Album ReviewsReviews

Review: V.A. - John Barleycorn Reborn: Rebirth (2011)

artist: Vari­ous
release: John Bar­ley­corn Reborn: Rebirth
format: 2xCD
year of release: 2011
label: Cold Spring
dur­a­tion: 2:32:05

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Per­haps it was to be expec­ted that after the ori­ginal John Bar­ley­corn Reborn 2CD set and last year’s ‘sequel’ We Bring You a King with a Head of Gold, the MP3-only sup­ple­ment to the former com­pil­a­tion would be put on CD as well. Ori­gin­ally, it was a bonus release from Woven Wheat Whis­pers, and as you can read in my review, it con­tained quite a few nice addi­tional tracks to what was fea­tured on the CD. Now that this mater­ial is out on CD as well, thanks to Cold Spring, it’s time to go over them again.

CD 1 starts with some tra­di­tional folk num­bers, where The Story’s track stands out a bit because of its strong instru­ment­a­tion and psych folk revival style, while we get supreme relax­a­tion from David A Jay­cock and Yea­l­and Red­mayne. A bit of medi­aeval mater­ial comes from Steve Tyler and The Wendigo, though the best of this genre is found on the second disc. I failed to really notice the track last time around, but the Tigon Mix of The Owl Ser­vice’s “Wake the Vaul­ted Echo” is rather excel­lent as well: mys­ter­i­ous and a tad off­beat with its folky elec­tron­ica style. I’ve men­tioned (and played) the superb coda to Far Black Fur­long’s The East Room plenty of times, so once more can’t hurt. Other tracks of note on the first CD included the dark ghost story by The Straw Bear Band, and the lovely freefolk of The Big Eyes Fam­ily Play­ers.

The second disc con­tains quite a few nice works as well. There’s psy­che­delic and dreamy pieces from artists like Cun­nan, Orchis, and Twelve Thou­sand Days, as well as a soar­ing a capella by Clive Pow­ell. More medi­aeval good­ness comes from Daugh­ters of Elvin, and par­tic­u­larly from Miseri­cor­dia with their bril­liant hammered dul­ci­mer-based “De Ponir Amor a Me”. Sedayne and Rachel McCar­ron join together as Venereum Arvum again with a won­der­ful ver­sion of Child Bal­lad 102, a lovely vocal har­mony and a great melody, too.

Alto­gether, this bonus set to the ori­ginal com­pil­a­tion is very much worth pick­ing up if you did­n’t get the digital ver­sion at the time, now unavail­able, or if you prefer to have it on CD, which is reason enough by itself. Together with We Bring You a King with a Head of Gold, these two instal­ments of John Bar­ley­corn Reborn make a fas­cin­at­ing set of 6 CDs fea­tur­ing some of the best artists from Brit­ish altern­at­ive folk today, which is an essen­tial part of any folk lov­er’s col­lec­tion. At the same time, after these sets, I feel it’s been enough, and it would be inter­est­ing to see a col­lec­tion of all the lovely folk that’s been made in the rest of the world in the past dec­ade. There are loads of gems out there wait­ing to be dis­covered by a wider audi­ence.

Reviewed by O.S.


1-01 Mag­pi­ety – The Rolling Of The Stones
1-02 The Story – All Hal­low’s Eve
1-03 Telling The Bees – Wood
1-04 David A Jay­cock – Bonny Jay­cock Turner
1-05 Yea­l­and Red­mayne – Oh My Boy, My Bonny Boy
1-06 Char­lotte Greig & Johan Ash­er­ton – The Bold Fish­er­man
1-07 Steve Tyler – Tier­ceron
1-08 The Wendigo – The Wendigo
1-09 The Owl Ser­vice – Wake The Vaul­ted Echo (Tigon Mix)
1-10 Far Black Fur­long – The East Room V
1-11 Xenis Emputae Trav­el­ling Band – Bright­en­ing Dew
1-12 Sedayne – Cor­vus Monedula
1-13 The Straw Bear Band – Bear Ghost
1-14 Novem­three – Scythe To The Grass
1-15 Paul New­man – Lavon­dyss
1-16 James Reid – King­fisher Blue
1-17 JefvTaon – (Dig­ging The) Mid­night Sil­ver
1-18 Wooden Spoon – Chil­dren’s Soul
1-19 The Big Eyes Fam­ily Play­ers – A Dream Of Fires

2-01 Sun­dog – Impro­visa­tion At Kilpeck, June 2007
2-02 Clive Pow­ell – Ca The Horse, Me Marra
2-03 Mac Hende­r­son And Grand Union Mor­ris – Jack In The Green
2-04 Cun­nan – Seven Sleep­ers, Seven Sor­rows
2-05 Orchis – The Silkie
2-06 Twelve Thou­sand Days – Thistles
2-07 Novem­three – Har­vest Dance
2-08 James Reid – Elder
2-09 Mary Jane – When I Was In My Prime
2-10 Daugh­ters Of Elvin – Ognor Mi Trovo
2-11 Miseri­cor­dia – De Poni Amor A Me
2-12 Venereum Arvum – Child 102 (Lily Flower Mix)
2-13 The Anvil – John Bar­ley­corn Must Live
2-14 Sun­shine Cod­ing – The Old Way