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New Releases: July 2010 -> March 2011
Folk Music
Albion Dance Band ->
Various Artists + Book



WORLDS OF SOUND The Story Of Smithsonian Folkways by Richard Carlin $34.95
Hardbound, 283 pages, counts as 11 CDs for shipping
When he opened his tiny recording studio in New York in 1940, Moses Asch had a dream: to document and record all the sounds of his time. He created Folkways Records to achieve his goal, not just a record label but a statement that all sounds are equal and every voice deserves to be heard. The Folkways catalog grew to include a myriad of voices, from world- and roots-music to political speeches; the voices of contemporary poets and steam engines; folk singers Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie and Jazz pianists Mary Lou Williams and James P. Johnson; Haitian vodoun singers and Javanese court musicians. Until his death in 1986, Asch created more than 2000 albums, and "Worlds of Sound" documents this improbable journey. Folkwways became part of the Smithsonian Institution's collections shortly after Asch's death and continues reissuing on CD these valuable recordings as well as making new recordings in the same spirit. Richard Carlin, the author of several books on folk, country, and traditional music, worked for Folkways as an independent producer from 1975 to 1980 and brings his insider knowledge to the table in this important tale of a pioneering label. Featuring a selected discography plus hundreds of beautiful reproductions of album covers, archival photographs and other fascinating memorabilia.



ENGLAND THE ALBION DANCE BAND Talking Elephant 106 Dancing Days Are Here Again $19.98
Two CDs, 28 tracks, highly recommended
Great of performances recorded by Ashley Hutchings and his ever changing electric folk group The Albion Band. The first features 13 tracks recorded live at The Royal Festival Hall in 1976 from around the time of their "Prospect Before Us" album - one of my favorites and features many of the performers from that album (Shirley Collins, Simon Nicol, Phil Pickett, the twin drumming of Michael Gregory and Dave Mattacks and others). The material is partly drawn from that album and partly other traditional pieces along with a couple of tunes dating back to Renaissance times. All the performances are superb. The second album is from a 1983 studio session with a somewhat different lineup including Jean-Pierre Rasle (bagpipes, crumhorn, recorder, etc.) and Dave Whetstone (melodeon, concertina, guitars, etc). This is an all instrumental set of dance tunes, mostly composed by members of the group but with a strong traditional feel. Perhaps not quite as strong as the first disc this makes for entertaining listening. (FS)

ENGLAND MARTIN CARTHY Hux 119 The January - Live In Belfast 1978 $17.98
13 tracks, very highly recommended
What a delight - a live concert by Britain's finest interpreter of traditional song recorded in 1978 at The Sunflower Folk Club in Belfast. By 1978 Martin was at the very top of his form - his vocals and guitar playing had fully matured and in spite of a punishing touring schedule never gave less than his best as can be heard clearly on this terrific set. Drawing on his extensive repertoire he performs a great selection of accompanied and unaccompanied songs and instrumentals - mostly traditional but including Dave Goulder's powerful January Man. It includes the incredible and spine chilling long ballads Willie's Lady and Prince Heathen plus The Rainbow/ Johnny Sands/ The PLains Of Waterloo/ The Bonny Black Hare and others. There are a couple of instrumentals including one of my favorites - the wonderful march The Siege Of Delhi. Sound quality is excellent and the eight page booklet has extensive notes and rare photos. Martin is a British national treasure and this disc will give you an idea why. (FS)

ENGLAND BOB & RON COPPER Folk Legacy 19 English Shepherd And Farming Songs $16.98
16 tracks, 43 mins, essential
CD issue of 1964 LP - one of the most influential albums on the British folk music revival. The Copper Family of Rottingdean on the Sussex coast have maintained a tradition of harmony singing for something like 200 years and have been incredibly influential on the English folk scene. Their style of harmony singing was to inspire groups like The Watersons, Young Tradition, Swan Arcade and others and the versions of the songs they preserved have become staples of the folk movement throughout the world - Spencer The Rover/ Shepherd Of The Down/ Sportsmen Arouse/ Hard Times Of Old England/ Dame Durden/ Babes In The Wood and others - many of them dealing with rural life in England. The recordings here were made by Peter Kennedy featuring brothers Bob and Ron in two part harmony and occasionally solo and the results are beautifully moving and compelling. The 22 page booklet includes notes by Bob Copper himself who has remained the custodian of the Copper Family legacy plus commentary by Kennedy and full lyric transcripts. Counts as two CDs for shipping. (FS)

