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NEWSLETTER #145
Folk Music - American, British Isles, etc.
The Almanac Singers ->
The Weavers
 

 

 

NEW DVD

 
AMERICAN FOLK BOB DYLAN Docurama 9824 Don't Look Back - 65 Tour Deluxe Edition $48.98
Two DVD package with 168 page book devoted to Dylan's 1965 tour of England - his last as an acoustic performer. The first disc features a newly remastered version of D.A. Pennebaker's classic film of that tour which captured Dylan on stage and in a variety of informal situations. This comes with a commentary by Pennebaker and tour road manager Bob Neuwirth and a host of bonus features including five additional uncut audio tracks, an alternate version of the "Subterranean Homesick Blues" opening sequence, the original theatrical trailer, a Pennebaker filmography, Dylan discography and more. The second DVD features a new documentary culled from over 20 hours of previously unseen footage from Pennebaker's personal files and also includes a commentary by Pennebaker and Neuwirth. But wait, there's more. There's a 168 page book originally published in 1968 featuring a complete transcription of the film, over 200 photos and a new forward by Pennebaker. It also includes a copy of the flipbook for the opening "Subterranean Homesick Blues" sequence.

 
AMERICAN FOLK

BOB DYLAN Docurama 9875 Don't Look Back $18.98
For the more casual Dylan fan this is the first disc of the deluxe package featuring the newly remastered version of the film along with its bonus features.

 

NEW COMPACT DISCS

 
AMERICAN FOLK

THE ALMANAC SINGERS Rev-Ola 182 Which Side Are You On - The Best Of The Almnac Singers $15.98
31 tracks, 79 min., highly recommended
The Almanac Singers were a politically leftist outfit that essentially defined modern American folk music and consisted (originally) of Pete Seeger (pre-Weavers), Lee Haynes, and Mildred Lampwell. Later line ups included (at various times) Woody Guthrie, Josh White, Bess Lomax Hawes and others. They sang pro-union songs, anti-war numbers, and sea chanties. These tracks, recorded between March 1941 and February 1942, include "Ground Hog, Babe O' Mine, The Sinking Of The Rueben James, Union Made, The Dodger Song, C For Conscription, and plenty more. The majority feature Seeger on lead vocals, though Guthrie takes lead on the classic Ride An Old Paint, House Of The Rising Sun, Blow The Man Down, Hard, Ain't It Hard, and (with Seeger and Josh White) Liza Jane. Ballad Of October which contains the line, "we won't be safe until everybody's dead," seems somehow sadly appropriate these days. A generous collection of important folk music. But why'd they omit Dear Mr. President? Probably a question of national security. (JC)

 
SCOTLAND THE BATTLEFIELD BAND Temple COMD 2098 The Road Of Tears $14.98
17 track, 62 mins, highly recommended
The newest from Scotland's great band that have been performing for more than 30 years. Although only singer/ songwriter / keyboardist Alan Reid remains from the original line up their sound remains true to their origins beautifully blending pipes, guitar, keyboards, fiddle and other instruments into a richly textured ensemble sound. The songs and tunes here are mostly based around the theme of emigrants and emigration with traditional songs, several fine songs by Alan who hasn't lost his touch for meaningful lyrics and beautiful melodies along with the poem To A Mouse written by the great Scottish bard Robert Burns set to a gorgeous tune by Alan which is the origin of the phrase "the best laid schemes o'mice and men." Lovely stuff. (FS)

 
ENGLAND ANNE BRIGGS Water 192 The Time Has Come $15.98
12 tracks, 41 mins, very good
Reissue of Anne's rare 1971 Columbia album. Unlike her mostly traditional recordings she had recently recorded for Topic this one is all contemporary songs - most of them by Anne herself. Her songs have a wispy, evanescent quality reflecting the "hippy" consciousness of the era and most of them don't particularly stand the test of time very well. The best song here is her version of Lal Waterson's beautiful Fine Horseman. She accompanies herself on guitar or bouzuoki and includes a couple of nice bouzouki instrumentals. (FS)

