'Whistling Jigs to the Moon’ is one of those great lost albums of folk music. For some reason it was only released in South Africa way back in 1978 on the Stanyan label. This release from Sommor Records is beautifully presented; it’s not the first time the album has been issued on CD, Kissing Spell got there first in 1996 and there may have been a South Korean issue at some point. Kissing Spell also released ‘My Lagan Love’, a collection of unreleased and live recordings by the band a couple of years later. There seems to be a lot of interest for a band that never really had an album released except in South Africa during their lifetime. The simple reason for this is that two members of the acclaimed folk band Mellow Candle were major players in Flibbertigibbet. Allison and David Williams arrived in South Africa in 1974 after Mellow Candle had spilt. Teaming up with Barrie Glenn and Jo Dudding, Flibbertigibbet was born. The four musicians are joined on the songs featured on ‘Whistling Jigs to the Moon’ with Francesco Cignoli (violin), bassist Denis Lalouette, Nippy Cripwell (string bass), Colin Shapiro (flute) and Dave Lambert (fiddle).

The main attraction for folk enthusiasts will be the presence of Alison Williams on vocals. Alison, now better known as Alison O’Donnell, is still making cutting-edge folk music and pushing barriers. Her vocals on this set of songs are, as expected, crystal clear and wonderful. A mix of traditional tunes and songs given the Flibbertigibbet touch coupled with a few originals make ‘Whistling Jigs to the Moon’ as essential purchase not only for Alison O’Donnell or Mellow Candle fans but also for any music fan with a liking for the folk music that was popular in the 70's. While obvious reference points would be Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, and while those bands also had exceptional female lead singers, there’s still a place for the work of Flibbertigibbet alongside their more famous contemporaries. In face there are tracks on this album that rank with some of the best from both the aforementioned bands. One listen to their take on the traditional ‘The Green Cockade’ will convince many of that. With all four members of the band taking vocals it’s a perfect example of how their voices blend so well together.

While Alison O’Donnell is the reason many will check out this album, the other members are hardly lacking in the vocal department, especially Jo Dudding. Songs such as ‘Four Drunken Maidens’ are testament as to how well suited both O’Donnell and Dudding were vocally not just to this type of folk music but also to each other. But O’Donnell’s ‘Episodes’ where she shares vocals with David Williams is almost as affective too. Vocally, as well as musically, this band really shone brightly.

Many ‘lost’ albums should remain just that, lost. Here’s one that really does deserve a reissue and Sommor Records have done an amazing job here. This issue has been digitally remastered from the original master tapes by original producer David Marks and has never sounded better. The album is available on both CD and vinyl and is lovingly presented complete with lyric book that features some fascinating images.

There’s a lot that could be learnt here from those starting out who are thankfully keeping the folk flag flying, dipping into this set for inspiration instead of some of the more well known albums by bands who were more famous than Flibbertigibbet would be time well spent. There’s only one complaint; fourteen songs/tunes and only thirty-seven minutes leaves the listener wanting more of the same.


















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