Frost Bites

by Belshazzar's Feast

An unusual musical celebration of Christmas. The album contains songs, tunes and carols related to Christmas and originating from England, Europe and America.

Vocals, melodeon, fiddle, oboe, cor anglais and bass clarinet and percussion.



A traditional musical celebration of Christmas. Songs, tunes and carols related to Christmas, originating from England, Europe and America. Song notes provide information of provenance.

Belshazzar’s Feast are Paul Sartin (vocals, fiddle, oboe and cor anglais) and Paul Hutchinson (accordion). Both have classical and traditional musical backgrounds which are evident here and they have a fine reputation for entertaining as well as unusual and skillful arrangements.

Hutchinson formed the highly influential Push and Pull Dance Band and now spends much time on community concerts and teaching.

Sartin plays with Bellowhead and Faustus, teaches, conducts and dabbles in academia when bored (Oxford and Newcastle).

Guest musicians:

Pete Flood, percussion and

Brendan Kelly, bass clarinet and

Jennifer Bailey, voice.

1 Cherry Tree Carol/Yuleogy 
Trad / Paul Hutchinson 

In this Appalachian version of the ubiquitous song, the story of which is derived from St Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ birthday is given as 5th January, the date of Christmas day in the Old Style or Julien calendar between 1752 and 1799. Taken down from William Wooton at Hindman, Knott County, Kentucky by Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles and printed in their 80 English Folk Songs. Yuleogy is dedicated to a favourite and outstanding colleague. Probably. 

2 King Herod and the Cock/Parson's Farewell 
Trad 

From Mrs. Plumb of Armscote, Worcestershire, by way of Cecil Sharp, the Oxford Book of Carols and ensemble Magpie Lane. This is one episode of the ancient Carnal and the Crane ballad sequence. Parson’s Farewell is contained in John Playford’s The English Dancing Master, 1651. 

3 Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day 
Trad 

Collected in Cornwall by William Sandys in 1833, although apparently it can be found on broadsides and is thought to date back several centuries earlier. Published in Traces of Ancient Mystery (Richard McGrady, 1993), and in the Oxford Book of Carols. 

4 Masquerade Royal/As Joseph Was A-Walking 
Trad 

Based on the French song Je Suis Madelon Frique which evolved, via André Campra's L'Europa Galante (Paris, 1697), into the tune of a longways set dance. Found in The Dancing Master Volume II, 3rd edition (1718) and Walsh’s Compleat Country Dancing Master Volume II (1719). Walsh later renamed it Temple Barr. Passed on by contemporary English dancing master Andrew Shaw. Joseph is an adaptation of an old Breton carol, from the Second Book of Carols by Ralph Dunstan, published in 1925. 

5 Lonesome Scenes of Winter 
John Leahy 

A North American song from John Leahy of Douro, Ontario, collected by Edith Fowke in 1958, who issued it on the Leader label (Far Canadian Fields) and in the Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs. 

6 Gerald Road Mazurkas/Sans Day Carol 
Paul Hutchinson / Trad 

Composed to honour Val, a special resident of the aforementioned road situated in the leafy suburbs of West Worthing while Sans Day Carol is named for the village of St. Day, Cornwall, itself dedicated to the Breton St. Day or St. They who inspired a following in the county. The first three verses were sung by Thomas Beard in the village, the fourth an originally Cornish-language later addition (Oxford Book of Carols). 

7 One Cold Morning in December 
Trad 

Walter Pardon sang this at home in Knapton, Norfolk, on 24th June 1978. Mike Yates’ recording is featured on Volume 15 (As Me and My Love Sat Courting) of Topic’s Voice of the People series. 

8 Hampshire Mummers' Song 
Trad 

Sung by Godfrey Arkwright of Kingsclere, Hampshire in 1897 to Lucy Broadwood, this carol was in the repertoire of the Kingsclere Mummers, and appears to some extent to be comprised of ‘floating verses’. 
Cherry Tree Carol/Yuleogy
In this Appalachian version of the ubiquitous song
King Herod and the Cock/Parson's Farewell
From Mrs. Plumb of Armscote
Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day
Collected in Cornwall by William Sandys in 1833
Sample not available
Masquerade Royal/As Joseph Was A-Walking
Based on the French song Je Suis Madelon Frique which evolved
Sample not available
Lonesome Scenes of Winter
A North American song from John Leahy of Douro
Sample not available
Gerald Road Mazurkas/Sans Day Carol
Composed to honour Val
Sample not available
One Cold Morning in December
Walter Pardon sang this at home in Knapton
Sample not available
Hampshire Mummers' Song
Sung by Godfrey Arkwright of Kingsclere

Folk Northwest

Derek Gifford

Belshazzar's Feast are the well known pair, Paul Sartin (vocals, fiddle, oboe and cor anglais) and Paul Hutchinson (accordion),  who have a strong reputation for excellent musicianship. This album is no exception in that quarter.

