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fri 11 mar 2022 19:00 

Interesting albums from the folk and roots music history, by Marius Roeting. Norma Waterson passed away on 30 January at the age of 82. She is one of the greats of British folk. Initially she formed the quartet The Watersons with brother Mike and sister Lal and cousin John Harrison. Sometimes with simple guitar accompaniment, but generally British folk songs were given inimitable vocal arrangements in a cappella form. The Watersons’ singing style was rural, crossed many a theoretical concept, but above all was powerful, infectious and convincing. They made three albums, after which they took a short break. Norma Waterson went to the Caribbean and worked there as a DJ. The Watersons made an initial restart with Harrison being replaced by newcomer Martin Carthy during the course of the project. This seasoned singer-guitarist was an enormous musical asset, but Norma and Martin also hit it off on a more personal level. In a period of irregularly appearing albums, the others -Carthy, Mike Waterson and Lal Waterson- threw themselves into side activities. Norma disappeared from view a little. At the beginning of the nineties, she was once again in the picture as a vocalist in the family trio Waterson:Carthy, along with husband Martin and their then still very young daughter Eliza. Norma proved not to have lost her talents just yet. On the contrary: her voice sounded more powerful and more mature than ever, with a good instrumental support. In 1996, she released her first album entirely under her own name, although her husband and daughter worked on all her ‘solo’ projects. Her debut was a total surprise. Norma Waterson, who is known as an interpreter of traditional – and with Waterson:Carthy also contemporary – folk songs, has produced an album full of original contemporary songs by well-known singer-songwriters, a single jazz standard, one traditional and one of her own compositions. Norma showed that she had more to offer. For several years she alternated albums with Waterson:Carthy and albums under her own name. Occasional musical family connections were recorded, such as the a cappella formation Blue Murder. The Waterdaughters and The Watersonsfamily. The last albums came sparingly, slowed down mainly by health problems in recent years. For example, at the end of the first decade of this century, she fell into a coma as a result of complications following an initially simple accident with her ankle. She had to relearn how to walk and speak, let alone how to sing. Still, recordings came out, in which Eliza became the great help and support. A final CD with the Gift Band was released in 2018. As a tribute in this DiscCover her debut album under her own name, a monument in British folk history.

The Watersons – Frost and fire – Topic 12TS136

1.      Here We Come A Wassailing (trad) 1.23

Norma & Lal Waterson – Mighty river of song – Topic TSFCD4002

2.      Meeting Is A Pleasure (trad) 2.19

Norma Waterson – Norma Waterson – Hannibal HNCD 1393

3.      Black Muddy River (Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter)

4:18 4.      St. Swithin’s Day (Billy Bragg) 2:53

5.      God Loves A Drunk (Richard Thompson) 4:38

6.      The Birds Will Still Be Singing (Declan ManManus) 2:52

7.      There Ain’t No Sweet Man (Who’s Worth The Salt Of My Tears) (Fred Fisher) 2:52

8.      Rags & Old Iron (N Curtis, O Brown) 4:16

9.      Pleasure & Pain (Ben Harper) 6:01

10.  Hard Times Heart (Norma Waterson) 3:17

11.  There Is A Fountain In Christ’s Blood (trad) 3:45

12.  Anna Dixie (Lal Waterson) 3:38

13.  Outside The Wall (Graeme Taylor, John B. Spencer) 6:13

Norma Waterson – Very thought of you – Hannibal HNCD 1430

14.  River Man (Nick Drake) 3:52

15.  Solid Air (John Martyn) 4:22

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