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NEWSLETTER #147
Folk Music - American, British Isles, etc.
Fairport Convention ->
The Watersons + DVD

 

 

NEW DVD

 

IRELAND VARIOUS ARTISTS RTE 113 Come West Along The Road 2 $29.98
A second collection of live Irish music drawn from the extensive archives of RTE, the Irish national broadcaster. There are 52 performances featuring older traditional performers as well as the younger generation. The 52 clips, totalling 2 1/2 hours of music were recorded between 1961 and 1989 - some in black & white and some in color. Among the many performers are Mary Brogan, Kevin Burke, Bobby & Peggy Clancy, Liz King, Maighread Ni Dhomnaill, Reel Union, Ormond Ceilidh Band, Jospehine Keegan, Andy Irvins, Paul Brady & Donal Lunny, Horslips, Martin Reidy, The Dubliuners, Planxty, Fred Finn & peter Horan, Arty McGlynn, Packie Russel & Marcus Walsh, The Kilfenora Ceili Band and many others.

 

NEW COMPACT DISCS

 
ENGLAND FAIRPORT CONVENTION Island 530 111-1 Liege & Lief - Deluxe Edition $38.98
2 CDs, 17 tracks, 89 mins, highly recommended
This is the 35th anniversary repackaging, i.e. nothing that hasn't been out before, but the original album and a bunch of bonus tracks all in one attractive package with extensive & informative notes. On a personal stylistic note, one of my favorite record label designs of all time was the old Island labels with the solid pink background and the lower case I in fat lettering, which to my delight is reproduced in all its glory on both CDs. Bonus cuts are studio out-takes and BBC sessions from around the same time with the same classic line up, providing us with quality extra takes on Tam Lin/ The Ballad of Easy Rider, a couple versions of Sir Patrick Spens etc. (JM)
 FAIRPORT CONVENTION: Come All Ye/ Crazy Man Michael/ Farewell, Farewell/ Matty Groves/ Medley (The Lady Is A Tramp-In Other Words (Fly Me To The Moon))( (BBC Sessi/ Medley(The Lark In The Morning-Rakish Paddy-Foxhunter's Jig-Toss The Feathe/ Medley: (The Lark In The Morning, etc.)(BBC Session Top Gear 1969)/ Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood (Take 1)/ Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood (Take 4)/ Reynardine/ Reynardine (BBC Session Top Gear 1969)/ Sir Patrick Spens (BBC Session Top Gear 1969)/ Sir Patrick Spens (Sandy Denny Vocal Version)/ Tam Lin/ Tam Lin (BBC Session Top Gear 1975)/ The Ballad Of Easy Rider/ The Deserter

 
ENGLAND SUE HARRIS/ TUFTY SWIFT Free Reed 02 Hammers, Tongues & A Bakewell Tart $15.98
Reissue of two fine LPs originally issued on the Free Reed label in the late 70s. The first features singer and hammer dulcimer player Sue Harris, former wife of John Kirkpatrick, who appeared on some early key folk rock albums by The Albion Band, Richard & Linda Thompson and others. It's a mix of instrumentals and vocals, mostly traditional, featuring Sue in the company of musiciabs like Alan Harris (banjo, guitar & double bass), John Kirkpatrick (concertina & melodeon), Martin Brinsford (harmonica, tambourine and drummers novelty skulls!) and others. Tufty Swift was a superb singer and hammer dulcimer and melodeon player and is featured on a varied selection of mostly traditional songs and tunes with Alan Harris (banjo, double bass and banjo) and Sue Harris (hammer dulcimer and oboe).