As might be deduced from the title this CD is a seasonal one and the theme is a traditional musical celebration of Christmas. They kick off in fine style with an Appalachian version of The Cherry Tree Carol followed by a slow air called Yuleogy. Their lively version of King Herod and the Cock is followed again by another tune called Parson's Farewell taken from Playford's English Dancing Master.

Tomorrow Shall be my Dancing Day is a fairly well known traditional song collected in Cornwall by William Sandys and features very effective backing vocals from Jennifer Bailey. There follows three rather slow numbers which might have been better distributed within the album to break up the tempo. There's nothing wrong with any of them in terms of performance, of course, my criticism is merely on their programming. In fact, Lonesome Scenes of Winter is a particularly poignant song and would have stood out even more in between more up tempo tracks. However, the album is sufficiently interesting that you can easily dip into it as an alternative to listening to it from end to end anyway.

Things move on a pace with the lively Gerald Road Mazurkas composed by Paul H. followed by a version of the Sans Day Carol (The Holly Bears a Berry is another better known title). Walter Pardon's wonderfully amusing love song One Cold Morning in December is well performed by Paul S. at a steady enough pace to bring out the humour.

The album finishes with Hampshire Mummer's Song a carol collected by Lucy Broadwood.

Although potential purchasers of this CD might feel put off because there are 'only' eight tracks a quick look at the sleeve will show that half are in fact double tracks so you aren't being cheated at all! This comment may sound trite but I've actually seen and heard people comment on the 'lack of tracks' on some CDs without them actually delving further as to why.

The sleeve notes on all the songs and tunes are as erudite as you would expect giving the album academic as well as entertainment credence.

Good stuff from the lads.

the bright young folk review

Liz Osman

A new Belshazzar's Feast album? Great! It's got a Christmas theme? Interesting... I wonder what will be on it?

That certainly encapsulates mine and others' thoughts when news of 'Frost Bites' first came out. Renowned for accomplished and amusing live performances, what would the two Pauls do with Christmas material?

Perhaps rightly 'Frost Bites' contains little in the way of outright comedy/farce that some tracks on previous albums have. Instead, we are treated to a selection of lesser-known festive songs, although why they are not more popular is a mystery to me.

The album opens with 'Cherry Tree Carol/Yuleogy' the first of which, coincidentally, also appears on Kerfuffle's Christmas album. This a wonderful tale of Joseph getting in a huff with his betrothed. 'Parson's Farewell', as an accompaniment to 'King Herod and the Cock' struck me as a little strange, so used am I to hearing the tune in sessions but the two fit like the proverbial hand in glove.

Nor was that the only moment of recognition on the album. 'Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day' is familiar to me and to choral singers up and down the land. It is a song that I have learnt to dread for its fiendish difficulty. How wonderful then it was to hear not the Willcocks version so favoured, but a gorgeous waltzy tune, so in step with the words. I want the music for this arrangement right now!

'Masquerade Royal' invokes the still bleakness of midwinter, which Joseph comes striding out of in 'As Joseph Was A-Walking'. Belshazzar's Feast certainly know how to pair their tunes and songs together. It is also great to see a mummers' song make it onto the album, a fantastic meeting of the folk and Christian spheres. Closest to what might be called the 'Belshazzar' style is 'One Cold Morning in December', a Walter Pardon song of a besotted man. His lovesick nature is given a slightly mournful quality by Paul Sartin's superb voice.

This collection requires a slight realignment of what Christmas songs are. Nowhere do we find a Wizzard or Slade inspired glam rock track, and nowhere do we find trace of the over-played staples of 'Ding Dong Merrily', 'Jingle Bells' or 'Away in a Manger'. Instead, Belshazzar's Feast introduce us to the beginnings of a wider Christmas oevre, from the source singers and song collectors, from a December that was not quite so hackneyed and commercial. That's the Christmas I want, and this is the album I will be playing.


