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Folk Music Of The British Isles & Europe

England

 Roy Bailey -> Dave Burland 

ROY BAILEY
LES BARKER
SALLY BARKER
PETER BELLAMY
BLUE MURDER
BLOWZABELLA
 
JIM BOYES
BILLY BRAGG
BRASS MONKEY
PAUL BRENNAN BAND
ANNE BRIGGS
 

 

ROY BAILEY Fuse CFCD 399 What You Do With What You've Got ● CD $15.98
15 tracks, 61 mins, essential
Roy Bailey is one of England's great musical treasures .This release is a best of collection featuring 14 tracks from various recordings made between 1975 and 1991 plus a live 1991 recording of Rolling Home. The songs featured are by some of our greatest topical songwriters including Leon Rosselson, Si Kahn, John Pole, Robb Johnson, Jack Warshaw, Fred Small and others. Roy also updates the traditional song Hard Times Of Old England. The arangements are varied ranging from the unaccompanied Patience Kershaw to a full electric band on Send Me Back To Georgia with the wonderful churning accordion of John Kirkpatrick. Other tracks feature the guitar of Martin Carthy, the hammered dulcimer of Fi Fraser and others. If you are already a Bailey fan you will have almost everything here. If you have not heard him before prepare yourself for one of the most eloquent voices in topical song. (FS)

 
ROY BAILEY Fuse CFCD 400 Business As Usual ● CD $15.98
14 tracks, 51 mins., recommended
Bailey is a folksinger's folksinger. As he says in the liner notes, these songs are all stories he wants to tell - stories by some of the best in the business. Robb Johnson penned 5 of the songs, including the opener Merrie Olde England with its anthemic line business as usual. With simple guitar accompaniment, Bailey leisurely leads us through songs by Bob Franke, James Keelaghan and Dylan that seem to demand that we sing along. Particularly nice is Leon Rosselson's love song Cobweb of Dreams with Val Bailey on harmonies the way the two sang it 25 years ago. Bailey sings of simple personal hardships and heartaches and love in a way that speaks warmly to audiences everywhere. This clear and sonorous production does him justice. No tricks here - just good songs. (DC)

 
ROY BAILEY Fuse CFCD 403 Past Masters ● CD $15.98
18 tracks, 75 mins, highly recommended. Roy has a knack of choosing songs that not only convey an important message but also are excellent songs. This collection is a fine retrospective drawn from 5 albums recorded between 1975 and 1988 that are not currently available on CD and includes John Conolly's Punch & Judy Man, Si Kahn's Curtains Of Old Joe's House, Violetta Parra's Gracias A La Vida, Geoff Pearson's War Without Bangs, Jim Woodland's Ghost Story and others. Beautiful singing from Roy and superb accompaniments from Martin Carthy, John Kirkpatrick, Sue Harris, Chris Leslie & others. (FS)

 
ROY BAILEYFuse CFCD 404 Coda ● CD $15.98
The newest from this superb English singer is to be his last as he had decided to retire after nearly 40 years of producing some superb performances of traditional and contemporary songs. This album features one traditional song (Brigg Fair) and 15 contemporary ones from the pens of Graham Morris, John Kirkpatrick, Karine Polwart, Richard Thompson, Jacques Brel, John Connolly, Ewan MacColl and others. Accompanying musicians include Karen Tweed, John Kirkpatrick, Martin Carthy, Ashley Hutchings and others.

 
LES BARKER Mrs Ackroyd 004 Earwigo ● CD $15.98
7 tracks, 54 mins., good
Les Barker is probably the most talented wordsmith alive in the English folkscene. He can write wonderfully evocative historical and cultural ballads. Of course, you'll find none of that here, as this is a collection of comic pieces delivered live (and well oiled) in 1987 at the Bromyard Folk Festival  - each an excuse for some of the most 'in' of British in-jokes and the worst puns imaginable. The audience eats it all up, as indeed this is pretty funny stuff. Once. Maybe you and fourteen friends can get together and buy a CD and pass it around... It would be a shame to miss the staggering collection of London place-name puns in It Eppinged Long Ago or the ridiculous mythic send-up Cohen the Barbarian. And the Rose of Allendale will never be the same after the spirited rendering of Barker's Nose of Allan Dale. Inspired lunacy, but not for everybody. (DC)

 
LES BARKER Mrs Ackroyd DOG 011 A Cardi And Bloke ● CD $15.98

 
LES BARKER Terra Nova 007 Probably The Best Album Ever Made By Anybody In Our Str ● CD $8.98
Budget priced introduction to the work of this brilliant and hilarious English monologist, poet and songwriter drawn from the various albums on his own Mrs Ackroyd label. The monologs and poems are done with a live audience whose interaction with Les adds to the fun. His songs include the moving Dachshunds With Erections, a couple of his brilliant parodies of English folk songs Weddell Waddle Penguins and Hard Cheese Of Old England, the latter performed straight faced by Martin Carthy. Martin's daughter Eliza sings Les's Everything Glows a satirical reworking of Cole Porter's Anything Goes about the dangers of nuclear power.