IRELAND JACKIE DALY Topic TSCD 358 Music From Sliabh Luachra $14.98
15 tracks, 43 mins, essential
New reissue of the 1977 solo effort recorded by the soft-spoken County Cork button accordion virtuoso. Many American audiences know Jackie from hearing him tour with De Danann, Patrick Street, or Arcady, but clearly Jackie doesn't need a band to be incredibly entertaining. Mostly sticking with his button accordion, on four cuts he also shows off his talents on anglo concertina, spicing beautifully accurate rhythm with his Cork style ornaments. The repertoire here is tightly focused--collected from the mountainous Sliabh Luachra region of Cork and naturally including plenty of local polkas and slides. One treat among many is the rarely heard but delightful Where's the Cat?. (DC)

ENGLAND SANDY DENNY & THE STRAWBS Witchwood Media 500019 All Our Own Work - The Conplete Sessions $17.98
24 tracks, 65 mins, highly recommended
Dave Lambert and the Strawbs, and Sandy Denny -- baby faces, all -- got together and recorded an album for the Danish record label Sonet way back in 1966. The album would have un-heralded release years after the fact and flounder in relative obscurity, whilst the musicians on it would become famous inventing the British Folk-Rock scene. All these many years later, you get the complete sessions, all of the original album plus 12 more out-takes and demos, remastered and available for you to love. Three of the demo tracks, Pieces of 79 and 15/ The Falling Leaves, and Indian Summer, all make their first legit appearance here. Though it's probably the two wonderful versions, it's the earliest known recordings of "Who Knows Where The Time Goes," that will garner the most interest amongst the faithful. This is certainly a must for Denny-philes, Strawb-heads and fans of the great British Folk-Rock era. (JM)

AMERICAN FOLK BOB DYLAN Columbia 76179 The Bootleg Series, Vol. 9 : The Witmark Demos, 1962-64 $18.98
2CD, 47 tracks, 150 mins, essential
It's been said before but I'll say it again: Bob Dylan is the most influential songwriter of the 20th century, not to mention being one of the most covered. The latest installment of his Bootleg Series contains the demos that Dylan cut for Leeds Music Co and M. Witmark & Sons publishing companies, with the intent that the songs would be pitched to other singers to record. Many of his early standards were first cut here: Blowin' in the Wind/ A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall/ Masters of War/ Don't Think Twice, It's All Right/ The Times They Are A-Changin', and Mr. Tambourine Man. Some were recorded by Dyland, somewere cut by other artists, some were simply forgotten about, and many of these tracks have been heavily bootlegged for years (a couple have even appeared on previous Bootleg Series volumes), but never have all the tracks been collected so comprehensively in one place before and with superb sound throughout. As it says in the extenive liner notes, these songs-known so well by some of us, that we can sing them by heart-are being heard in their formative stages for the first time in chronological sequence. With just voice, guitar, harmonica, and piano, Dylan gives these songs an intimacy and off-the-cuff vibrancy that his early albums lack (it almost makes me wonder who in the world would think other singers would want to cover these very personal songs); when he sings The Death of Emmett Till, every word of this sad story cuts really deep and never lets you forget that injustice is something that must never be swept under the carpet of history. Some songs like Let Me Die In My Footsteps and Seven Curses are so good that it's puzzling that they wern't recorded by Dylan or anyone else at the time. The 58 page booklet has detailed notes by Colin Escott, loads of great early photos and reproductions of some of Bob's written drafts for some of the songs. It doesn't matter how many times you've heard Girl From the North Country or Baby, Let Me Follow You Down, Bootleg Series Vol. 9 is guaranteed to make these, and other, familiar songs sound brand new again. (GMC/ FS)