Shreds and Patches

Flos Headford

Paul Hutchinson is probably the most inventive and sensitive musician I have ever had the pleasure of working with. On this compilation of yule-related pieces, he (in his understated way) shines like a star on a frosty night. With his long-time buddy, Paul Sartin (he of the velvet voice, lyrical fiddle and haunting oboe), he proffers a feast for the discerning listener. Though using merely a little percussion (Pete Flood), bass clarinet (Brendan Kelly) and vocals (Jennifer Bailey) as reinforcement, they create paradoxically rich yet spare arrangements of mostly English traditional material. Paul H contributes two compositions, but traditions included are Breton, Appalachian and Canadian.

I have only a handful of favourite CDs that get pulled out each year as Christmas approaches. This album shall join that elite. Apart from its potential as a seasonal present, it's ideal to savour after a fine dinner, over a tot or two of rum. Perfect.

Mardles

Mary Humphreys

Well, the Christmas season is drawing nigh and out come the Christmas albums. Hooray! Here is one you can play all year round without feeling you have to apologise to your friends and relations. The musicianship is, as always from this duo, of the highest standard and the arrangements inventive and tasteful.

Paul Sartin's voice improves with every album he produces. A classically-trained singer, he has shed all those mannerisms I associate with cathedral choristers and comes across with a musical and direct voice well-suited to singing traditional song that is a delight to hear. Of course it goes without saying that his diction is faultless! Paul Hutchinson's accordion playing is so crisp and bouncy - you could be forgiven for thinking he was playing a melodeon at times!

We hear two of Paul H's compositions and well worth hearing they are too. We also hear a very local Hampshire Mummers' Song that has some "floating" verses that appear in the Cambridge May Song. Paul S is double-tracked a great deal of the time and on a couple of tracks is enhanced by Jenny Bailey's soprano. Pete Flood adds some beautifully understated percussion occasionally. The arrangements also incorporate Paul Sartin's fiddle, cor Anglais and oboe which, as always, are superbly played. Their contrapuntal accompaniment to Lonesome Scenes of Winter is both surprising and very pleasing.

The CD comprises a predominantly sombre and stately set of songs and tunes with the notable exception of the magnificent rendition of Walter Pardon's One Cold Morning in December where both the singing and the fiddle playing are exceptional. What a welcome change from the forced jollity of Jingle Bells and the like. Put this on after the Christmas pudding and give your ears a feast.

Spiral Earth

A Winter seasonal offering from Paul Hutchinson and Paul Sartin. As can be expected from these lovely blokes it wraps the listener in a warming cloak and takes them on a rollicking carolling journey through the frosty lanes and byways of history.

From Sartin's honeyed vocals to the entrancing accordion of Hutchinson this album is as comforting as a brandy on a Winters night, as evocative as the smell of woodsmoke and frost. The magic of it is that it is also as energising as a young lover, a truly sweet heart.

One to treasure for many years.

@@@@

R2

Dai Jeffries

Paul Sartin and Paul Hutchinson are quick off the mark to hit the Christmas market with this rather fine collection of traditional carols and songs plus two of Hutchinson's own tunes. There are only eight tracks but all bar one clock in at over five minutes, giving the chaps plenty of room to explore.

The majority of the carols come from the mystical and ritual: 'King Herod And The Cock', As Joseph Was A-Walking' and' Sans Day Carol'. Even the album title suggests the darker aspects of the season. If you want pure religion, look elsewhere.

The set opens with 'Cherry Tree Carol', which can get tedious, but this is an Appalachian version couched in somewhat secular language and Sartin delivers it wonderfully. It's coupled with 'Yuleogy', one of the original tunes and the title of their winter tour. That's the only joke except, perhaps, 'One Cold Morning In December'. Belshazzar's Feast have put aside the musical gags that are their stock in trade on stage and show what superb musicians they are.

It's tempting to ask how many Christmas records you actually need but I'd place this one very high on the list.

Around Kent Folk

Bob and Kathy Drage

This is very much a midwinter CD ? very traditional in flavour, some of the material reaches back to Playford and the English Civil War?'Parsons Farewell'. We find it interesting how the North American song 'Lonesome Scenes of Winter' is included along with 'One Cold Morning in December' which Walter Pardon sang at his home in Knapton. Paul Hutchinson's accordion on the Appalachian version of 'Cherry Tree Carol' gives it added drama. Also included 'King Herod & the Cock', 'As Joseph was a Walking', 'Sans Day Carol' and 'Hampshire Mummers Song'. Paul Sartin is the vocalist and plays oboe, cor anglais and violin. Guest musicians include Pete Flood percussion and Brendan Kelly bass clarinet.

