Marais & Miranda

No Dolly No & Other Rare Folk Songs

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Having experimented with orchestral arrangements in their previous MGM effort, European Folk Song Festival, Marais and Miranda returned to their "Bushveld" origins with this record. It is a very consistent and impressive effort, suggesting that the first couple of South African folk music had lost little in the latter days of their long and prolific career. For all the blithe cheerfulness of their selections, the considerable intelligence and skill exhibited in the arrangements and harmonies give this recording an unexpected air of sophistication. The blend of Josef Marais' warm unpretentious tenor with his wife's trilling soprano vibrato is distinctive and charming. One questions the authenticity of the production -- surely the songs are given a classical facelift here that would be alien to the South African natives -- but the creativity and spirit of these performances is admirable nonetheless. The record contains several excellent renditions of songs that were enduring favorites at Marais and Miranda concerts. "The Old Transvaal" is memorably textured with sonorous cello and wistful accordion and includes English and Afrikaans lyrics. "Hex River Valley," a classic originally written by Marais for his African Trek radio program in the early '40s, has all the nostalgic longing of an American cowboy campfire song. And, of course, "No Dolly No" is energetically and infectiously performed at the outset of the record. Listeners looking for a high-fidelity introduction to Marais and Miranda's signature sound will not be disappointed.

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