 
SALLY BARKER Hypertension 296 165 Favourite Dish ● CD $15.98
10 songs - mostly originals.

 
PETER BELLAMYFellside 162 Mr. Bellamy, Mr. Kipling & The Tradition ● CD $18.98
Two CD set for the price of one featuring this brilliantly talented English performer. Peter was a great booster of the work of English author Rudyard Kipling and took up the project of setting many of Kiplings poems to music - sometimes using traditional tunes and sometimes his own original tunes. The first CD reissues Peter's 1982 Fellside album "Keep On Kipling" plus six bonus tracks from his two Argo albums in the 70s when he first started setting Kipling's work to music. The second CD features some of Peter's last recordings cut live at the Cockermouth Folk Club in January, 1991 and originally issued on cassette as "Songs An' Rummy Conjurin' Tricks". Peter was in great form on a selection of traditional songs, Kipling songs and songs written by Bob Dylan and Bob Copper.

 
BLOWZABELLA Osmosys 001 Compilation ● CD $15.98
15 tracks, 75 mins, highly recommended Wonderful collection of recordings drawn from the six albums cut by this English group for Plant Life and Special Delivery between 1980 and 1990. Blowzabella were primarily an instrumental dance group performing traditional tunes from the British Isles, France, The Balkans and lots of other places as well as original tunes in a similar vein. The group underwent several changes over the years and by the end of their career were moving in a more jazzy direction. The sound and feel was constant, utilizing hurdy gurdies, bagpipes, melodeons, fiddles, etc to create an irresistible and exciting blend that was very different to any other English group. Exhilarating stuff! (FS)

 
BLOWZABELLA Osmosys 005 The Blowzabella Wall Of Sound ● CD $15.98
Reissue of mis 80s Plant Life album by this talented English group who perform traditional and original dance music from England, Bulgaria, France, Scotland, etc with hurdy gurdys, bagpipes, saxophone, bass guitar, melodeon, violin, whistle, etc. Their arrangements are exciting and imaginative and the only unnecessary track on the album is their one vocal effort which can safely be skipped over!

 
BLOWZABELLA Osmosys 010 A Richer Dust ● CD $15.98
Reissue of 1988 Plant Life album.

 
BLOWZABELLA Osmosys 015 Bobbityshooty ● CD $15.98
Reissue of 1984 album by this exciting instrumental group performing traditional and original compositions with melodeon, accordion, hurdy-gurdies, recorder, bagpipes, flutes, violins, bassoon, percussion, saxophone, rauschpfeife and a whole lot more.

 
BLUE MURDERTopic TSCD 537 No One Stands Alone ● CD $16.98
13 tracks, 49 mins, essential
Utterly magnificent - a real tribute to the beauty and power of the human voice. Blue Murder combines the voices of two of Britain's finest harmony groups - The Watersons (Mike Waterson, Norma Waterson, Martin Carthy & Eliza Carthy) and Coope, Boyes & Simpson (Barry Coope, Jim Boyes & Lester Simpson). The combination is nothing short of spine chilling in it's rich, awesome beauty. The opening track, the old gospel song No One Stands Alone is so powerful and moving that it reduced this curmudgeonly old fart to tears! The songs are a mix of English traditional songs, American hymns, some delightful originals by Mike Waterson and more. Martin provides occasional guitar accompaniments and Lester Simpson plays accordion on Mike's Three Day Millionaire but the focus is on those wonderful voices. Hands down, album of the year! (FS)

 
JIM BOYES No Masters Voice NMV 1 Out' The Blue ● CD $17.98
 

 
BILLY BRAGG Elektra 60502 Talking With The Taxman About Poetry ● CD $12.98
Incredible album by one of the great talents to emerge in the 80s. This album is a bit more arranged than his previous albums - in addition to Billy's shattering electric or acoustic guitar there is the occasional second guitar, percussion, bass, mandolin, trumpet and even a vocal chorus on one song but none of it obscures the strength and vitality of Billy's vocals and his his brilliant lyrics. There are three songs of national politics including the wonderful Ideologies with its sly nod to Dylan's My Back Pages and the incredible There Is Power In the Union a rewrite of a traditional song which ends up as one of the most powerful performances on record in recent years. The rest of the songs deal with different kinds of politics - sexual and family ties. Listen to the brilliant Marriage with its closing line "And Marriage Is When We Admit Our Parents Were Right". But there is no point in picking favorites as every track is a gem and worth listening to again and again. (FS)

