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Derek Gifford of Folk North West

reviews Songs of Witchcraft & Magic by Various Artists

This album has been compiled by and produced for The Museum of Witchcraft at Boscastle in Cornwall by WildGoose Studios. It contains some of the best songs which reflect the significant part that magic and witchcraft has played in our culture. They are also performed by some of the best interpreters of traditional song including Martin Carthy, Bob Fox and Stu Luckley, Frankie Armstrong and the late Peter Bellamy.
All the recordings, bar one, are taken from various albums by other record companies as well as WildGooses own.
The renditions of the performers need little comment other than to say they are all of a very high standard. The material is nicely varied in spite of the restrictions of a themed album.
I suppose with an album of such a high standard it might be considered churlish to pick out particular tracks but among my favourites are The Two Magicians from Bob Fox and Stu Luckley, Martin Carthys Willies Lady and Alvas arrangement of The Bells of Paradise which has a haunting drone accompaniment behind it. Hector Gilchrist and Liz Thompson also do a lovely version of The Selkie a good old song which has always been one of my favourites.
There is also a mysteriously labelled Bonus Track. This is The Chase Song performed by Graham King with his partner Kerriann.  Why? Who? you might ask. Well, Graham is the manager of the museum at Boscastle and both he and Kerriann are good singers so why not have a contribution from the boss too?!
The album is accompanied by a 36 page booklet containing the words of the songs and extensive research notes as well as some delightful illustrations. As with Dead Maids Land reviewed elsewhere in this edition of FNW this is a collectors item useful as a substantial reference work as well as being a reet good listen!
Its available from WildGoose or The Museum of Witchcraft, Boscastle whose web site is www.museumofwitchcraft.com or telephone  01840 25011.