 
AMERICAN JIM KWESKIN Collectables 7668 Garden Of Joy/ Jim Kweskin's America $14.98
2 CDs, 22 tracks, 84 mins, recommended These are re-issues of Jim Kweskin and his Jug Band's LPs on Reprise records, "Garden of Joy" from 1967 and "America" from 1971. While "Garden Of Joy" is field-Hippy freak out jug music, ragtime throwbacks and folksy fun, "America" is a much more expansive concept, bringing in a wide variety of instruments, including some fierce Tuba playing and saluting the American Country music songbook. On "Garden" you get Leadbelly, Johnny Mercer and Duke Ellington covers mixed in with tunes like The Circus Song and The Sheik Of Araby. America brings you standards such as Back In The Saddle/ Okie From Muskogee/ Old Rugged Cross, and my favorite track, Merle Travis' Dark As A Dungeon. Standard collectables re-issue with above-average sound and minimal notes. (JM)

 
SCOTLAND EWAN MACCOLL Reactive Masters 514 The Legend Of Ewan MacColl $10.98
18 tracks, highly recommended
Fine collection of songs recorded for Cooking Vinyl in the 80s by one of the most important (and often controversial) artists in the development of the British folk revival and help give it it's political edge. It includes original compositions - many which were originally written and sung in the 60s and have become folk standards plus some newly written songs along with a few traditional pieces. Arrangements are varied - acapella, guitar or banjo accompaniment by his wife Peggy Seeger or a small group including their childeren Calum,, Neill, Kirsty and Hamish MacColl. Includes Dirty Old Town/ The Foggy Dew/ Ballad of Accounting/ The Press Gang/ The Maid Gaed Tae The Mill/ Nobody Knew She was There/ Econic Miracle/ Rogues Gallery/ The Shoales Of herring, etc. An invaluable and inexpensive introduction to this fine and important artist. (FS)

 
EUROPE MOZAIK Compass 4468 Changing Trains $15.98
10 tracks, highly recommended
Terrific new album by this outstanding multi-national folk group featuring legendary Irish musicians Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny, American guitarist & fiddler Bruce Molsky, Dutch guitarist Ren van der Zalm and Hungarian multi instrumentalist Nikola Parov. The blend of nations provides a richly textured and original sound and though I'm not always fond of multi cultural collaborations these folks get it right with effortless and always appropriate transitions between musical styles. There are five vocals by Andy whose voice seems to have lost none of the power, beauty and expressiveness that it had 35 years ago when his career was first starting, two by Bruce and Molsky and one by Donal. I don't think Donal has taken lead vocal very often but his performance of the Gaelic song Siun Ni Dhuibhir is a real gem. (FS)

 
IRELAND DELIA MURPHY EMI (Ireland) 1055 The Legendary Delia Murphy - The Spinning Wheel $19.98
14 tracks, highly recommended
Delia Murphy from Co. Mayo was from a wealthy family and had a university education but she had a real love and affinity for traditional Irish songs and recorded quite extensively in the 30s and was immensely popular and introduced many fine and obscure songs to her audience. I'm not sure when these tracks were recorded - sound quality indicates that they are later recordings but whenever they are from they are very fine and features some of her most popular songs like Three Lovely Lassies/ The Spinning Wheel and If I Were A Blackbirds. Accompaniments range from solo accordion or piano to a small ceilidh band. Other songs include I Was Told By My Aunt/ Roving Journeyman/ Thank You Ma'am Says Dan/ Down By The Glenside/ Courtin' In The Kitchen/ Goodbye Mike And Goodbye Pat and others. Truly delightful music. (FS)

 
IRELAND PATRICK STREET Loftus 002 On The Fly $14.98
Lovely new album from this long lived Irish group which has undergone personnell changes but still includes founder members Andy Irvine and Kevin Burke along with Ged Foley (the non Irishman here) on guitar & vocal and John Carty on fiddle, flute and banjo. Former Patrick Street member Jackie Daly guests on accordion on two tracks. A fine collection of traditional songs and tunes.

