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NEWSLETTER #14 8
Folk Music - American, British Isles, etc.
The Battlefield Band ->
Various Artists + DVD S

 

 

NEW DVD

 

ENGLAND FAIRPORT CONVENTION & MATTHEWS SOUTHERN COMFORT Voiceprint 105 Maidstone 1970 $16.98
32 mins + 15 minute interview, highly recommended
What a delight - a recently discovered film of Fairport Convention performing live at a charity event in Maidstone, England in 1970. This is Fairport shortly after Sandy Denny left featuring the stellar lineup of Richard Thompson, Dave Swarbrick, Dave Pegg and Dave Mattack s . The set is fairly short (wedged between a trained chimpanzee act and an army helicopter display) but the gorup is in top form doing three hot instrumental sets and superb performances of the songs Sir Patrick Spens and Now be Thankful. There are also two songs from Matthews Southern Comfort -a group led by former Fai r porter Iain Matthews. The film was shot professionally with excellent cinematography and sound. There is a bonus and very interesting 15 minute interview with the film director, Tony Palmer who has directed a number of films about music including the famed BBC series "All You Need Is Love" which has just been made available on DVD. (FS)

 
MISCELLANEOUS VARIOUS ARTISTS David 6 Lomax - The Songhunter $17.98
Documentary about Alan Lomax made by Dutch filmmaker Rogier Kappers. Kappers travels throughout Europe visiting the places that Lomax made field recordings in the 60s and meets some of the people Lomax recorded who are still alive and some still able to perform as well as interviewing some of Lomax's collaborators during this period (Peter Kennedy, Shirley Collins, etc). Kappers visits Lomax shortly before his death and though unable to speak as a result of his brain hemorrhage Lomax is clearly delighted in listening to some of the recordings he has made. The film also includes a few pieces of fascinating archival footage.

 

NEW COMPACT DISCS

 
SCOTLAND THE BATTLEFIELD BAND Temple 2052 Stand Easy & Preview $15.98
15 tracks, 52 mins, highly recommended
Available again. This outstanding CD features recordings by this top Scotish band featuring all of their "Stand Easy" LP for Topic from 1979 and their 4 track EP "Preview" recorded for Robin Morton's Temple label in 1980. The group have been with Temple ever since. For the "Stand Easy" album the group changed their name briefly to "Battlefield," lost Jamie McMenemy and Pat Kilbride and added Jenny Clark/vocal, guitar, dulcimer, cittern and whistle and Duncan McGillivray/ highland pipes, whistle, mouth organ and guitar. Alan Reid had started adding synthesizers to his keyboards and the interplay between pipes and synthesizer is very effective. Jenny Clark's vocals, which were only featured on this album, were excelent - the harmony vocals on Christ Has My Heart Ay are particularly fine. By the time of "Preview" the band had changed again - Jenny Clark left and Sylvia and Jim Barnes were added - Sylvia's vocals on Rantin' Rovin' Robin are lovely. Excellent music (mostly traditional) from beginning to end. (FS)

 
SCOTLAND THE BATTLEFIELD BAND Temple 2055 The Battlefield Band $14.98
11 tracks, essential
Available again. Reissue of the first Topic album from 1977 of this fabulous SCottish band who are still going strong more than 30 years later - albeit with only one of the original members - Alan Reid whose sesnsitive pedal organ playing has given the band part of its unique sound. Joining Alan are muilti-instrumentalist and vocalist Brian MacNeil, vocalist and cittern player Jamie McEnemy and whistle and concertina player John Gahagan. Most of the vocals are by Jamie who was certainly one of the finest Scottish singers to emerge in the 70s. His performances of the Archie Fisher/ Norman Buchan song The Shipyard Apprentice and the traditional The Cruel Brothers are among the highlights here. There are also a couple of vocals from Alan including the exquisite It Was All For Our Rightful King sung to a stunningly beautiful tune collected by Robert Burns. The instrumental sets are performed with skill and sensitivity and a remarkable empathy. This is Scottish music at its very finest. (FS)

 
SCOTLAND THE BATTLEFIELD BAND Temple 2056 At The Front $14.98
12 tracks, essential
Available again. Reissue of the band's second Topic album from 1978. John Gahagan has left and is replaced by the superb Irish singer, guitarist and cittern player who brings some Irish songs into the band's repertoire. A superb collection of traditional Scottish and Irish songs and tunes with magnificent singing and playing throughout. Among the highlights is the utterly exquisite instrumental Ge Do Theid Mi Do M'leabaidh - a Gaelic air based on a song that has one of those mournful Scottish melodies that is sure to send a shiver down your spine. The most impressive songs are Tamosher and the truly wonderful Lang Johnnie Moir - a traditional ballad about a legendary Scottish giant that Pat has reduced from an unwieldy fifty verses to nineteen verses. But it's all great and an essential addition to any collection of folk music from the British Isles. (FS)

 
FRANCE LES COSTAUDS DE LA LUNE Buda 1989382 France: Musique D'Auverge $15.98
A lovely collection of mostly instrumental traditional music from the Auvergne region of France by trio of musicians playing banjo, guitar, cabrette (bagpipes from Auvergne), violin and accordeon with occasional percussion. Includes 20 page illustrated booklet with notes in French and English discussing the historical background and a discussion of all the tunes.

