MUSIC - BATTLE OF THE BIRDS
- BP 359
Cast of thousands includes...Anthony Phillips, on guitar, Harry Williamson
on guitar, Gilli Smyth narration and vocals, Didier Malherbe
on flute. The Battle of the Birds is a traditional Celtic
tale in the grand style. Enchantment, spells, a Giant, magical
birds and a host of extras star in this ancient story of
the power of true love ascendant over brute force. The tale
starts with a battle between birds and animals, but soon
reveals that the winning bird, the Raven, is an enchanted
human, who gives the king's son a mysterious bundle.
Musically this piece evolved from recordings in open tuned 6 & l2 string guitars made by Harry Williamson and Anthony Phillips at Send Barnes, in Surrey, in l976-8. During those sessions some simple orchestration was added, oboe...Simon Phillips, violin and cello...Carl & Dorothy...In '8I at Ox's Cross Harry transferred the original 4 track masters onto 8 track. Gilli Smyth, who had edited the Battle of the Birds story, narrated it in her own special way, taking one of the character parts as well, and the people below recorded other parts.
While visiting from France to rehearse for a Mother Gong tour, Didier Malherbe added his unique touch to the whole, flutes, piccolo and saxophones were layered and interleaved throughout the four movements. Jan Emerick added interesting slavic harmonic twists to the third movement using acoustic guitar. Hugh Hopper added some bass, and Guy Evans percussed using paper drums in particular for the giant's footsteps. The master reels were quickly mixed onto cassette, and for a short time cassettes of this very rough mix circulated via Otter songs/GAS. Now 25 years later the original recordings have been re-mixed and lightly edited to create this CD. Some of the music has been rearranged to fit the story better... The nicely produced 12 page booklet contains the full story and the lyrics to the only actual song on the album, 'Auburn Mary Song'