AMERICAN FOLK BOB DYLAN LeftField 501 Folksinger's Choice $18.98
11 tracks, 57 mins, very highly recommended
Cynthia Gooding was a performer in own right, having recorded for Elektra, but was best known for her radio show on New York station WBAI, "Folksinger's Choice". In March, 1961, Gooding hosted Dylan on her show, the transcription of which is preserved here. This fascinating document includes not only the earliest performances of The Death of Emmett Til/ Standing on the Highway, and Hard Times in New York Town, and some well chosen (and performed) covers from Hank Williams, Bukka White, Howlin' Wolf, and Woody Guthrie, but also some engaging stories from a clearly at ease Dylan. Although tall as these tales may (or may not) be, it's Dylan's way of telling them - not to mention Gooding's willingness to believe them - that makes the performance even more fun to listen to. As a document of very early Dylan-before even his first album had been released - this recording is invaluable as history; but more than that, it's also great to listen to. (GMC)

AMERICAN FOLK FRANK FAIRFIELD Tompkins Square 2257 Frank Fairfield $15.98
11 tracks, 41 min., highly recommended
Photo looks like 1929, cover design is reminiscent of an old Rounder Records LP from the "Early Days Of Bluegrass" series, and that's just the way Frank Fairfield wants it. This album feels like another lost Bristol session. And there lies the problem, if it is a problem. Fairfield, who collects 78 rpm shellac discs, plays traditional folk music as if it were the Great Depression, singing and accompanying himself now on fiddle, now on guitar, now on banjo. The songs (John Hardy, The Cumberland Gap), the high lonesome singing, everything is quintessentially old timey, and Fairfield drips authenticity, which raises the question, why not just listen to the 78s he's emulating. Probably because he has an intensity that can't be copped from old records. And because the atmosphere hangs heavy with the kind of despair that brings Frank Fairfield joy. And maybe his listeners. (JC)

SCOTLAND RAY FISHER Folk Legacy 91 Willie's Lady $16.98
11 tracks, 43 mins, essential
Ray Fisher is a member of a very talented family of singers - her brother Archie and sister Cilla are well known performers and although Ray is less well known she might very well be the best of them. Her voice has that incredibly melodious quality you hear in the best Scottish and Irish singers and the quiet intensity of her approach will send shivers down your spine. Most of the songs are traditional featuring Ray accompanied by her own rather basic but effective guitar accompaniment and include stellar renditions of fairly uncommon songs like The Red-Haired Man's Wife/ Are You Sleeping Maggie/ The Weary Cutters and others. These performances are enough to make this well worth your $16.98 but what makes it essential is the stunning Willie's Lady an amazing nine minute tale of treachery, murder and magic which Ray put to a Breton folk tune. On this track she is given some sublime fiddle accompaniment by Johnny Cunningham. Martin Carthy was so impressed by her approach that he also did a spectacular rendition of her version on his "Crown Of Horn" album. The booklet comes separately and has notes by Ray on the songs. Because of the separate booklet this counts as three CDs for shipping. (FS)

SCOTLAND CILLA FISHER & ARCHIE TREZISE Folk Legacy 69 For Foul Day And Fair $16.98
14 tracks, highly recommended
Reissue of superb 1978 album by this outstanding Scottish duo. Cilla is the sister of Ray and Archie Fisher and stylistically her vocals are akin to those of Ray who is one of Scotland's finest singer. Her partner Artis Trezise provides fine guitar accompaniment and harmony vocals on about half the tracks. The songs are mostly traditional along with a couple of excellent songs from Cilla's brother Archie. The songs are mostly fairly obscure but even the familiar ones are in different versions to the more familiar ones. Booklet is seperate so this counts as two CDs. (FS)