 
E NGLAND ROBIN & BARRY DRANSFIELD Free Reed 07 Even More ... Popular To Contrary Belief $15.98
21 tracks, 78 mins, essential
The first 14 tracks of this incredible CD reissues the duos superb 1977 Free Reed album "Popular To Contrary Belief" and the remaining tracks features live tracks, out-takes and demos for their folk-rock album "The Fiddler's Dream." Robin (vocal and guitar) and Barry Dransfield (vocal and fiddle) were among the brightest lights of the British folk revieval of the 70s - individually superb singers and musicians their duo work reveals breathtaking harmonies and the kind of instrumental empathy that one hears in members of the same family. They only recorded three acoustic albums and two of them are in the clutches of a company who refuses to reissue them so this wonderful album is particularly welcome. The original album is a collection of traditional songs along with a couple of intrumental pieces and one gem after another opening with the jaunty The Tacahuano Girls and includes such beautiful love ballads as Bogie's Bonnie Belle/ Peggy Gordon and one of my all time favorite songs, the utterly sublime The Holmfirth Anthem. BUt it's all maginificent. Their folk-rock album "Fiddler's Dream" found them performing all original songs though traditiona music was never very far away and the performances here of songs like Up To Now/ It's Dark In Here and the chilling The Ballad Of Dickie Lubber are mezmerizing. This release is absolutely indispensible for lovers of English folk music. (FS)

 
ENGLAND ROBIN DRANSFIELD Hux 097 A Lighter Touch $27.98
Two CDs, 25 tracks, very highly recommended
Fabulous two CD set featuring this brilliant English folk singer and guitarist best known for his work with his brother Barry in the 70s. They recorded some fabulous albums together, made a stab at folk rock, recorded solo albums and separated in the early 80s and pursued other occupations though usually involved with music. Barry returned to recording with three superb albums in the 90s. The first CD here is a reissue of Robin's only solo LP "Tidewave" issued by Topic in 1980 though recorded over a period of several years. The album is a fabulous mixture of traditional and contemporary songs with beautiful melodic vocals from Robin along with brilliant guitar wotk. He is joined by several other musicians on various tracks including brother Barry on cello, Christian Gourhan who plays hurdy gurdy on the eerie Cutty Wren, Lea Nicholson on concertina, Chris Stearn on bass trombone and euphonium whose creation of a brass section on Robin's spine chilling rendition of Spencer The Rover is possibly the highlight of the album and alone worth the price. The second disc features a never before issued live solo set by Robin from 1972 and features superb performances of traditional and contemporaryt songs drawn from his two albums with Barry and his, yet to be recorded solo album. Songs include Faithful Johnny/ Cold Blow & A Rainy Night/ Still He Sings/ Adam & The Beasts/ The Rigs O'Rye/ Tidewave and others. Although there is occasional flutter on the 35 year old tape the sound quality is generally excellent and is a vaulable addition to Robin's all too small discography. The set includes a 20 page booklet with autobiographical notes from Robin, great vintage photos including one from 1962 wen Robin was in a bluegrass band and notes on all the songs. An indispensible release and my apologies for previously listing it as by Barry Dransfield! (FS)

 
ENGLAND FAIRPORT CONVENTION Island (UK) 530 829-0 The Best Of The BBC Recordings $19.98
16 tracks, 66 mins, highly recommended
For those of you un-inclined to make the commitment to the 4 CD box set of this material (Island 984 538-5 - $65.98), we now have available a tasty sampling from these fantastic sessions. This release is billed as the best of the box set, and having heard the whole set myself I am inclined to agree, although I do recommend picking up the full set if you are a big Fairport fan. This does provide great takes on classics like Meet On The Ledge/ Who Knows Where The Time Goes/ Fotheringay/ Down In The Flood, etc. Probably my favorite is the epic version from 1969 of Tam Lin. All tracks were recorded between 1968 and 1974 and are presented in chronological order, with most taking place 1970 or before. Most of the sessions were with the mighty John Peel. Booklet features a sampling of the pictures from the 4 CD set and session information for all of the tracks that are on this CD. (JM)

