Sumer Is Icumen In: The Pagan Sound Of British And Irish Folk 1966-75

“… Stonehenge, one of this island’s most significant structures, is constructed in alignment with the setting sun on that day. After the solstice, the days lengthen and a new cycle of the year begins. An image of what could be Stonehenge appears inside the back cover of the booklet coming with Sumer Is Icumen In – The Pagan Sound Of British & Irish Folk 1966-1975. Inside its front cover, a similar edifice is seen. Within it, a circle of woman kneel each with arms outstretched. The image is taken from the 1973 film, The Wicker Man and the ostensible stone circle in the picture was made for the film. So was the second track on this three-CD clamshell set, ‘Corn Rigs’ by Magnet. In the booklet, it says that although the words of ‘Corn Rigs’ were penned by Robert Burns the film’s music was written by ‘New Yorker Paul Giovanni, with the music played by Magnet – actually English folk rock band Hocket, augmented for the occasion by a couple of recent graduates from the Royal College of Music.’ Such is the world of Sumer Is Icumen In, a release intimately tied-in with this time of year. And like The Wicker Man there’s a pick-’n-mix approach to the pagan. The remit is broad, taking in, as it’s put, a ‘darkly pagan woodland that’s peppered with invocations of corn gods, wicker men, bright Phoebus and other non-Christian deities; magickal tales of daemons, sorcerers, false knights and faerie queens; the medieval England myths, legends, rites and traditions of the May Queen, John Barleycorn and the Green Man; paeans to the natural world and the rhythm of the passing seasons; fables of sanctuary stones, scarecrows, talking horses and buried villages alongside dread stories of purgatory, sacrifice, rape, bestiality and murder.’ Amongst the well-known names included are Kevin Coyne, Curved Air and Mighty Baby, none of whom immediately spring to mind as within the title’s qualifiers of folk and/or pagan. Anne Briggs, Shirley Collins, Pentangle and Strawbs are a more snug fit. There’s 60 tracks on Sumer Is Icumen In and it’s a fair bet few contributors were actual pagans: practitioners of the non- or pre-Christian – heathens. …”
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Sumer Is Icumen In: The Pagan Sound Of British And Irish Folk 1966-75  30 videos

Dr Strangely Strange

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