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Sweet England

Shirley Collins: Sweet England (Argo RG 150)

Sweet England
A Collection of Love Songs and Ballads From Southern England
Shirley Collins

Argo Records RG 150 (LP, UK, 1959)
See for Miles SEE212 (LP, UK, 1987)

Shirley Collins: Sweet England (See for Miles SEE212)
Shirley Collins: Sweet England (Topic TSCD815)

Topic Records TSCD815 (CD, UK, 1999)
Fledg’ling Records FLED 3080 (CD, UK, 25 October 2010)

Shirley Collins: Sweet England (Fledg’ling FLED 3080)

Recorded by Alan Lomax and Peter Kennedy in Peter Kennedy’s house in Belsize Park, London, in 1958 in a two-day session. The LP False True Lovers on Folkways Records is from the same recording sessions.

See also folkcatalogue’s blog on Sweet England.


Shirley Collins: vocals, 5-string banjo;
John Hasted: 5-string banjo;
Ralph Rinzler: guitar;
Guy Carawan: guitar


Side 1

  1. Sweet England (Roud 272; G/D 4:831) (2.32)
  2. Hares on the Mountain (Roud 329) (1.28)
  3. Hori-Horo (1.34)
  4. The Bonny Irish Boy (Roud 565; Laws P26; G/D 6:1080; Henry H168) (1.28)
  5. The Tailor and the Mouse (Roud 16577) (1.53)
  6. The Lady and the Swine (Roud 15530) (1.26)
  7. Turpin Hero (Roud 621; Laws L10) (2.29)
  8. The Cuckoo (Roud 413; G/D 6:1157; Henry H479) (1.39)
  9. The Bonny Labouring Boy (Roud 1162; Laws M14; Henry H576) (4.11)
  10. The Cherry Tree Carol (Roud 453; Child 54; G/D 2:327) (3.37)

Side 2

  1. Sweet William (Roud 273; Laws K12; G/D 6:1245) (3.15)
  2. Omie Wise (Roud 447; Laws F4) (3.50)
  3. Blackbirds and Thrushes (Roud 12657) (1.32)
  4. A Keeper Went Hunting (Roud 1519) (1.41)
  5. Polly Vaughan (Roud 166; Laws O36; Henry H114) (2.33)
  6. Pretty Saro (Roud 417) (1.57)
  7. Barbara Allen (Roud 54; Child 84; G/D 6:1193; Henry H236) (3.12)
  8. Charlie (Roud 729; G/D 1:135) (2.32)

All track trad. arr. Shirley Collins, pub. Cacophony Music except
Track 3 words Hugh S. Robertson, tune Andrew Sinclair, pub. Robertson Publications;
Track 10 tune composed and trad. arr. Shirley Collins, pub. Cacophony Music


This review is from Gramophone, March 1960:

Sweet England, eighteen love songs and ballads “from Southern England” sung by Shirley Collins (Argo LP RG150), carries a sleeve-note in which Alan Lomax predicts that within ten years Miss Collins could be a major artist. He may be right, but at the moment I should like to hear more assurance and more variety in her singing. It is right and proper for a folk singer to sound anonymous, but that is hardly the same thing as lacking presence. Nevertheless, this is a useful collection of songs, including such delightful items as The Cuckoo and The Bonny Labouring Boy. It seems a little odd, though, to find an Irish, a New Zealand and three American songs in the line-up, even if one of the American items—Omie Wise, a mountain murder ballad—is given the dead-pan, faintly sardonic treatment it demands. Purists may also object to the accompanying banjos and guitars, which add an extra transatlantic flavour to the music. Similar criticisms can be levelled at The Foggy Dew (Collector JEB3), on which—in addition to the title-song—Miss Collins sings Brigg Fair, The Berkshire Tragedy and Geordie. Fuzzy recording doesn’t help to improve matters.