The Watersons classic 'lost' album 'Bright Phoebus', has not been available since 1972 when it was released on a a very limited vinyl edition of 1000. Seen by many as their masterpiece, it has just been re-released on the Domino label and has entered the national album charts at No21 45 years after its release.
Kitty Empire's Guardian review :
"“Folk music” can mean radically different things. Hardliners objected to two of the storied Waterson clan writing traditional-sounding but original songs on this legendary album from 1972, largely unavailable for 45 years, now lovingly remastered. Few voices capture the ancient strangeness of the genre like Lal Waterson’s (1943-98), never more arresting than on the dreamlike, sensual and eerie Fine Horseman, while brother Mike Waterson’s (1941-2011) title track closes the album with a reedy power. A few songs here – best of all, Shady Lady – are full of the kind of 60s harmonic whimsy associated with the Beatles, locating the album in the 20th century, but The Scarecrow remains timeless and terrifying."
In 2013, they staged The Bright Phoebus Revisited tour – MD’d by oboist/arranger Kate St John, which was accompanied by the publication of a book 'Teach Me To Be A Summer’s Morning' (Fledg’ling Books, in association with Topic Records). Collated by Marry Waterson and David Suff, the book features paintings, drawings, stained glass designs, poems and lyrics by Lal, as well as a CD of previously unreleased Bright Phoebus-era material.
“These are intimate performances from mum at the piano or playing guitar,” Lal’s daughter Marry told MOJO, “almost as if you were in her front room with her. The sun is shining in, the walls are painted mustard yellow and she is singing to you – a private audience.
“Song For Thirsa, Pipers Path, Shine, Evon Our Darling, Marvellous Companion and One Of Those Days were all written in the same period as Bright Phoebus, but never made it onto the original album, though they are infused with the same poetic imagery and startlingly good melodies.”
The unearthed material was performed on the Bright Phoebus Revisited tour by a group containing Cocker, Hawley, Martin and Eliza Carthy, Marry, Norma, Eleanor and Ann Waterson, plus Lal’s son Oliver Knight.