15 Artists from around the world - 15 Tracks - All inspired by "Tales from the Black Meadow"

Friday, 25 July 2014

Artist of the Week - Winterberry - The Lay of the Land

There are apparently only a few known copies of this album in existence.

Three copies are now in the possession of Andrew Hodges who bought two copies from a charity shop in York in 1997 for 50p each. Knowing that these were extremely valuable Andrew insisted on paying £10 for both (a great deal of money back then). The other copy he found in the attic of an old pub/folk singer whose wife had organised an open house clearance following his untimely death (he fell from a stile whilst exploring the Whiteway Head's Road). It is said that a fourth is held in a vault in a Hamburg bank but this cannot be verified at this time.

One of the main questions that rises from the mystery of Winterberry is why there are so few copies out there. Maytree Recordings (an unacknowledged offshoot of Island Records) folded in 1975 following a series of unsuccessful ventures with a variety of bands. Few now remember the work of Michael Tally, The Hunters of Rye, Star Spangled Bagman, A Tanner for a Pear and of course Winterberry. This is very sad because it is clear from the track that Chris Sharp has uncovered that they were a very exciting force in the world of folk music.

According to Maytree's ledgers (that Chris Sharp bought at auction last year) 500 copies were pressed in 1974 but only a few made it to the shops. Apparently the truck carrying the bulk of Maytree's stock was involved in a fatal collision on the A47 in May of that year. The stock that did survive did make it to a few branches of Woolworths, but sadly,  the Anti-Pagan League (a branch of the Nationwide Festival of Light) bought up the remaining stock and burnt them outside St Mary The Virgin Church in Uttoxeter.

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