Narrated by Gilli SMYTH
Music by Anthony PHILLIPS and Harry WILLIAMSON
with Didier MALHERBE

Battle of the Birds

Blueprint-VOICEPRINT - BP 359 CD

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.
The plot becomes multifaceted, and evolves in many unexpected directions, till the surprise ending, which has its own surreal and symbolic logic to it. The images conjured by the combination of narrative, vignettes and magical music provide pace to a compelling story, and as a postscript there will be a few of the earlier pieces, slightly remixed, as instrumentals.

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.

Gilli Smyth: Auburn Mary
Tasmin Smyth: The First Queen
Harry Williamson: The Raven, the First King's Son
Orlando Allen: The Mouse & the Hoodies
Bee Williamson: The Cooks son, Mice, and Hoodies
Taliesin Allen: The Second young son, & Hoodies
Aardvark: The Shoemaker
Helen: The Shoemaker's wife
Dave the Wave: The Giant and Guest
Clare: the Auburn Mary Song
Everyone around: the guests at the wedding

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'

1-The Wren & Raven
2-Raven Flight
3-The Magic Bundle
4-The Promise
5-The First Test
6-The Second Test
7-Wed The Giants Daughter
8-The First Spell
9-The Last Spell
10-From Rags To Riches
11-Auburn Mary Song
12-The Choice

Gilli Smyth

Anthony Phillips

Didier Malherbe

Harry Williamson