Shirley & Dolly Collins - LOVE, DEATH, AND THE LADY
Love, Death, and The Lady is a spectacularly beautiful album by Shirley & Dolly Collins. if you come to this blog then you more than likely already no who Current 93 are (i'll post some by them later). essentially, the younger of the two Collins sisters (Shirley) was a huge influence on David Tibet (the vocalist and creative force behind Current 93), so much so that he had her sing the final (and most powerful track) on his album Black Ships Ate The Sky. Shirley doesn't sing anymore because she insists that her voice is no longer pretty (while it is most certainly scratchy, it is by no means "ugly"; to the contrary, her voice is more powerful on that song (the final cover of the classic hymn "Idumea") than on any other song she's ever been apart of.
the song in question, on youtube.
this album was way before all that. it was before Dolly died, and before Shirley began her own solo career. the two girls were a major force (so insists wikipedia and other internet sources) in the british folk revival of the 50s/60s. though there is, to some extent, a "folk revival" going on today it is by no means related to what Shirley and Dolly were doing. this particular blogger has a sincere hatred and loathing of all things "freak folk" or "indie folk." i.e. whispered vocals coming from neckbearded hipsters wearing skinny jeans, keffiyehs, and ironic make-up. the fact that they are being referred to as "folk" makes very little since, considering that they are, for the most part, just pop musicians with acoustic guitars and scratchy voices.
anyways, enough of that. onto Love, Death, and The Lady. this album is full of covers of traditional folk songs, in other words these are songs that men and women of times of yore could have enjoyed (and would have played). Dolly plays piano, Shirley sings and strums on her guitar, and they sound amazing together. my personal favorite track is "Young Girl Cut Down in Her Prime" (a classic piece sung in the british military about the death and funeral procession of a young soldier, bu in this version the sex of the character in the song has been reversed). the low harpsichord repeating throughout the track brings out the darker themes of the lyrics. much of the lyrics on the album are much darker than they would at first appear. they deal with death, the loss of a loved one, and (on the first track) the literal threat of the reaper, where the reaper says to the woman in the song: "my name is death, cannot you see? lords, dukes, and ladies bow down to me, and you are one of those branches three. and you, fair maid, must come with me".
all the same, this is not a depressing album. the music and Shirley's voice is upbeat enough to bring joy, and not darkness, to the listener's ears.
1. Death And The Lady
3. The Oxford Girl
4. Are You Going To Leave Me?
5. The Outlandish Knight
6. Go From My Window
7. Young Girl Cut Down In Her Prime
9. Salisbury Plain
10. Fair Maid of Islington
11. Six Dukes
12. Polly on the Shore
13. Plains of Waterloo