The 25th CD cover - click for full size"The 25th"

Magpie Lane MLCD10

The latest Magpie Lane CD "The 25th" was released in December 2018.

The first Magpie Lane CD, The Oxford Ramble, was released in April 1993 and the band’s first public appearance came a couple of weeks later. This is their tenth album, celebrating not only the band’s twenty-fifth anniversary,  but also 25 years of annual Christmas concerts at the Holywell Music Room in Oxford. These concerts have become quite a feature of the Oxford musical landscape, and are a highlight of the year both for the band and the audience.

Like Wassail (1995) and Knock at the Knocker, Ring at the Bell (2006) the album features songs and tunes suitable for Winter and the Christmas season. Many are carols drawn from English sources – from the West Gallery era, from the notebooks of the early twentieth century collectors, or from the vibrant living carolling tradition of South Yorkshire. The earliest piece here, ‘Angelus ad Virginem’, is from the thirteenth century – and is performed in a way that acknowledges the original links between carolling and dancing. ‘In Winter Time’, on the other hand, composed by guitarist Jon Fletcher’s father, is a starkly beautiful carol which deserves to be ranked alongside the finest examples of twentieth century English carol compositions.

There are also secular songs. Both George Wither’s seventeenth century ‘Christmas Caroll’ and Pete Joshua’s modern ‘I am Christmas Time’ celebrate the good things about Christmas – eating, drinking, and having a good time with friends and family.

With four lead vocalists, the quality of the singing – both individually and in harmony – is never in doubt. And, this being Magpie Lane, there’s a number of dance tunes – from Yorkshire, Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Skye – played with irresistible zest.


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  1. Sweet Chiming Bells                                                             
  2. Newton’s Double                                                                  
  3. Gabriel’s Message                                                                
  4. A Christmas Caroll                                                                 
  5. As Shepherds Watched their Fleecy Care                    
  6. Christmas Carousing / Mummers’ Jig and Reel          
  7. Sellwood Molyneux’ Carol                                                 
  8. In Winter Time                                                                       
  9. Angelus ad Virginem / I Saw Three Ships                     
  10. I am Christmas Time                                                            
  11. On a Cold Winter’s Day / Down in yon Forest            
  12. Hark Hark What News                                                         
  13. A Christmas Tale / Christmas Day in the Morning    
  14. The Trees are all Bare

All tracks traditional arranged Magpie Lane, except

  • A Christmas Caroll: words by George Wither
  • In Winter Time: Michael Fletcher
  • I am Christmas Time: Pete Joshua

With special guests:

  • Colin Fletcher: double bass
  • Marguerite Hutchinson: vocals, Northumbrian smallpipes

Recorded and mixed 2018 by Jon and Colin Fletcher, at Starling Audio, Middleton Stoney, Oxfordshire.

Original artwork by Tom Bower.


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