 
FRANCE GENTIANE Music & Words 4013 Musique D'Auvergne $15.98
12 tracks, 37 mins, highly recommended
Available again at a much lower price. Reissue of terrific album originally issued on the French Cezame label in the early 704. The group featured some of the top musicians in France like Jean Blanchard/ diatonic accordion, violin, mandolin, vocals and cowbell, Bernard Blanc/ cabrette, hurdy gurdy and cowbell, Emmanuelle Parrenin/vocals, hurdy gurdy & dulcimer, Philllippe Fromont/ violin & viola, Gerard Lavigne/ Fender bass and Dennis Gasser/ piano & gasser. They perform muisc and songs from the Auvergne region of France. Their performances feature carefully thought out but unfussy arrangements. This reissue features a booklet with notes and lyrics in French and English. very nice! (FS)

 
IRELAND ANDY IRVINE & PAUL BRADY Mulligan (US) 3008 Andy Irvine & Paul Brady $17.98
10 tracks, essential
All time folk classic back in print. This 1976 record is a superb pairing of two of Ireland's finest vocalists and instrumentalisys on 10, mostly traditional, songs and tunes. There are 5 vocals by Andy, 3 by Paul and a couple of instrumental sets. The playing is superb featuring Paul on guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, whistle, cittern, harmonium and Andy on bouzouki, mandolin, hurdy gurdy, harmonica and mandola! On some tracks they are joined by Donal Lunny on bouzouki, bodhran or guitar and Kevin Burke adds some tasteful fiddle work. There is one classic song after another including Andy's driving Plains Of Kildare, his mournful Bonny Woodhall, Paul's chilling solo performance of Arthur McBride and the jaunty Mary And The Soldier but it's all magnificent and essential for any collection of Irish music. (FS)

 
IRELAND MATT MOLLOY Mulligan (US) 3004 Matt Molloy $17.98
15 tracks, essential
Another Irish folk classic back in rint. Absolutely brilliant debut album from 1976 by this brilliant flute player from Co. Roscommon who subsequely became a key member of The Bothy Band, Planxty and The Chieftains. Molloy is a dazzling musician with incredible breath control and impeccable fingering but his playing is also full of warmth and sensitivity resulting in truly beautiful music. He is accompanied on this collection of mostly reels and jigs by Donal Lunny on guitar and bouzouki and Lunny's playing perfectly underpins that of Molloy. Magnificent stuff. (FS)

 
AMERICAN TOM PAXTON Collectables 6969 Ain't That News! $11.98
14 tracks, 38 min., highly recommended
Straight reissue of Paxton's 1965 LP (his second, if you don't count the "privately issued one"), originally released by Elektra as EKS-7298 and available a few years ago with "Ramblin' Boy" (his first) in a twofer Rhino Records edition. Interesting how back then, if Paxton's songs are any indication, regular people involved themselves in protesting injustice, cared enough about ending an undeclared war to actually do something about it. Go figure. Then again, We Didn't Know, which takes apathy and willing ignorance as its subjects, might have been written yesterday. Paxton was among the best of the folkies at this, better surely than Dylan, who contrary to common understanding wrote precious few actual protest songs. Paxton has always been a smart and biting lyrically (The Willing Conscript/ Ain't That News) without giving up the ability to wring tenderness from his guitar and voice (Hold On To Me Babe). That's why he still matters, still makes meaningful music. The popular Bottle Of Wine comes from this album, as does Buy A Gun For Your Son and I'm The Man That Built The Bridges. (JC)

 
ENGLAND PYEWACKETT Music & Words MWCD 4007 The Man In The Moon Drinks Claret $15.98
11 tracks, 39 mins., recommended
Available again at a much lower price. It's easy to see why this group was so popular. This 1982 album sparkles with a playful sense of fun, delivered by a skillful quartet who like to surprise. Hey We to the Other World starts off very trad English a capella but quickly devolves into a burlesque reggae stew that somehow suits it perfectly. Other tracks retain trad politeness while interwoven with singular invention. Pyewackett specialized in very old material which they made current and very much alive. Check out one of the jazziest versions of Tam Lin ever recorded, followed immediately by an entirely loopy Merry-go-round Broke Down. Weird and wonderful. Andy Cronshaw ably handled the highly-textured production. (DC)