 
ENGLAND FAIRPORT CONVENTION Island (UK) 9845385 Live At The BBC $65.98
Four Cd set, 69 tracks, highly recommended
Just when you thought that the well of Fairport recordings from their prime years was dry along comes this great four CD set with 69 tracks drawn from BBC radio broadcasts made between 1967 and 1974. 17 tracks have been out before, most notably on the "Heyday" album but the rest are all previously unreleased and includes all the various incarnations of the group over this period. Most of the songs are drawn from their studio albums but with the turnover of personnell, lead vocals are frequently different and arrangements vary and there are a number of songs that they never recorded commercially. Since the BBC didn't keep all their tapes (shame on you BBC) some of the tracks are from second or third generation sources of lesser quality but most sound fine. Set is housed in a handsome book format with a 48 page booklet with notes by Kingsley Abbott and some great vintage photos. (FS)
FAIRPORT CONVENTION: Angel Delight (27/3/71)/ Autopsy (6/4/69)/ Banks Of The Sweet Primroses (27/3/71)/ Bird On A Wire (8/12/68)/ Bonny Bunch Of Roses (26/7/70)/ Book Song (6/1/69)/ Bridge Over The River Ash (27/3/71)/ Cajun Woman (6/4/69)/ Chelsea Morning (10/12/67)/ Close The Door Lightly When You Go (2/6/68)/ Deserter (26/7/70)/ Dirty Linen (26/7/70)/ Doctor Of Physick (1/8/70)/ Down In The Flood (6/8/74)/ Eastern Rain (1/9/68)/ Fiddlestix (6/8/74)/ Flatback Caper (27/4/70)/ Fotheringay (1/9/68)/ Fotheringay (9/2/69)/ Gone, Gone, Gone (1/9/68)/ Hangman's (26/7/70)/ I Don't Know Where I Stand (2/6/68)/ I Still Miss Someone (8/12/68)/ If (Stomp) (3/3/68)/ If I Had A Ribbon Bow (3/3/68)/ If It Feels Good, You Know It Can't Be Wrong (1/9/68)/ Jack O' Diamonds (24/6/68)/ John The Gun (6/8/74)/ Journeyman's Grace (19/11/70)/ Lady Is A Tramp (27/9/69)/ Lay Down Your Weary Tune (10/12/67)/ Let's Get Together (10/12/67)/ Light My Fire (22/12/68)/ Lord Marlborough (27/3/71)/ Marcie (24/6/68)/ Matthew, Mark, Luke & John (20/2/73)/ Medley: The Lark In The Morning-Rakish Paddy-Foxhunter's Jig-Toss The Feath/ Meet On The Ledge (8/12/68)/ Night In The City (24/6/68)/ Nottamun Town (2/6/68)/ Now Be Thankful (19/11/70)/ Now Be Thankful (26/7/70)/ One Sure Thing (10/12/67)/ Open The Door Richard (27/4/70)/ Percy's Song (6/4/69)/ Poor Will And The Jolly Hangman (2/5/70)/ Possibly Parsons Green (20/2/73)/ Reno Nevada (6/1/69)/ Reynardine (27/9/69)/ Rising For The Moon (6/8/74)/ Rosie (20/2/73)/ Shattering Live Experience (9/2/69)/ Si Tu Dois Partir (6/4/69)/ Sickness & Diseases (27/3/71)/ Sir Patrick Spens (27/4/70)/ Sir Patrick Spens (27/9/69)/ Sir William Gower (27/3/71)/ Some Sweet Day (2/6/68)/ Suzanne (1/9/68)/ Tam Lin (26/7/70)/ Tam Lin (27/9/69)/ Time Will Show The Wiser (3/3/68)/ Tokyo (20/2/73)/ Tried So Hard (6/1/69)/ Violets Of Dawn (3/3/68)/ Walk Awhile (2/5/70)/ Who Knows Where The Time Goes? (9/2/69)/ You Never Wanted Me (2/6/68)/ You're Gonna Need My Help (9/2/69)