AMERICAN FOLK SARAH OGAN GUNNING Folk Legacy 26 Girl Of Constant Sorrow $16.98
20 tracks, 43 mins, very highly recommended
Wonderful collection of traditional and topical songs sung acapella by Kentucky born singer Sarah Ogan Gunning - the half sister of the legendary Aunt Molly Jackson and every bit her equal as a singer though not as well known. They were both active in the struggle to organize the mine workers in the Kentucky coal fields and a number of the songs that Sarah wrote have become standards of the folk repertoire. Sarah had first recorded for the Library Of Congress in 1938 and '39 but this first LP was recorded by Archie Green at Sarah's home in Detroit in 1964 and after the release of the LP in 1965 Sarah began performing regularly at folk festivals and concerts. The material featured here mixes original and topical material with traditional ballads, gospel songs and more. Many of the topical songs were based on familiar traditional or gospel tunes in order to better reach the target audience such as the title song, Down On The Picket Line (based on Down In The Valley To Pray) and Dreadful Memories (from Precious Memories). Traditional songs and gospel songs include Loving Nancy/ May I Go With You, Johnny/ Christ Was A Wayworn Traveler/ Captain Devlin/ Oh, Death and more. Beautiful performances and the 32 page booklet has extensive notes on Sarah and the songs, discographical references and lyric transcripts. Counts as two CDs for shipping. (FS)

IRELAND FRANK HARTE Faetajn SPIN 995 Daybreak And A Candle-End $23.98
13 tracks, 51 mins, highly recommended
Another superb collection of Irish traditional songs from one of my favorite Irish singers with accompaniments from his long term associate Donal Lunny. This is a reissue of an album originally issued in 1987 - about half sung are unaccompanied and the rest feature sensitive and tasteful accompaniment by Lunny. Unlike some of Frank's thematic compilation this one is simply a collection of great songs that are among Frank's favorites. Some of them you may be familiar while others are obscure gems that should be better known. Includes The Jolly Young Ploughboy/ The Maid Of Cabra West (an hilarious more recent composition)/ Sarah Jane/ By The Hush Me Boys (a stunning performance of the song usually known as Paddy's Lamentation/ Cockles And Mussels (yes, the old warhorse give a new lease of life here)/ The Holland Handkerchief/ I Wonder What Is Keeping My True Love/ Here I Am From Donegal and more. A joy! (FS)

AMERICAN FOLK PHIL OCHS Micro Werks 070 On My Way, 1963 Demo Session $14.98
25 tracks, 66 min., highly recommended
These tracks come from a recently uncovered (and more recently acquired by brother Michael Ochs) tape Phil Ochs made for Roy Connors of the Highwaymen. Most of these 25 originals are previously unreleased, including I'll Be There/ Time Was/ New Town, and an amusing tribute to a guide turned cannibal called The Ballad Of Alfred Packer. The early version of Power And The Glory contains an additional verse. Because Ochs is sharing his songs, he says a few words before each one and often tells the key or the chord progression he's using. The quality of the recording is quite good, all things considered, and the performances are all strong. Ochs' dedication to the topical (see The Ballad Of Davey Moore) occasionally makes the material sound dated, but generally not. His songs of lost love and loneliness (e.g., Don't Try Again/ First Snow) are generally more appealing these days than, say, The Ballad Of U.S. Steel, but then again Bobby Dylan Record is all around fun. A must for any Ochs fan, a solid pleasure for any fan of folk music. (JC)

AMERICAN FOLK EDNA RITCHIE Folk Legacy 3 Songs Of Appalachia $16.98
Edna is an older sister of the well-known and beloved Jean Ritchie. They are members of an important family of tradition bearers from southeastern Kentucky. It was the Ritchie family that introduced many of us to versions of the beautiful traditional songs found by Cecil Sharp during his historic collecting trips to Appalachia in 1916-1918. Edna sings the songs, ballads, and carols of her rich family tradition in a gentle, unpretentious style, frequently accompanying her singing with her mountain dulcimer. Songs include May Day Carol/ Old Tyler/ Foreign Lander/ Someody's Tall And Handsome/ Old Chimney Sweeper/ I Wonder When I Shall Be Married/ As Joseph Was A-Walking. Accompanying 28 page booklet has in-depth notes on Ritchie, the family tradition and the songs by folklorist D.K. Wilgus. Counts as two CDs for shipping.

