Anthems in Eden is a 1969 album by Shirley and Dolly Collins, with the Early Music Consort of London, directed by David Munrow. The album originally consisted of a 28-minute set of folk songs plus seven other individual pieces performed by the same group. The musical arrangements for these eight pieces included early music instruments, such as viols, recorders, sackbuts and crumhorns. In 1976, six new songs were recorded with a different assortment of accompanists, to replace the original seven individual songs. This 1976 album consisting of the 28-minute set plus the six new songs was released by Harvest Records under the title Amaranth. Subsequent releases have combined all fourteen pieces under the original title, Anthems in Eden.
The original recording of eight tracks was made in 1969 and was released as the original vinyl album. Track one is a suite, “A song-story”, lasting 28 minutes, 7 seconds and is the centrepiece of the album.
In 1976, a further six tracks were recorded with musicians mainly from the Albion Band and a new version of the album was released, with the original “A song-story” suite on one side and the new recordings on the other. This album was issued under the name Amaranth.
Side 1 of the original album consists of “A song-story”, a suite of folk songs which depict the changes in rural England brought about by the First World War, and the disconnection that this created with folk traditions. Recorded with an ensemble of early music instruments, it was a completely unique approach to recording English folk music and was to be influential on bands such as Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span in the way that they addressed the traditional folk repertoire. The importing of early instruments into popular recordings is believed to have influenced other bands such as Amazing Blondel and Gryphon.
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