1979)
and will continue to exist in the 1990s.
Fountain Of Snow (World Serpent, 1992) collects songs recorded for
the Topic label.
Within Sound is a 4-cd set compilation.
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