SCOTLAND EMILY SMITH Spit & Polish 036 A Different Life $16.98
12 tracks, highly recommended
U.S. issue of 2008 album by this outstanding SCottish performer. Emily is an absolutely stunning singer who accompanies herself on accordion and piano and is joined by some outstanding musicians including Jamie McClennan on fiddle and guitar, Steve Byrne on guitar, cittern and bouzouki, Brain Finnegan on flute and whistles. Her material is a mix of traditional and contemporary - most of the latter written by Emily herself including the moving Always A Smile about her Polish born grandmother and the wonderful Edward Of Morton which could easily be a traditional ballad. Strong Winds For Autumn by Bob McNeill is another beauty. Among the traditional highlights are the great opening cut The Bonny Labouring Boy and a gorgeous version of The Lowlands Of Holland with a different tune to the more familiar versions. But every track is great and the performances are flawless. A real winner. (FS)

ENGLAND STEELEYE SPAN EMI 646 964-2 Another Parcel Of Steeleye Span $28.98
Three CDs, 47 tracks, highly recommended
The second collection of five albums from Steeleye on three CDs features "Rocket Cottage" from 1976, "Storm Force Ten" from 1977 and their first live album "Live At Last" from 1978, "Sails Of Silver" from 1980 and "Tempted And Tried" from 1989. Although the cover states "Their Second Five Chryslis Albums" the first four were originally issued on Chrysalis while "Tempted" originally appeared on the Dover label. Their 1986 album "Back In Line" originally on the Flutterby album is not included here. After "Rocket Cottage," Peter Knight and Robert Johnson left to pursue solo ventures and the group were able to call upon two giants of the folk scene to replace them - Martin Carthy on vocal and guitar and John Kirkpatrick on vocals on accordion and thanks to their presence "Storm Force Ten" was one of their best albums in a while and in addition to traditional material included several songs from Kurt Well and Bertolt Brecht which work out wonderfully well. The live has the same linup and draws on songs from previous Steeleye albums as well as songs not recorded before. After this album the group disbanded until 1980 when it reunited with Knight and Johnson back and a collection of mostly original songs on "Sails Of Silver" though with a strong traditional flavor though this slight shift in direction alienated some of their fans. "Tempted" from 1989 with the same line up is back to mostly traditional material and is a superb collection featuring particularly fine performances of songs like Padstow/ The Cruel Mother/ Jack Hall and Betsy Bell And Mary Gray. After almost 20 years the group was still performing with energy and imagination. Bonus cuts includes the 1977 acapella Christmas single Boar's Head Carol and, in complete contrast, a great 1978 single covering The Four Seasons' Rag Doll. While not quite as indispensible as the first volume this is definitely a must for lovers of traditionally oriented folk-rock. (FS)

ENGLAND DAVE SWARBRICK & SIMON NICOL Talking Elephant 165 When We Were Very Young $19.98
2 CDs, 21 tracks, 98 mins, highly recommended
English Folkies Dave Swarbrick and Simon Nicol teamed up a number of times in the early '80s for recordings and especially for live shows. This two CD collection of "live recordings from the Swarbrick archive" captures them in fine (if somewhat inebriated at times) form. Recorded at various Pubs and Folk clubs throughout the U.S. and Europe between 1982 - 84, the boys provided a fine selection of traditional and modern Folk music. From the innocent to the bawdy are covered in the tracks with versions of Teddy Bear's Picnic/ The Dogs, They Had A Party/ John Barlycorn/ Merry Boys Of Greenland/ The Four Poster Bed/ Lord Haddo's Favorite/ Lady Mary Haye's Scotch Measure, etc. The more modern compositions include a couple of their own and many of Richard Thompson's. From the heartfelt ballads to the barnburners played at break neck speed, this captures these fine musicians at their best. All feature deft instrumentation on Fiddle and acoustic guitar. Listening to these exceptional performances, you know that the shows must have been fantastic, since you can't go back in time, thankfully we at least have this set to enjoy. (JM)

