Thursday, 29 April 2010

Hi, Ion here, and what a playlist I have for you today. Probably not what you’re all used to, but under encouragement from the Duke (I’ve been unsure whether to post this music for a while), here it is. I warn you now, it’s a bit of a departure from my last disco-house mix! OK, where to begin….ah yes “Soul”Spektrum….recently I believe an American described soul music to Big Face as “…black people’s sex music…” well, that’s probably debatable in itself ….but what is soul?? I know my soul comes from Blighty, as I guess do most of yours, but what do I hear in all of our mixes….quality music with soul for sure, but I think it’s pretty much American influenced sounds. Where’s Blighty’s soul? Most of my life I’ve been a countryside dweller and while I love the urban influenced soul, there is definitely something to be said for Ye olde English music of the fields, barns, woods and inns. As we all know from experience, the tempo of music which suits urban and rural life and differing climates is very different. So, next time you find yourself sitting in the country, staring at a view or smoking a pipe, I plead with you to give this mix its chance…our true souls must come from our anglo-saxoness right?? I’ve been a folk appreciater for many years now and in this mix I’m hoping to share with you lads something of our true heritage. I’ve steered away from the modern folk of people like Nick Drake and John Martyn (who I’m sure you’re all familiar with), who are themselves fantastic folk writers, and tried to make up my mix from songs that have been passed down over the centuries from one generation to the next. On my playlist are traditional acoustic folk songs, folk rock from the revival in the 60/70s and modern re-tellings from recent times….as with most folk albums, I’m going to give you all a little run down of the songs…’s a bit of a ramble I’m afraid so I’ve added it all as a comment so as not to fill up the Duke’s page. Sorry if I’m boring you all a bit, but I kind of feel the effort musicians put into continuing these songs throughout hundreds of years deserves a bit of detail.


  1. 'Ouses, 'Ouses, 'Ouses - John Copper & Sheila Chandra (The Imagined Village) 2007
    The Copper family have been passing down folk tales for more than 200 years and now form part of the collective “The Imagined Village” (….Simon Emmerson from Afro Celt Sound System, The Copper Family, Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy, Shiela Chandra, Trans Global Underground, Billy Bragg, Tiger Moth, Tunng, The Gloworms, Benjamin Zephaniah and other contemporary British guest artists) The Imagined Village see themselves as the new folk musicians of multicultural Britain.

    Matty Groves – Fairport Convention 1969
    The Willshers must be familiar with this from the Croperdy Festivals. Anyway, this song of adultery and death dates from the 17th century and Sandy Denny’s beautiful voice does it fantastically.

    Scarborough Fair – Martin Carthy 1965
    Martin Carthy, the godfather of all twentieth century folk revival. All of us are of course familiar with this song. From the 17th century, it tells the story of the impossible tasks set for a young maiden by the demon Elfin Knight. Martin Carthy taught this version of the song to Paul Simon in the early sixties and the rest is history…..but Simon and Garfunkel’s version after this sounds pretty weak.

    Tam Lin Retold – Benjamin Zephaniah & Eliza Carthy (The Imagined Village) 2007
    A fantastic modern re-telling of Tam Lin who was an evil-spirit and guardian of the woods who preyed upon young virgins in an attempt to free himself from the spirit world. This dates back to the 16th century.

    The Bonnie Black Hare – Fairport Convention 1971
    A sporting 19th century tale performed by Fairport Convention of hunting, hares and laying a maiden down under the trees!

    John Barleycorn – Steve Winwood 1970
    Perhaps one of the most famous traditional folk songs. It’s from the 15-16th century and tells of the butchering of corn for the making of mead, beer and wine. Steve Winwood is possibly one of the most musically talented musicians England has produced and here he’s playing every instrument heard on this track.

    Lord Franklin – Martin Carthy 1966
    This is a beautiful song. It’s the tale of the ill-fated journey of Sir John Franklin who set out to discover the North West Passage over Canada in the nineteenth century. Martin Carthy’s voice truly soars on this version.

    Cold Haily Rainy Night - Chris Wood, Eliza & Martin Carthy & Trans G.U. (The Imagined Village) 2007
    An eighteenth century story, often retold and here thumped out by twenty people! The drums of T.G.U. power this version through. There is a particularly great live performance of this on Jools Holland’s Later on youtube.

