Danny Thompson & Whatever – Elemental
This week Lucky Thirteen takes us the double album Whatever Next & Elemental from Danny Thompson & Whatever. Choosing a track based on favourites would have been a hard task as all the tracks are great – in my opinion. Choosing one on the basis of the title was easy. After Frances’s adventures in Mali, it could only be Major Escapade!
Even before instigating the Lucky Thirteen series, I usually managed to include a Danny Thompson track around this time on the basis that he had been spotted in the Transatlantic Sessions tv series. This year, Danny was again featured and was, it goes without saying, fantastic. Great music and great fun – he looked as if he was loving every minute. And who wouldn’t, when invited to play with some of the greats of folk and country music.
Oh, and by happy co-incidence, it was Danny Thompson’s birthday last week – many happy returns, Danny.
Danny Thompson & Whatever – Major Escapade
June Tabor – Against the Streams
Just a quick post before heading to collect Frances from Heathrow. She and her colleagues have managed to get a flight home from Bamako, 6 days before their scheduled flight. Today, with the situation worsening in Mali, the Foreign Office advised British subjects to leave Mali as soon as they could. We will be pleased to see Frances and her colleagues safely home and can do no more than hope that stability returns to Mali soon.
I’ll return to the Lucky Thirteen series with a track from June Tabor’s Against the Streams album. The track I’m posting is Alistair Hulett’s He Fades Away. The song, especially performed by June Tabor, is an incredibly moving story of a miner dying of mesothelioma after working in an asbestos mine.
For those who don’t know, Alistair Hulett himself died of cancer in 2010. The Guardian, in his obituary described Hulett as: “an outspoken, staunchly leftwing singer and songwriter who built up a dedicated following in his native Scotland and in New Zealand and Australia, where he spent much of his life.”
June Tabor – He Fades Away
Martin Simson – Leaves of Life
Enough of Bamako, Lucky Thirteen takes us from the River Niger to The Banks of the Bann.
Today’s track, called The Banks of the Bann, is taken from Martin Simpson‘s 1989 CD Leaves of Life. In the sleeve notes, Martin tells us that “Leaves of Life is a collection of acoustic guitar pieces based on the melodies of traditional ballads and songs from England, Ireland, Scotland and Australia”. He says that all of the songs were learnt from singers and goes on to thank Dave Burland, Martin Carthy, Shirley Collins, Bobby Eaglesham, Dick Gaughan, Andy Irvine, Jessica Simpson, June Tabor and the Watersons “for their various inspirations”.
I’m not sure where Martin learnt this song, but it was certainly in the repertoire of Dick Gaughan so he may have been the inspiration. The album Leaves of Life is still readily available as a CD and also as an mp3 download. It is certainly recommended to all but especially to acoustic guitar fans. It is delightfully understated but, after only a couple of listens, the tunes get lodged in the mind. Earworms, quiet but compelling.
And for UK readers, Martin Simpson has a full schedule of concerts lined up for 2012, so drag yourselves away from the tv (you can always record the Transatlantic Sessions, The Only Way Is Essex etc.) and get out to see a gig.
Martin Simpson – The Banks of the Bann
June Tabor – Ashore
A quick post prior to going on holiday to sunny (so the weathermen promise us) Dorset. June Tabor with a slow and poignant version of the Elvis Costello song Shipbuilding. A protest song de nos jour!
June Tabor – Shipbuilding
Coope Boyes & Simpson – What We Sing is What We Are
Back with protest songs, this week we have Jerusalem Revisited by Coope Boyes & Simpson. The track originally comes from their album What We Sing is What We Are but it has been used on a number of compilation albums; I have it on the fRoots magazine’s free CD, fRoots #3.
The song was written by Jim Boyes and, as the name suggests, is a reworking of the William Blake poem set to music by Hubert Parry. Is it a protest song or is it just a political song? I don’t know but I love the song and the singing and, like the original, it has the power to stir.
Coope Boyes & Simpson – Jerusalem Revisited
Robb Johnson – All That Way For This
Okay. A mini series of protest songs. Starting with Robb Johnson – folk music’s best kept secret. How come no-one has heard of Robb Johnson? How come he is so seldom played on the radio? How come he is not considered a “national treasure”? It is a mystery to me.
Here are some quotes taken from his website:
“creator of some of the most potent songs of the last decade” – fRoots,
“Britain’s finest songwriter since Richard Thompson” – Venue
“love songs as touching as the political material is sharp.” – Red Pepper
“One of Britain’s most challenging songwriters.” – The Daily Telegraph
“his songs are incisive and clever and witty and you can sing them on your way to work.” – Boff, Chumbawamba
Red Pepper and the Daily Telegraph can’t both be wrong!