 
BILLY BRAGG Elektra 60726 Back To Basics ● CD $12.98
21 essential early Bragg recordings featuring tracks from his first two LPs "Life's A Riot With Spy Vs Spy", "Brewing Up With Billy Bragg" and the "Between The Wars" EP. Unlike his later albums which featured several accompanying musicians this set, for the most part, is Billy and his electric guitar only. Billy's singing and playing are direct and powerful with little subtlety but a whole lot of feeling and imagination. He is also one of the great songwriters of the decade and this set includes such gems as A New England/ To Have And Have Not/ The Man In the Iron Mask/ It Says Here/ Myth Of Trust/ Like Soldiers Do and one of his best songs and an all time classic Between The Wars. The songs range in sentiment from being tenderly romantic to bitingly political but always have intelligence and imagination. If you don't already have the original albums now's your chance to get them all in one budget priced set. (FS)

 
BILLY BRAGG Elektra 60824 Workers Playtime ● CD $12.98
1989 album by the splendid Mr Bragg features 11 new songs with Billy accompanied by a small band on most tracks.

 
BILLY BRAGG Elektra 60960 The Internationale ● CD $10.98
Elektra's "cuddly communist" returns with a new seven song CD. And it's certainly out of left field, even for Bragg, with the material nearly all covers of other artists or collaborations. The subject matter is deadly serious, much more than his usual mix of love, politics and the futility of life itself. There's an acapella tribute to the late Phil Ochs, a duet with Dick Gaughan on The Red Flag and an outstanding rendition of Eric Bogle's My Youngest Son Came Home Today. This isn't, overall, Bragg's best or most representative work, but it's certainly moving, well-produced and well-intentioned. (JS)

 
BILLY BRAGG Elektra 61121 Don't Try This At Home ● CD $17.98
Another solid outing of political commentary and hard-edged folk-rock from a prolific urban poet with plenty to say. Bragg doesn't think much of American politics or social underpinning. He's equally incensed by uninformed English working class opinions. His songs are well-crafted and direct. They demand to be listened to. Here are songs of the angst of love and sex, racism, two-faced religion, war and blind politicians. Tempos swing wildly from slow and intimate to loud and thrashing. To his credit, Bragg is relying more and more on his softer voice to convey important messages, although it's probable that the public is now listening to him because he began by screaming from the rooftops. An enjoyable album that grows on you and makes you think. (DC)

 
BILLY BRAGG Rhino 75962 Reaching To The Converted ● CD $16.98
A retrospective of Billy's career featuring 17 U.K. chart singles and non-album B-sides released between 1985-1997, mostly on the Go! Discs label. Includes tracks like She's Leaving Home/ Days Like These/ Accident Waiting To Happen/ I Don't Need The Pressure On/ Think Again and more. It also includes a previously unissued version of Shirley recorded in 1992. Includes lyrics to the songs and commentary by Billy.

 
BRASS MONKEY Topic TSCD 467 The Complete Brass Monkey ● CD $15.98
18 tracks, 79 mins, essential. In 1983 Brass Monkey appeared like a breath of fresh air in the somewhat moribund folk scene of the time. This sadly short lived and brilliant group merged the talents of two of Britain's finest solo folk performers - Martin Carthy (vocals, guitar & mandolin) and John Kirkpatrick (vocals, concertina and melodeons) with a trio of brilliant brass musicians - Howard Evans (trumpet & flugelhorn), Richard Cheetham or Roger Williams (trombone) & Martin Brinsford (saxophone, harmonica & percussion). Together they produced one of the most exhilarating sounds to have come out of the British folk scene in the 80s. Because of financial constraints and the performers individual careers they only toured sporadically and recorded the two albums featured on this disc before disbanding in 1987. The songs are mostly traditional along with Richard Thompson's moody Bad News, an original by John based on a chapter from Thomas Hardy's "Far From The Madding Crowd" and a musical setting of Thomas Hardy's anti-war poem Night Of Trafalgar. The instrumental pieces are also outstanding and include a couple of lovely Shetland tunes collected from John Stickle. Brilliant musicianship, marvelous singing, a lovely clear recording and informative notes on the group by David Suff along with notes on all the performances. An exceptional disc in every way. Even after nearly 80s minutes you'll be clamoring for more. Maybe this CD reissue will encourage a reunion! (FS)

 
BRASS MONKEY Topic TSCD 501 Sound & Rumour ● CD $15.98
After 11 years this wonderful and innovative British folk group is back. It featured the expected guitar, concertina and accordion and the not so expected but wonderfully effective trumpet, trombone and saxophone plus percussion. The vocals are handled by Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick - sometimes as duets. The songs and tunes are mostly English traditional - some you may have heard before but not like this.

