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11 May 2011

Shirley and Dolly Collins - For As Many As Will (Topic)

Dolly goes synth! Well, just a little bit. Though made with a small band, most of the cuts on the gramattically-confusing For As Many As Will are pretty stripped down, often with just Dolly on the flute-organ and some minimal cornett or recorder from the other guys (a band which again includes Barry Dransfield on fiddle, though he only appears on a few tracks (though he sings a bit, too)). Side one ends with a long medley of seven different songs (hailing apparently from 1728) and the flute-organ is the constant that holds down the segues. It's most evident how the addition of just a simple recorder can transform a vibe from cooky country-faire into total Defender of the Crown style. While side one starts with the beautiful 'Lancashire Lass', it ends with the medley, which starts to get a bit dense even with rests between it's four sections. The final piece of it is the instrumental 'Lumps of Pudding' (which sounds like the name of some bad prog-rock instrumental) and it's like a raw Third Ear Band tune, cutting through any sentimentality that might linger from the previous medley with sharp euphonium and shawm playing quite wonderfully with Dolly's synth. Her synth patches, of course, aren't exactly Dick Hyman -- they fit quite seamlessly with their sound. Side two beings with the flowing piano ballad 'Gilderoy', which has some rare double-tracked vocals by Shirley. Though over 100 years old now, it manages to stir something in me and that's without even really paying attention to the lyrics, which are surely tragic. Before you can get too used to it, it lurches into the courtly stomp of 'Rockley Firs', and then another circuitous instrumental jam called 'Sweet Jenny Jones', propelled throughout by euphonium farts. The instrumentalism continues through a German Xmas carol before getting back into a righteous Shirley delivery, 'The Moon Shines Bright'. Another medley takes us out, this one about the harvest, with the standout being the fiddle + gittern accompanied 'The Mistress's Health', where Dransfield knows exactly when to saw and when to let it lie. So another solid album closes - and the door closes Shirley Collins in these annals. After A Favourite Garland's somewhat confusing or incomplete liner notes, For As Many As Will overcompensates by listing every musician's instruments multiple times - at the top and bottom of the track listing, and then broken down on each track. Don't let it be said that you don't know who's playing gittern on this record!

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