Available on both cd (BEJOCD-22) and cassette (BEJO-22), Jack-in-the-Green is Magpie Lane's fourth album - or fifth, if you count our compilation, English Country Songs and Dances. From the choral grandeur of the opening May Song, A Rosebud in June and the Seeds of Love to the quiet beauty of the ballads Sheffield Park and Banks of the Lea and the lively dance sets Mother Goose and Quickstep at the Battle of Prague, this is a richly varied album. Jack-in-the-Green has a distinctly summery feel - due, no doubt, to the fact that much of the material is drawn from the songs and tunes played at Magpie Lane's Maytime concerts.
What the critics have said...
Voted by BBC Radio Suffolk one of the Ten Best Folk Albums of 1998!
'Well performed and programmed
and accessible without compromising what made the music special
in the first place.'
'Not content with fine
solo singing and instrumental ensembles, mummers' plays and dancing,
Oxford's favourite English supergroup have now included choral singing
in their repertoire, and to what great effect - they even manage
to reinvigorate The Seeds of Love...
an excellent range of material and good presentation... This should
appeal to the wider, non-folkie audience at which it is, quite laudably,
'Joanne Acty's voice
is clear and pleasant, well fitting the full harmonic setting of
The Seeds of Love, turning
more dramatic with Sheffield Park.
The full choral arrangement of band members on A
Rosebud In June and on various choruses impresses,
while solo voices on show include that of Andy Turner, whose reading
of Two Ravens is magnificent.
His rich-toned anglo also adorns the instrumental mix, which weaves
in and out of the songs and is given full rein on a stirring sets
of quicksteps, jigs and polkas.'
'I sometimes wonder what
a foreigner's (even your average Englishman's) idea is
of English music. I think if Magpie Lane travelled as ambassadors
of our music and song they really couldn't be bettered for a lively
interpretation which respects the tradition.'
Rod Harrington, Radio Somerset Sound
'The seven-strong band
are all talented musicians (fiddler Mat Green, for example, plays
with the popular ceilidh outfit The Woodpecker Band) with a love
of and feeling for the tradition, and this is palpable in the arrangements
of the sixteen tracks presented here. There's nothing 'flash'
here, no histrionics, no gimmicks, but instead a fine ensemble performance
which distils the essence of the songs and tunes, and whose shining
integrity is beautifully captured by engineer (and Woodpecker Band
member) Dave Eynstone. This is a little gem which deserves a much
'Here we have sixteen tracks
of English Songs and Tunes, all but two of them traditional, making
up fifty-four minutes of listening. The non-trads are the title
song, written by Martin Graebe, and "May Song" written
by Dave Webber, splendidly sung by Ian Giles (he should be more
The band have cast widely for material. I'm pleased to see they've gone to some field recordings - Fred "Pip" Whiting, Font Whatling, Enos White for instance, and they also credit Reg Hall as "an important post-war collector of folk tunes". He certainly is There are some classic songs, well sung, by good voices. The tunes, some familiar, some less so, go with a swing, and any lover of English tradition will be happy to browse among them. Whoever Beautiful Jo may be, she is inspiring an enclave of musicians to make good albums. The track record of this unusually-named label stand up well.'
Roy Harris, The Living Tradition
Copyright © 1996/2003 Beautiful Jo Records