This is a perfectly pleasant recording of attractive music sung very prettily by Margarette Ashton and played nicely by the instrumentalists. The only slight problem with it – for the thoroughbred Geordie at least – is that the songs really need broader north-eastern pronunciation, as they sound somewhat tamer and less meaningful, when sung in parlour style English, than they might do in the authentic language. ‘Buy Broom Buzzems’ (Track 4) is a case in point:
(Verse) If you want a buzzem (besom) for to sweep your hoose
Come to me my hinneys, you can have your choose .
(Chorus) Buy broom buzzems, buy them when they’re new
Fine heather bred’uns better never grew
(Verse) It’s buzzems for a penny, rangers for a slack
If you will not buy I’ll tie them on my back
(Verse) If I had a horse I would have a cart
If I had a wife she would take my part
(Verse) If I had a wife I care not what she be
If she’s but a woman, that’s enough for me
(Verse) If she likes a droppie, her and I’d agree
If she doesn’t like it that’s the more for me.
But some compromises are necessary of course, because the programme is part of a project aimed at schoolchildren – and the tunes to the songs are often very fine – as anyone familiar with Kathleen Ferrier’s own ‘Blow the wind southerly’ would surely agree. The lullaby ‘Bonny at morn’ for example will be a real find for anyone new to it. As an introduction to the traditional music of the North East, the disc is well worth a hearing, but as a taster for the North Eastern spirit as whole it lacks a certain ‘je ne sais quoi.’