IRELAND PADDY TUNNEY Folk Legacy 7 The Man Of Songs $16.98
13 tracks, 41 mins, essential
Paddy Tunney from County Donegal was one of Ireland's greatest traditional singers with a wonderful melodic style with subtle use of ornamention. He was also a folk song collector and was resposnible for introducing many great songs to a wider audience. His style and repertoire have influenced later "revival" singers like Paul Brady, Andy Irvine, Dolores Keane, Dick Gaughan and others. These are his first recordings cut by Diane Hamilton in 1962 and includes recordings of some of his most memorable songs like Lough Erne Shore/ The Green Fields Of Canada/ The Mountain Streams Where The Moorcocks Crow/ Roisin Dubh and the utterly sublime love song As I Roved Out. One songs is sung in Irish Gaelic and one track features a wonderful example of the wordless evocation of dance music called "lilting." The extensive notes in a separate booklet has detailed information on all the songs and lyric transcripts. Counts as two CDs for shipping. (FS)

AMERICAN FOLK VARIOUS ARTISTS Folk Legacy 22 The Traditional Music Of Beech Mountain, North Carolina $16.98
17 tracks, 42 mins, highly recommended
Reissue of 1964 LP. First of two volumes of field recordings of traditional musicians from Beech Mountain, North Carolina made in the early 60s. This volume is a beautiful set of mostly unaccompanied songs - many of them traditional ballads drawn from the British tradition and some of them rarely recorded elsewhere including the superb Sir Lionel performed by Buna Hicks and the beautiful Johnny, Oh Johnny performed by Lee Monroe Presnell. There are also several sacred songs performed including a spine chilling rendition of The Day Is Past And Gone by Buna Hicks. Other singers include Hattie Presnell, Lena Armstrong and others and all are excellent. The set comes with extensive notes in a separate 32 page booklet with extensive discussion of the traditions of the region, the performers and each of the songs. Counts as two CDs for shipping. (FS)

AMERICAN FOLK VARIOUS ARTISTS Folk Legacy 23 The Traditional Music Of Beech Mountain, North Carolina, Vol. 2 $16.98
23 tracks, 45 mins, very highly recommended
The second volume is devoted to "Later Songs And Hymns" and is even better than the first volume thanks to five utterly spellbinding performances of hymns and sacred songs by a trio consisting of Margie Harmon, her brother and Ottie "Coot" Greene. Their rough hewn harmonizing on Precious Memories/ Where The Soul Of Man Never Dies/ Angel Band and others is worth the price of admission. Unlike the serious ballads on first volume the songs here are often more light hearted dance songs like I Went To See My Suzie/ Baldheaded End Of The Broom/ Soldier John and others. There are also several fine instrumental selections performed on fiddle and dulcimer and several of the songs have instrumental accompaniment. Notes are in separate 32 page booklet - counts as two CDs for shipping. (FS)

ENGLISH VARIOUS ARTISTS Spectrum 2035 The Story Of British Folk $15.98
2CDs, 38 tracks, 142 mins, highly recommended
At its best, Folk music is a fascinating History lesson set to a beautiful melody; at it's worst, it can be preachy and atonal (I'm looking at you, Phil Ochs). I'm thankful this collection is chock a block full of the best kinds of Folk music. Since the British Isles has about 1,000 plus years of Folk traditions to pull from, there is a lot of great British Folk out there. This collection is basically a two-CD primer of some of the best, from the late great Sandy Denny with It'll Take A Long Time/ The North Star Grassman And The Ravens, and I'm A Dreamer, to the recently departed and sometimes disregarded Gerry Rafferty & The Humblebums with Please Sing A Song For Us, to the thankfully still alive and well Richard & Linda Thompson with I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight. From sparsely accompanied artists like Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, and John Martyn, to full bands with a wide array of instrumentation like Fairport Convention Pentangle, and Steeleye Span, most of the tracks here will be pretty well known to Folk fans, though a few lesser-known gems are strewn throughout, like Mellow Candle with Messenger Birds, and Beth Rowley's lovely version of Willie Nelson's Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground. For the fan looking to explore the genre, you have a great starting place here. (JM)


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