 
ENGLAND FAIRPORT CONVENTION Vertigo 984 305-1 The Bonny Bunch Of Roses $14.98
9 tracks, 36 mins, recommended
Reissue of 1977 album by the last lineup of the group before they broke up for the firs time. The material mixes traditional (The Eynsham Poacher, a lengthy version of the title song, General Taylor, etc.) and contemporary (a very fine version of Richard Thompson's Poor Ditching Boy, Ralph McTell's Run Johnny Run, etc) along with a couple of instrumentals. Not as strong as their earlier work but a very worthwhile set. (FS)

 
ENGLAND FAIRPORT CONVENTION Vertigo 984 305-2 Tipplers Tales $14.98
10 tracks, 39 mins, recommended
Reissue of their 1979 Vertigo album - their last studio album before they reunited to record "Gladys Leap" in 1985. This is, I think, a somewhat better album than "Bonny Bunch Of Roses". The singing is stronger and the instrumental arrangements are more imaginative with some particular innovative fiddle work from Dave. Their excellent 11 minute version of Jack O'Rion has one of Dave's strongest vocals and Simon turns in a fine lead on Alan Taylor's Lady Of Pleasure (the only contemporary song here). It also includes Ye Mariners All/ Reynard The Fox/ Bankruptured/ Hair Of the Dogma/ John Barlkeycorn, etc. (FS)

 
IRELAND JOE HEANEY Northwest Archives NWARCD 001 Say A Song - Joe Heaney In The Pacific Northwest $16.98
19 tracks, highly recommended
Available again. A beautiful collection of unaccompanied songs (half in Gaelic) in the Connemara style from this great Irish singer recorded in the late 70s and early 80s at various concerts and informal sessions in and around Seattle, Washington where he spent the last years of his life. Whether he is singing the poignant A Stor Mo Chroi or the light hearted The Wife Of The Bold Tenant Farmer his singing is powerful and expressive and a true delight. Also includes The Galway Shawl/ Roisin Dubh/ Red Is The Rose/ Will You Come Over The Mountain?/ An Tiarna RandalOro, Se do Bheatha 'Bhaile!/ I Wish I Had Someone To LOve Me/ The Claddagh Ring and more. Includes booklet with informative notes by James Cowdrey and Sean Williams and translations of the Gaelic songs. (FS)

 
ENGLAND THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND Hux 087 Across The Airwaves - BBC Radio Records, 1969-1974 $27.98
Two CD set with 33 tracks of eclectic music broadcast live by the B.B.C. between 1969 and 1974. Includes 13 previously unreleased recordings. Seven tracks are drawn from first generation "off-air" recordings and the rest are all from original BBC transcription tapes. Includes Bright Morning Stars/ Willow Pattern/ Darling Belle/ The Old Buccaneer/ Fine Fingered Hands/ Empty Pocket Blues/ Theta/ Oh Did I Love A Dream/ Dreams Of No Return/ Log Cabin Home In the Sky/ Ring Dance, etc.

 
IRELAND RON KAVANA Primo 6015 Irish Songs Of Rebellion, Resistance And Reconciliation $11.98
Two CDs, 37 tracks, very good
Ron Kavana has flitted between contemporary rock sounds and traditional Irish and this set of recordings from 1998 is in the latter vein. Accompanied by a group of acoustic musicians (guitar, fiddle, pipes, banjo, etc) he performs a set of traditional songs along with a few more recent compositions including his own beautiful and moving Reconciliation. Unfortunately the final result is not completely satisfying - Ron's gruff voice is probably best suited to rock oriented music and in attempting to attenuate his voice to better suite traditional music he has ended up sounding rather bland and bored. It doesn't help that the recording (or mastering) has a distant muffled sound. There are some wonderful songs here and the arrangements are fine - it just isn't as compelling as it could be. (FS)