And apart from the songs – the show is great too. Robb Johnson is a fantastic musician and performer so go to the gigs if you get a chance and buy the CDs.
From Robb Johnson and the Irregulars CD All That Way For This here is Moron Land, a protest song about to rise of tabloid culture.
Robb Johnson – Moron Land
Brass Monkey – The Complete Brass Monkey
Tomorrow, Saturday 21st May 2011, is the 70th birthday of Martin Carthy. Happy birthday Martin – and thanks for all the music.
I heard him interviewed on Mike Harding’s show last week and from his voice, his enthusiasm, the projects he is currently involved in (including Brass Monkey) and his upcoming gigs it unbelievable that he has reached 70.
I don’t know why, but I am always fascinated about how economic activity works and I often wonder how much the likes of Martin Carthy would earn in a year from gigs, record sales, merchandise etc. I hope it is a great deal but I suspect it is not. Whatever he earns, he’s worth it (as someone once said) and probably shed-loads more.
(I have similar wonderings, if you can have wonderings, when I’m on holiday in some remote village in Italy. I usually visit the village bakery that opens for just a few hours in the morning, probably not even every morning, and I wonder how and why the enterprise keeps going.)
Back to the matter in hand – here’s Martin Carthy singing Sovay from the compilation CD of the first 2 Brass Monkey albums.
Brass Monkey – Sovay
The Ukranians – Kultura
I’m a bad person. A very bad person. But I console myself that there are plenty worse than me.
So after a hiatus of a week or two with no excuses, plausible or otherwise, I’m back with a track but not much spiel. I’m listening to The Cooking Vinyl – Sampler Volume 3 from 1994. And it is great fun.
For you, I’ve chosen, almost at random, Kievskiy Express singing The Ukrainians. And by chance, this year they are celebrating 21 years as a band. So enjoy this track, go buy a CD and / or catch an anniversary gig this summer – there’s one on Saturday.
The Ukrainians – Kievskiy Express
June Tabor – Ashore
My “newly acquired” mini series continues on account of a birthday and a couple of heavily dropped hints. And it is likely to be a chalk and cheese selection over the next couple of weeks. This week the sad, contemplative June Tabor and for two weeks after that (courtesy of a double album), the voice of lightness, Tabu Ley Rochereau.
So, from the brand new June Tabor CD Ashore, I’m posting her version of Cyril Tawney’s The Oggie Man. For those not of these shores, an oggie is a Cornish pasty (meat and potato pie). The song tells of a sailor bidding farewell to his love. She promises to be faithful and says that her love will last as long as the Oggie Man, a permanent fixture outside the dockyard gates.
Cyril Tawney wrote that the song “ought” to have another verse to tell the story of the sailor’s return to discover if the oggie man is still at his pitch and if his love has remained true. Tawney never wrote the third verse, preferring the listener to write their own version of the ending.
June Tabor – The Oggie Man
Danny Thompson & Whatever – Elemental
So, on to the final track of my mini Danny Thompson season. This week it is Beirut from the 1990 Danny Thompson & Whatever CD Elemental. I heard a track being described on Jazz Library recently being described as “the kind of music that you can love if you are a jazz fan but you can also love if you are not”. To me this perfectly describes Danny Thompson’s music on each of the 3 jazz albums I own. I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to this mini season and currently badgering your MP / influential friends to secure a knighthood (at least) for the man.
On a Danny Thompson related topic I have just caught up (rather belatedly) with the series of radio shows / podcasts that Joe Boyd has been making on the community radio station Resonance FM. In the first programme, Joe plays Swedish Dance from the Danny Thompson CD Whatever. He explains in the show that the tune was written in memory of Jan Johansson. (Johanson was a Swedish jazz pianist whose Jazz på svenska (Jazz in Swedish) CD sold more than a quarter of a million copies and is the best selling jazz release ever in Sweden. He died in November 1968 in a car crash on his way to a concert.)
I can certainty recommend these Joe Boyd radio shows / podcasts. Boyd is unquestionably one of the most important record producers of the 20th century, his choice of music for these shows is impeccable and his insight into the music and his reminiscences are fascinating. (One caveat – in the first show the sound volumes of the music and the chat in between are, inexplicably, out of balance. This is an irritant but only a minor one and certainly not a reason to miss out on the programme.)
I also plan to root around Resonance FM a bit more. I’m sure that there are treasures to be found here. Next week something entirely different – I’m just not sure what yet!
Danny Thompson & Whatever – Beirut