Why do a tribute album to the Wicker Man soundtrack when the original was so good? That’s a fair question to ask, forgive me if I give a long answer.

It’s all down to January 2022. I’d just received the folk horror box set “All The Haunts Be Ours” from Severin FIlms and was binging through it that month. So folk horror was really in my thoughts and in my blood. I was out in my back yard, raking the gravel back into place (not a weird tribute to Hugh from The Owl Service but a necessary chore as my doodles send the stuff flying) when the idea crept up on me and wouldn’t let go.

Take that classic soundtrack and take a step out. Make things a bit more experimental, more raw, less commercial, more soul. Pick the artists well and tell them they can do whatever they want. Straight covers welcome, radical rearrangements welcome, even starting something new from scratch inspired by your given track would be OK too.

For me, and I suspect many others my own age, the soundtrack was their gateway into the previously reviled world of folk music. I discovered the Wicker Man around 1994 (whenever the Terror Vision VHS came out, I was definitely still a teenager – it was in the new releases section at Leeds HMV). The heydays of the folk revival were long gone and the classic albums all out of print.

The only encounters with folk music were the dying embers of the UK’s club scene, where people tried, and usually failed, to recapture the lost spark. I saw the Wicker Man many years before I heard the classics like Pentangle and Fairport Convention or the new wave of acts like The Owl Service or Espers.

Now, with folk in a burgeoning, innovative, vital movement once again and buoyed by Facebook groups like ‘Folk Horror Revival’, It made so much sense, I couldn’t believe it hadn’t already been done already. What followed was two months of intensive hard thinking, all carefully logged in a spreadsheet for future reference.

I’d always loved Finders Keepers compilation “Willow’s Songs” which delved into the past of the songs from the Wicker Man. I wanted to make a companion to that, a future of the songs. For the whole point of folk music is songs passing on to new musicians and evolving and changing.

I looked at the plan I’d laid out. The plan looked good. This was going to be a lot of work. Most compilation albums, if someone drops out, you can just forget about their track. With a set track-list like this, any drop outs had to be replaced and that would cause huge delays and knowing the fickle nature of creative inspiration, it was inevitable.

I hoped to have it all in place in just five months, though I knew that was perhaps overly optimistic. It took over eighteen. Which ended up pushing it on to the fiftieth anniversary of the film. So, there’s lots of anniversary stuff going on, including other musical tributes onstage and even bundled in with the 4k box set. It’s all good, though, I feel like these other tributes are coming from a different place and in no way clash with what I’m doing.

This is the raw, stripped-down and out-there version. It’s been mind-blowing having all these songs slowly trickling in and I can’t stop listening to this. I love it when a plan comes together.

Ned Netherwood, June 2023