Lal & Mike Waterson
Ignored then adored 1972 folk classic gets proper reissue with bonus disc of arresting demo versions.
The stuff of legend, more heard about than heard, Bright Phoebus turns out to thoroughly deserve its reputation as a milestone in British folk rock. It was derided at the time by purists who preferred The Watersons singing trad/arr stuff without, gasp, rock instruments. Openminded listeners who caught it before it was quickly deleted discovered something truly startling in Lal’s original writing and Mike and Lal’s supernatural voices. High calibre songs, Scarecrow, Fine Horseman, Never The Same and Child Among The Weeds, are compressed jewels of imagery and melody, sparkling with emotional light, cut with the siblings’ evocative vocal tones which are spooky and robust, part unbridled joy, part desperation, often hairraising. Get past a couple of hokey moments to be transported back, first to the communal hopes of the ’70s and thence into the country lanes of centuries passed. Jim Irvin