    And A Begging I Will Go – Martin Carthy 1965
    This has been sung since as far back as the 15th century when begging was actually a licensed trade. It certainly sounds like it was more fun then than it is now sitting next to cashpoints on cardboard boxes!

    The Humpback Whale – Nic Jones 1980
    A song from the nineteenth century whaling days, sung here by Nic Jones, possibly the best folk guitarist living today.

    Hard Times Of Old England Retold - Billy Bragg & The Young Coppers (The Imagined Village) 2007
    An old Copper family song reworked by the inimitable Billy Bragg who admits he wasted years of his life searching for his musical soul in America whilst not realizing Martin Carthy had been playing every week for twenty five years ten miles down the road from where he grew up.

    OK spekrummers, I’ve really enjoyed putting this together and I’ll be happy if you chaps enjoy even one of the songs on it……and maybe it will spark a bit more pre-world cup patriotism! However, don’t worry, I won’t be flooding the Spektrum with mandolins, tin whistles and lutes again….next time I promise to get back closer to the black folk’s sex music!

  2. Amazing!
    You definitely made the right decision to post this - thanks.
    It's music that probably would never have made it in to my collection otherwise.
    The intro for 'Ouses 'Ouses 'Ouses sent a shiver up my spine, and then I had a big grin on my face right until the end, as it took me back home and conjured up images of countryside, pubs, jumpers.

    Brilliant timing too, as it's now the 1st of May - I'm off to find a virgin!

    Any chance of a download link?

  3. OK, great to hear you enjoyed it is a link son you can download it. By the way, I've just given it a listen myself and it seems the levels on different songs are a bit messed up. Also, if you're interested, Martin Carthy's "1st Album" and "Second album" are both great traditional acoustic folk and the Imagined Village self titled album is also brilliant! Here's the link address.

  4. i think the wider the 'soul' spektrum is, the better for everyone, as lone arranger pointed out we hear music that would otherwise not necessarily sail into our paths.

    Although i grew up only a handful of miles away from fairport convention's spiritual home of cropredy and went to a number of their annual festivals, (actually i was only there as a boy scout to earn a few pounds pocket money and as a chance to drink as much 6X ale as i could without blowing my chances of a bit of a tumbling and a fumbling around with young maidens in the back of my tent), i never really appreciated the music for what it was. A little like the tale of Billy Bragg who spent many a year away from his home until he realized that the music he was looking for was being played only a few miles down the road. It just goes to show that you can never really be told to appreciate something just because someone says so, instead it has to be felt and make sense to the individual which might take place in a very different space and time for each of us.

    As chance would have it I was watching a Billy Connelly documentary recently charting his travels in and around northern Canada and it was here that i first heard the tale of Lord Franklin and his ill-fated journey around the north-west passage-way. Apparently it wasn't the cold that killed them or a lack of food but poisonous levels of mercury ingested while trying to survive on their canned supply of food. The underlying story was one of adventure and trying to forge a way through one of nature's more harsh but equally stunning landscapes. It was therefore good to hear such a tale being told through Martin Carthy's rousing vocal. I really like the idea of stories being passed down from generation to next but it seems that this may be a dying tradition with the many banal forms of media that seem to distract our attention.

    In addition to the more recent renditions of English folk music by the Imagined village i particularly enjoyed matty groves and the john barleycorn track.

    thanks for sharing a little insight into some traditional english folk music, i'm off to get some honey for my own mead mix and then i'll be searching for some young virgins, although i fear i've missed the boat as it is no longer a righteous holiday. in fact it never is a holiday in taiwan, righteous or not.

    peace & barley

  5. Can't wait to hear this one - fleet foxes (no tracks on the mix but the cover is fleet foxes) one of my favourite recent music discoveries. Saw them in manchester last year and they were incredible - check em out if you haven't already.

    Not posted for a while - got a few mixes to catch up on so will post when iv'e listened to em all!

    On a folky tip Ion -recently discovered 'Edward Sharpe and the magnetic zeros' - you heard of em? brilliant uplifting melodic music - check out the home track for a taste.

    Nice one

  6. Wow, just got time to catch up. As a child I remember that Matty Groves track being played live at Cropredy. The imagined village stuff is lovely as well. Good stuff. Thanks for putting this together.


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