 
AMERICAN PAUL ROBESON Rev-Ola 208 The Man They Couldn't Silence $15.98
28 tracks, 80 min., recommended
Robeson, the son of an escaped slave, became an outspoken advocate of civil rights long before most Americans had ever heard Martin Luther King. For his trouble and his other unpopular political views (especially concerning the former Soviet Union) his government set about destroying his music and acting career. In 1950 be was officially banned from television, the first American to receive such treatment. Long before that the U.S. government had taken away his passport. Although the source of these recordings is nowhere to be found, they seem (at least many of them) to be from the 1926-39 period, and include Summertime, Deep River, Mood Indigo, Lazy Bones, Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho, Rockin' Chair, Killing Song, Short'nin' Bread and many others, all featuring the richest bass-baritone imaginable. This release offers a nice selection of material and a long running time, allowing for a fuller appreciation of Robeson's considerable talent, even if the booklet notes fall well short of fascinating. (JC)

 
ENGLAND STEELEYE SPAN Park 91 Bloody Men $19.98
2 CDs, 15 tracks, 63 min., recommended
The traditional songs are as often as not given a musically modern twist, as the power chords on Bonny Black Hare demonstrate. And for a traditional song, the lyric is short on subtlety ("I pulled out my ramrod") and the puns (hare/hair) remind one of 16th century middle schoolers. And then the original Ken Nicol/ Maddy Prior song The Dreamer & The Widow (also about the sexual exploits of wandering young men and the women who love them), sounds 400 years old. The second disc is a five-track, 16-minute true fictional history of the Luddite movement in 19th century England. That old warhorse. Still, anything with Maddy Prior is worth hearing, and this release is full of gorgeous moments. Whummil Bore houses several, as does Lord Gregory. But Peter Knight's song about his wrist watch winds up as too precious. (JC)

 
IRELAND VARIOUS ARTISTS Old Time Records 101 Old Time REcords, Vol. 1 - U.S. Recordings $23.98
21 tracks, 66 mins, highly recommended
Delightful collection of Irish-American music recorded between 1920 and 1939. Most of these tracks have never been reissued before on LP or CD and it includes performances by Louis E. Quinn & His Shamrock Minstrels, The Flanagan Brothers, Martin Beirne & His Orchestra, James Darcy & John Mulvihill, James Morrison, Paddy Killoran, Hugh Gillespie, Frank Quinn, O'Leary's Irish Minstrels and others. Sound quality is superb and 12 page booklet has notes and discographical details for all the performances. (FS)

 
CELTIC VARIOUS ARTISTS Wagram 3131032 Celtic Music $28.98
Two CD set with 36 tracks. A varied collection of Celtic music - about 2/3 of it from Bittany and the rest from Ireland and Scotland. Most of the recordings are from the last five years along with a few older titles. Traditional and contemporary songs and tunes from Alan Stivell, Arvest, La Lugh, Deanta, Yann Raoul, The Dubliners, Denez Prigent, Sinead O'Connor, Meav, Dan Ar Braz, Patrick Street, Gayane, Les Nouveaux Heros, etc.

 
ENGLAND THE WATERSONS Topic TSCD 564 Sound, Sound Your Instruments Of Joy $14.98
14 tracks, essential
Newly repackaged reissue of one of THE great albums of the British folk revival. The Watersons were England's greatest acapella group and this is one of their very finest albums (not that anything they recorded was less than superb). Mike, Norma and Lal Waterson together with Norma's husband Martin Carthy perform a selection of 14 religious oriented songs drawing on rare English and American songs - wassail songs, vernacular carols, meeting house hymns, Sacred Harp and more. Perfomances are stunning with glorious harmonies as well as interplay between the individual voices. Songs include God Bless The Master/ Windham/ Christian's Hope/ Emmanuel/ Sound, Sound Your Instruments Of Joy/ Green Fields/ Morning Trumpet and others. Disc is packaged in digipack with 16 page booklet with endlessly informative notes by A.L. Lloyd and full lyric transcripts. Whatever your religious persuasion you can't help but be moved by these magnificent performances. (FS)

 

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