Remember how I said my family has weird taste in holiday music? English Village Carols is one of those recordings that proves the point: a field recording made in village pubs across England, with amateur choristers of varying age and ability (and, apparently, hearing), singing carols together as they’ve done for almost two centuries.
If you have low tolerance for enthusiastic but occasionally imprecise harmonies, eccentric vibratos, lots of dramatic rubratos, cheesy little pub organs, and carols that have been forgotten everywhere else but in these small village gatherings, you may want to steer away. But for me this recording is a breath of fresh air amidst the general seasonal miasma of “White Christmas” (as performed by Martina McBride, Rosemary Clooney, Elvis, Roomful of Blues, the Oak Ridge Boys, Clay Walker, Percy Faith, the Statler Brothers, Lee Ann Womack, the Chipmunks, and about 180 others, according to the iTunes Music Store). Recommended for the general rough beauty of the singing, and the clinking of pint glasses that accompanies most of the carols.