 
SCOTLAND EMILY SMITH Spit & Polish 035 Too Long Away $16.98
10 tracks, highly recommended
First CD made available in the USA of one of the finest folk talents to emerge from Scotland in the past few years. Emily is a stunning vocalist and accompanies herself on accordion and piano. She is joined on many tracks by Jamie McClennan on fiddle or guitar, Ross Milligan and Duncan Lyall on double bass with occasional added musicians. The songs are a mix of traditional and contemporary - the latter mostly originals by Emily. Being an old fogey I prefer the traditional songs and her renditions of Caledonia and Bleacher Lassie o"Kelvinhaugh are well worth the price of admission. Although I don't find the contemporary songs quite as compelling there is no question that Come Home, Little Bird is a real beauty and Old Mortality, based on a true story, is very moving. (FS)

 
AMERICAN VARIOUS ARTISTS Ace CDCHD 1175 The Golden Age Of American Popular Music - The Folk Hit $18.98
28 tracks, 74 mins, recommended Don't settle for the K-tell, RonCo, or Time Life versions of Folk History; ya gotta dig this Ace records collection with the hits, almost hits, and all the info behind them. Sure, this is missing a few key artists of the folk movement -- Phil Ochs and some guy named Zimmerman to name a couple glaring examples -- but you do get Johnny Cash covering It Ain't Me Babe, possibly Cash's worst popular recording, so who am I to nit-pick? There are a ton of the hits that you would expect like The Kingston Trio with Tom Dooley/ Greenback Dollar, and Where Have all The Flowers Gone?, Joan Baez doing We Shall Over Come, Walk Right In by The Rooftop Singers, Don't Let The Rain Come Down by The Serendipity Singers, etc. Then you get some lesser known or hits that you almost forgot about like Michael by The Highwaymen, A Dollar Down by The Limeliters, There's a Meeting Here Tonight by Joe & Eddie, and the Fantastic Lizzie Borden by The Chad Mitchell Trio, The Unicorn by The Irish Rovers, and Pete Seeger doing Little Boxes. All in all, a lot of fun and a lot of memories. After you watch "A Mighty Wind" the next time, put this on and experience all of the real artists in their earnest glory. (JM)
JOAN BAEZ: We Shall Overcome/ THE BRANDYWINE SINGERS: Summer's Come And Gone/ THE BROTHERS FOUR: Greenfields/ BUD & TRAVIS: Ballad Of The Alamo/ JOHNNY CASH: It Ain't Me Babe/ GALE GARNETT: We'll Sing In The Sunshine/ THE GLENCOVES: Hootenanny/ THE GREENWOODS: Please Don't Sell My Daddy No More Wine/ THE HIGHWAYMEN: Cottonfields/ Michael/ THE IRISH ROVERS: The Unicorn/ JOE & EDDIE: There's A Meetin' Here Tonite/ THE KINGSTON TRIO: Greenback Dollar/ Reverend Mr. Black/ Tom Dooley/ Where Have All The Flowers Gone/ THE LIMELITERS: A Dollar Down/ THE CHAD MITCHELL TRIO: Lizzie Borden/ THE NEW CHRISTY MINSTRELS: Green Green/ PETER, PAUL & MARY: If I Had A Hammer/ THE ROOFTOP SINGERS: Tom Cat/ Walk Right In/ PETE SEEGER: Little Boxes/ THE SERENDIPITY SINGERS: Don't Let The Rain Come Down/ THE SHACKLEFORDS: A Stranger In Your Town/ THE SIMON SISTERS: Winkin', Blinkin' And Nod/ THE SPRINGFIELDS: Silver Threads And Golden Needles/ BILLY EDD WHEELER: Ode To A Little Brown Shack

 
AMERICAN VARIOUS ARTISTS Perpetual 63033 Women Folk - Iconic Women Of American Folk $12.98
20 tracks, 51 min., recommended Apparently drawn from various Tradition albums of the late 1950s and early 1960s, these tracks offer a pleasant sampling of five women of vastly different styles within the folk tradiitons. Odetta, Etta Baker, Barbara Dane, Jean Ritchie, and Carolyn Hester go by turns (in that order) for four rounds, thus each women gets four tracks. A long-time proponent of Appalachian folk music, Ritchie, with the help of her autoharp and plaintive, piecing vocals, has influenced countless folk and country singers alike. And like Odetta, Ritchie still performs several shows yearly. Baker's selections are all worthy solo blues guitar numbers in the country blues Piedmont tradition. Dane, whose early work has seen reissue recently, represents a political, socially conscious folk music that became a mainstay in the 1960s. Hester gained a certain fame for being the first to offer Bob Dylan a chance to record in the studio and, like Dane, Pete Seeger, and others, remained a political singer. Her voice can be beautiful but is always fragile and often strays beyond its bounds, if ever so slightly. In all, a fine introduction to these pioneering folk artists. (JC)

 

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