 
FRANCE MALICORNE Acousteak 082300 Vox $17.98
17 tracks, 41 mins, essential
Back in stock in limited quantities. A collection of the best of the best live and studio a cappella (pretty much) performances from this most wonderful group of artists. Oh those vocals! Gabriel Yacoub's gritty soulful tenor was counterpointed by wife Marie's delicate soprano to great effect and the ensemble vocals feature a polyphony of incredible richness capturing at times the feel of a Gregorian chant. Faves from their albums 1975-81 are here - Nous Sommes Chanteurs De Sornettes/ Marions Les Roses/ Margot/ Salut A La Compagnie/ La Conduite and more, featuring Marie, Gabriel, Hughes Decourson, Laurent Vercambre, Olivier Zdrzalik-Kowalski, aand others. As bonus we have a new solo recording by Gabriel on the beautiful Les Filles Sont Volages and a remixed version Marions Les Roses. This compilation is the best possible way to present just what these singers could do tous ensemble. Thanks to Nikki Matheson for putting it together, and to Boucherie for getting it to sound so great. (NSN/ FS)

 
IRELAND CHRISTY MOORE EastWest 40150-2 The Time Has Come $11.98
14 tracks, recommended
Budget reissue of 1983 album by this fine Irish singer features a selection of traditional and contemporary songs. Produced by Christy and Donal Lunny - the latter playing most of the instruments here as well as backup vocals. There are also additional backup vocals from Mandy Murphy. A number of songs are remakes of songs he had recorded previously including the beautiful Nancy Spain which was hit for Christy in the 70s. Other songs include The Knock Song/ lanigans Ball/ Lakes Of Pontchartrain/ The Wicklow Boy/ Go Move Shift/ Sacco & Vanzetti/ Only Our Rivers Run Free, etc. (FS)

 
AMERICAN FOLK

TOM PAXTON Shout Factory 10085 Live At McCabes Guitar Shop, February 23, 1991 $13.98
18 tracks, 68 min., highly recommended
Live from the little room at Santa Monica's celebrated guitar shop, Paxton plays his earliest hits (Ramblin' Boy) and numbers only weeks old (If I Pass This Way Again). Forrest Lawn shows off a sense of humor in a style reminiscent of, say, Loudon Wainwright III. In fact, wit prevails in My Last Love Long, I Am Changing My Name To Chrysler, Yuppies In The Sky, One Million Lawyers, and The Ballad Of Gary Hart, but the sincerity of love shines through in Home To Me (Is Anywhere You Are. And yet the bittersweet When Annie Took Me Home is worth the whole lot. A singer-songwriter with a rare talent and integrity to spare, Paxton sounds more comfortable onstage that most people are off. They don't make guys like Paxton anymore. (JC)

 
ENGLAND PENTANGLE Castle CMXBX 664 The Time Has Come $54.98
The most in depth look yet at the classic years of this great British folk group. In 1967 John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, Jacqui McShee, Danny Thompson, and Terry Cox got together as Pentangle producing music that was a blend of traditional English folk music, jazz, blues and Eastern music elements and changing British folk music forever. This four CD set features the best tracks from their six albums along with singles and B-sides and 20 previously unissued tracks including a track from their first recording session, live concert and TV performances, outtakes from "The Pentangle" and "Reflections" albums, BBC radio session tracks in stereo for the first time and rare film soundtrack recordings. All tracks have been newly remastered and set comes in book format with 60 page, full color, booklet with extensive notes by Pentangle historian Colin Harper and London Times rock critic Peter Paphides.