The CD has the power to evoke the feelings of winter? listen by the fireside with a nice glass of mulled wine.

Taplas

Imogem ORourke

WITH the season-to-be-jolly only weeks away, many of us find ourselves engaged in seasonal nostalgic reflection. This festive selection of living historical snapshots will transport you yet further into the past with a delicious wintry chill. The origins of this sacred and secular mixture are cited in detail on the sleeve notes.

In keeping with this air of contemplation, this is more of an album for close listening than for stomping one's feet to, though the occasional sprightlier songs do bring a palpable lift. Paul Sartin's melodic embellishment is always a joy. He has a particular knack for both blending in and shining through. His tone and intonation are consistently spot on.

Although the arrangements are a little unadventurous, the focal point of the narrative sings out from a relatively uncluttered musical environment. Yule love it!

EDS

Andy Turner

I'm a sucker for a Christmas album. Rousing choruses, massed vocals, jolly tunes� They're not entirely absent here, but neither are they to the fore. The overall feeling is dignified, restrained, sombre even. Opener the 'Cherry Tree Carol' has a major key tune � it could be played as a waltz, but is sung quite slowly over sustained, sometimes rather menacing, chords then segues into 'Yuleogy', a Paul Hutchinson instrumental of glacial beauty. Similarly on the closing track, the 'Hampshire Mummer's Song', they don't play up the potentially rollicking tune, or the feel-good spirit of lines such as 'Then bring us some of your Christmas ale/And likewise your Christmas beer', emphasising instead the spirit of the succeeding couplet 'For when another Christmas comes/We may not all be here'. The resulting arrangement � one of several to feature Pete Flood's percussion � is entirely effective. In fact the only track which doesn't really work for me is Walter Pardon's 'One Cold Morning in December'. I can imagine that live the two Pauls wring plenty of humour out of this song, but on CD it fails to sparkle.

It goes without saying that the duo's playing is exemplary throughout. But since �unusually for them � songs outnumber tunes, it is worth commending Paul Sartin's singing. On early Belshazzar's albums I felt that, after years of classical training, he was still working out how to tackle traditional songs. He's discovered the knack now � not by adopting artificial folky mannerisms, but by singing very naturally. In fact, his singing and speaking voice recognisably belong to the same person �always a plus in my book.

Finally, I was surprised to see, on opening the CD cover, that my name appeared in the list of thanks. Let me assure any cynics that this wasn't thanks in advance for a positive review; my only contribution was to provide them with the source of 'King Herod and the Cock'. And a fine job they've made of it.

Moors Magazine Netherlands

Holly Moors

On the one hand, I have a weakness for old fashioned British folk music, on the other hand, I have a pet hate of Chrsitmassy songs and the huge flood of Christmas-and December CDs, so that I usually let them pass me by. This slipped between the cracks to be honest because I did not take it to be a CD for "the holiday season".

I fell, above all, for the timeless quality of the music of the duo Belshazzar's Feast. Paul Hutchinson plays accordion, Paul Sartin sings (and his voice is in some hidden way totally timeless), and plays the Oboe, "cor anglais" and the violin. Old-fashioned folk, but played so well that the pure quality, and its power of persuasion ensure that this music is really for all times.

Beautiful.

The Guardian

Robin Denselow

The new British folk movement has done well when it comes to that dreaded seasonal offering, the Christmas album. So those seeking an alternative to Andrea Bocelli's pop-classical bestseller My Christmas, or even to Dylan's croaking treatment of Hark the Herald Angels Sing on his patchy Christmas in the Heart, should look closer to home. Kate Rusby has been the best so far with Sweet Bells (which is rereleased this Christmas) but this new set from Belshazzar's Feast is also worth checking out. The band �consists of two strong instrumentalists, with Paul Hutchinson playing accordion and Paul Sartin (best-known for his work with Bellowhead) adding violin, oboe, cor anglais and sturdy, no-�nonsense vocals. Their material is �impressively varied, from an 18th-�century Appalachian version of Cherry Tree Carol (in which Jesus is born on January 5, following the Julian calendar) to a courtly dance piece from France, and carols from across Britain. The duo are famed for their on-stage humour, but here it's the quality of their playing that stands out.