 
BRASS MONKEYTopic TSCD 531 Going & Staying ● CD $15.98
11 tracks, 55 mins, essential This is only the fourth album in nearly 20 years by this brilliant and innovative group and like their previous releases is a cause for rejoicing. Brass Monkey merges the talents of two of Britains finest solo folk performers - Martin Carthy (vocals, guitar & mandolin) and John Kirkpatrick (vocals, concertina and melodeons) with a quartet of brilliant brass musicians - Howard Evans (trumpets), Richard Cheetham (trombone & sackbutt), Martin Brinsford (saxophone, harmonica & percussion) and Roger Williams (bass trombone and tuba). The result is one of the most exhilarating sounds to have come out of the British folk scene. There are some wonderful songs and tunes including a stunning version of one of my favorite songs Heather Down The Moor with vocals by Martin, a suite of dances by 16th century British composer Anthony Holborne, a joyous version of Crockery Ware with vocals by John, the moving title song based on a poem by Thomas Hardy and much, much more. Singing is wonderful, arrangements are brilliant - full of little twists and surprises that keep you listening again and again. British folk doesn't get much better than this. (FS)

 
ANNE BRIGGS Fledg'ling 3008 Sing A Song For You ● CD $17.98
10 tracks, 40 mins, highly recommended
Multiple kudos to the good folks at Fledg'ling who have unearthed some great unissued British folk treasures - first the Etchingham Steam Band, then the Young Tradition/ Shirley & Dolly Collins collaboration and now this beautiful unissued album recorded in 1973. Apparently Anne was not satisfied with the vocals and her subsequent commitment to her family prevented her from redoing them. Most singers would give their right arm (or perhaps right tonsil!) to sound this good on an off day. Following her CBS album "The Time Has Come" of all contemporary songs this disc is half traditional and half original songs. A number of cuts feature her in the company of Steve Ashley's electric group Ragged Robin with Barry Dransfield guesting on fiddle from time to time! Several of the traditional songs are performed acapella revealing once again her ability to get to the very heart of the story and fill it with the kind of restrained decoration usually associated with great Irish singers. The lovely Hills Of Greenmor features Anne accompanying herself on bouzouki and the whole electric band does an energetic job on Sullivan's John (also known as Spancil Hill). The original songs are generally more interesting than those on "The Time Has Come" and I particularly like the title song Anne wrote for her daughter and the traditional sounding Summer Is In. (FS)

 
ANNE BRIGGS Topic TSCD 504 A Collection ● CD $15.98
So what is all the fuss about Anne Briggs ? You may ask. Well she is one of the very finest singers to have emerged from the British folk revival in the 60s as well as being an influence on singers as diverse as June Tabor and Christy Moore. Many of the songs she recorded would later be taken up by many other singers. The 22 tracks on this magnificent compact disc features all the recordings she made for Topic between 1963 and 1971 including her full length album, an extended play and tracks from two collections plus two rare lives sides from Edinburgh Folk Festival recordings from 1963. Her singing is spine chilling - on the surface simple and gentle but full of the kind of subtle decoration that is more familiar in the singing of Irish singers. Most of the songs are unaccompanied but a few feature her on guitar or bouzouki or with Johnny Moynihan on bouzouki. She and Moynihan were responsible for introducing this Greek instrument to the British Isles folk scene. The material is stunning including a version of Young Tambling that never fails to raise the hairs on the back of my neck. Other songs include The Recruited Collier/ Lowlands/ Polly Vaughan/ Gathering Rushes/ The Stonecutter Boy/ Blackwater Side/ Willie O'Winsbury/ Thorneymoor Woods/ Reynardine/ My Bonny Lad and others. It also includes a couple of excellent original songs which pointed the direction to her next recordings - an album for CBS which was an unsuccessful and disheartening experience for Anne and led to her abandoning music - a great loss to the folk world. The original recordings were cut on portable equipment but the remastered sound here is superb and the disc comes with a detailed 36 page booklet. (FS)


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