 
AMERICAN FOLK

PEGGY SEEGER Appleseed 1100 Three Score And Ten $18.98
Two CDs, 28 tracks, highly recommended
 A live concert in tribute to the life and music of this great American folk performer on the occasion of her 70th birthday. The concert was held in England where she spent a good part of her life when married to Ewan MacColl and she is joined here by a collection of family and friends including her children Calum, Kitty & Neill MacCol, her brothers Mike and Pete and friends like Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy, Norma Waterson, Billy Bragg and others. Peggy performs a selection of traditional songs, original songs, poems for Ewan, her partner Irene Pyper-Scott and her mother as well as singing Ewan's First Time Ever I Saw Your Face which he wrote for her and some others as well featuring performances by her guests. Musical performances are occasionally a bit ragged but the love and enthusiasm for this iconic performer comes throug loud and clear. (FS)

 
BRITTANY ALAN STIVELL Dreyfus 36883 Renaissance De La Harpe Celtique/ Olympia Concert $31.98
Two CDs, 27 tracks, highly recommended
Two CDs packaged in a box featuring two of the earliest albums recorded in 1972 by the leading exponent in the revival of interest in traditional Breton music. "Renaissance" features a wide range of traditional and original music performed on the Celtic harp which was built by Stivell's father. Accompaniment ranges from none to a whole orchestra! "olmpia Concert" came out the same year and features a blend of Irish and Breton folk music with restrained but progressive rock elements. Stivell is accompanied by a ten piece band including Dan Ar Bras on electric guitar, Gabriel Yacounb on acoustic guitar, dulcimer and banjo, REne Werneer on fiddle, Pascal Stive on organ and others. (FS)

 
FOLK JUNE TABOR Topic TSCD 568 Apples $16.98
The latest from one of Britain's finest singers features a selection of 12 songs - mostly traditional along with more recent compositions from Andy Shanks & Jim Russel, Lester Simpson and others and includes a couple of lovely French songs. She is accompanied by a trio of top class musicians with Andy Cuttin/ accordion, Marl Emerson/ piano, violin & vila and Tim Harries/ double bass. Includes The Dancing/ The Auld Beggarman/ I Love My Love/ Au Logis De Mon Pere/ Ce Fu En Mai/ Send Us A Quiet Night and more.

 
AMERICAN FOLK TOWNES VAN ZANDT Charly SNAD 508 Live At The Old Quarter $17.98
2 CDs, 27 tracks, 92 mins, highly recommended
Charley has done right by the Towns Van Zandt catalog time and again now, and with this, his live LP Recorded July of 1973, the high standards are there and then some. Originally this LP was released in 1977 on Tomato records, and has all of the original tracks and then some. The show finds Towns Van Zandt in fine form and spirits, playing from his varied repartee and telling jokes and stories in-between, doing his best Bob Dylan impersonation/satire on the hilarious Fraternity Blues only to settle the crowd down with his best Towns Van Zandt impersonation on If I Needed You with his heart laid open bare on the stage. This stands up with any releases in Van Zandt's catalog and is easily essential for any fan. The majority of these tracks have been released in different versions multiple times over the years, but there is no escaping the charm and intimacy captured here. When you hear the breath of a great poet between verse and chorus, sang to about 100 people, you know that you have something special. How special? Austin, 1984: Towns Van Zandt was scheduled to play a gig that he couldn't make because he had broke his arm. The club announced that to the crowd, put this record on and not a single person left or asked for their money back. That's the caliber of this record. (JM)

 
AMERICAN FOLK

TOWNES VAN ZANDT Fat Possum 1083 Townes Van Zandt $14.98
10 tracks, highly recommended
Fat Possum has acquired the rights to the catalog of the brilliant singer/ songwriter/ poet Townes Van Zandt and has started with four of his early albums originally issued on Poppy and Tomato. This is his third album issued on Poppy 40007 in 1969 and features 10 beautiful and stark songs with Townes primarily accompanied by his fine fingerpiced acoustic guitar with discreet bass, drums, Dobro and harmonica appearing from time to time. Includes For The Sake Of A Song/ Waitin' 'Round To Die/ Colorado Girl/ I'll Be Here In The Morning/ (Quicksilver Daydreams Of) Maria and others. Unfortunately presentation of this first batch is bare bones with no notes or any of the bonus tracks that were on some import releases. (FS)

 
AMERICAN FOLK

TOWNES VAN ZANDT Fat Possum 1088 Delta Momma Blues $14.98
Townes' fourth album (Poppy 40012) originally issued in 1970 includes the title song plus FFV/ Only Hime Or Me/ Tower Song/ Brand New Companion/ Rake, etc.

