George Deacon

Sweet William's Ghost

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Sweet William's Ghost Review

by Richie Unterberger

By the early '70s, the British label Transatlantic had moved to some degree from the traditional folk with which it had established itself in the mid-'60s to a more flexible roster that emphasized folk-rock and other kinds of rock. Still, this rare release by George Deacon and Marion Ross -- dated 1972 or 1973 in different discographies -- was about as pure English folk as it comes. With a sharp lilting English accent, Deacon sings 11 traditional English songs, the minimal accompaniment usually emphasizing guitar and harmonium. It's stark stuff of the kind that will bring to mind proud straight-backed forbearance, and isn't for those who want even the merest concession to conventional 20th century popular melodies and lyrics. If you are a listener looking for quite earnest, straightforward traditional English music that sounds as if someone had transported a tape recorder a few centuries back through time, this is very accomplished, if lacking in warmth and humor. Some haunting high instrumental backing tones do add welcome exotic mystery to a few tracks, and some male-female backup vocals on "Fiddler S. Hill" alleviate the quite solitary atmosphere evoked by most of the LP.