La Rocque 'n' Roll
The Baltimore Consort's previous album titles have been chosen to attract interest, even before the contents are examined: the ''Art of the bawdy song'' aimed at Sunday tabloid listeners, whilst ''Watkin's ale'' may even have raised false expectations in naive members of CAMRA, of rock 'n' roll, as most of its devotees understand it, the connection is no less tenuous in this latest bran tub. As I commented in my review of ''Watkin's ale'' (4/92), popular and art music were once on handshaking terms, and in later times they never entirely lost touch, the popular tunes of this century have always been freely treated, as they doubtless were in the 1500s (the time around which the present programme is based). Those of a nervous disposition have little to fear: the only rock 'n' roll elements here are those of rhythmic energy, free embellishment and the use of varied (non-electric) instrumental settings—all of which existed in jazz and popular music long before the advent of r 'n' r. As in this century, most of the music is by known composers and the novelty lies in the manner of its treatment, an area in which The Baltimore Consort are unusually well equipped with a prismatic battery of instruments—and the ability to play them very well; Custer LaRue's sweetly simple voice sounds more natural and comfortable here than in the 'naughty' songs on the previous discs. Don't be put off by the threat of rock 'n' roll—there isn't any, just accept this for what it is, a selection of old wines in new (and certainly not 'authentic') bottles, with excellent recording and commendably thorough annotation. Purists are duly warned.'