 
AMERICAN FOLK

TOWNES VAN ZANDT Fat Possum 1090 Our Mother The Mountain $14.98
11 tracks, highly recommended
His second album (Poppy 40004) from 1969. It's both lyrically and melodically rich and the imagery is not as stark as evidenced on "Delta Momma Blues" or "Townes Van Zandt." There is some orchestration scattered here and there with incidental piano thrown in. His writing and singing is characterized by a feeling of something ominous, dark and foreboding lurking around the next corner. But his music isn't depressing. A definite trace of blues sentiments and textures are part of Townes's plaintive vocal style. Jack Clement's production values are a real bonus, he surrounds each song with just the right amount of accompaniment. (SG)

 
AMERICAN FOLK

TOWNES VAN ZANDT Fat Possum 1091 Flyin' Shoes $14.98
10 tracks, 33 min, highly recommended
Originally issued as Tomato 7017 in 1978 recorded after a five year hiatus from recording finds Townes in great form with nine superb new original songs plus an unexpected but very effective cover of Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love. Unlike the stark arrangements of his earlier albums this has tasteful country rock arrangements featuring such stellar musicians and backup vocalists as Chip Moman, Phillip Donnelly, Randy Scruggs, Jimmy Day, Spooner Oldham and others. Highlights are the sublime title song, the catchy Loretta and the beautifully crafted When She Don't Need Me but they're all good. (FS)

 
AMERICAN FOLK VARIOUS ARTISTS Takoma 30048 Revenge Of Blind Joe Death - John Fahey Tribute Album $18.98
20 tracks, 72 min., recommended
A Fahey tribute delivered by his associates, friends and disciples, most covering Fahey originals, some rendering Fahey-inspired versions of traditional songs, and still others, such as Alex de Grassi, performing their own compositions, directly or tangentially associated with our man. Like much of the late Fahey's work, many of the selections feature blues-grounded steel guitar. Performers include technician extraordinaire Phil Kellogg, Henry Kaiser, Country Joe McDonald, Stephan Grossman, Canned Fish, Elliot Sharp, Rick Ruskin, Dale Miller, Terry Robb, Sean Smith, and others. The last track purports to be the lone surviving 78 rpm (side "b" at that) of the mysterious 1920s bluesman Blind Joe Death, although one suspects Fahey's friends are perpetuating a hoax he got a lot of milage from. You decide. (JC)

 
AMERICAN FOLK THE WEAVERS Rev-Ola 202 Hard, Ain't It Hard $15.98
20 tracks, 59 min., recommended
Long before the Office Of Homeland Security made America safer by eavesdropping on phone calls and muscling librarians for lists of people who check out suspicious books, the FBI and Senator McCarthy were busy keeping America safe from subversives and communist sympathizers. The Weavers, of course, were both, and eventually paid for their political leanings with loss of popularity. Before that, they were extremely popular across the country, singing folk songs that seem fairly tame by today's standards. In fact, Pete Seeger et al consciously tried to stay away from the more left-leaning material, a move that earned The Weavers the contempt of their original audience and general acceptance. Their arrangements moved away from simple folk music to orchestral arrangements. As a companion piece to Rev-Ola's Carnegie Hall CD, this greatest hit collection encapsulates the interesting and sometimes troubled career of one of the most influential folk groups ever. Tracks include Goodnight Irene, On Top Of Old Smoky, Wimoweh, Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, Old Paint, Greensleeves, Rock Island Line, Midnight Special and others. A nice one-disc overview. (JC)

 
 

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