Booklet Notes From UNEARTHED


This compilation is the continuation of a project started by Dave Emery, (who produced the In Search of album and mastered several tracks used here), and taken up by Ralph Jordan when Dave wanted his life back, as does Ralph after this!  Since the issue of In Search of, more recordings have been made available to us and we have been able to include the best of them here.  Unearthed is a collection mainly of previously unreleased material plus live versions of personal favourites and ones that we have been repeatedly asked to include. 

 

 

With many thanks to:

 

Dave Emery, engineer for Rufford Park Poachers, archiving and mastering of tapes, and for his time and continued support; Paul Adams for supplying the recording of Warlike Lads of Russia, engineered by Bernard Whitty, and for assistance and advice over the years.

 

Stefano Bolzanella, Richard Callison, Bob Elliott, Stephan Grossman, John Leonard, Duncan McLennan, Enrico Nuti, Jeff Pollard, Dave Moore, Alejandro Roja, the West Australian Folk Federation for the recordings used in this compilation and all those good people, too numerous to mention by name, who also sent tapes in order to help with this project.

 

Martin for his digital wizardry; Tony, Helen and Peter for the artwork and layout. 

 

Joe for unrivalled skills in arbitration during this project, thus preventing his mother from divorcing his father!   

 

Finally, a big thank you to Ralph for constructive input, time committed, patience sorely tested and technical skills employed in producing this CD.    

 

 


Track notes

 

My approach to learning songs was quite undisciplined and somewhat lazy.  I used to trawl through a variety of books such as the Child Ballads, Christies Traditional Ballad Airs, Bronson and the EFDSS Folk Song Journals, listen to old recordings of traditional singers.  Rather than conscientiously learn the songs by writing them down and working out the accompaniment, I tended to absorb them over a period of time.  Add the facts that I couldn’t read music very well and had a terrible memory even then, the end result was words and tunes were not always remembered correctly nor, in some cases, were the sources.  Oh dear, Rue the Day (Rocking the Cradle), Bonny George Campbell, Fare Thee Well My Dearest Dear, Dives and Lazarus, Nine Times a Night and William of Winesbury (Willie o’ Winsbury/ Winesberry) are such songs.  ~  Another example is The Prickly Bush, pulled out from distant memory on the spur of the moment (they asked me to sing something jolly!) during a set I was doing at a club in Holland, from whence this recording came.  ~  Barbara Ellen is a widely travelled song spawning many versions and I have a vague recollection of this one being an American variant.

 

I do remember getting Yarmouth Town from Peter Bellamy, a diversely talented and creative man, whose singing I loved and whose humour just used to crack me up.  Always a supportive and loyal friend to us through good and bad times, we miss Peter very much and I include my singing of it here purely as a tribute to him.  ~   Rufford Park Poachers was learned from the singing of Joseph Taylor during one of my trips to C# House.  This rather self-indulgent recording was the result of Dave Emery using me as a guinea-pig for testing his new (then) recording equipment. The Wanton Seed comes from the Hammond & Gardiner manuscript collection.  ~  This adaptation of Ten Thousand Miles is a bit of a pic’n’mix from variants of Turtle Dove, Lonesome Dove, True Lover’s Farewell, but is probably closest to the variant collected by Cecil Sharp from a Mrs Rosie Hensley of Carmen in North Carolina in l916.  ~  For Annachie Gordon I adapted the tune found in Christie’s Traditional Ballad Airs and collated verses from Lord Saltoun & Auchanachie (Buchan’s Ballads of the North of Scotland), Young Annochie (Murison MS), and Lord Saltoun & Annachie (Christie’s Traditional Ballad Airs). ~  The only time I received a negative reaction from Julia when she listened to any of the test pressings of my albums was “I don’t like what you’ve done to Clyde Water (Drowned Lovers), you’ve trivialized it”.  Pained me to admit it, but I had to agree, so for her I’ve included a version of the way I usually did it.  I can’t remember exactly the source of the text, probably verses adapted from Child via Bronson via Christie – the tune could have been from the latter or maybe it was just one of those I cobbled together or made up! 

 

Possibly to the consternation of some, I often deliberately altered or re-wrote words and tunes of traditional songs, although I did try to keep it very much in sympathy with the original.  Broadsides, however, offered a good source of ballads without such constraints and gave me the freedom to compose around the text without offence.  Described on a broadsheet as A new song – Buonaparte’s escape from Russia, I added a few extra words, wrote a tune and called it the Warlike Lads of Russia.  This recording was originally on a compilation album the late Fred Woods brought out called The First Folk Review and subsequently featured on the compilation album Flash Company, recently re-issued by Fellside in celebration of their 25th Anniversary. ~   Billy Don’t You Weep for Me came from a broadside entitled Unfortunate Sally or Billy Don’t You Cry for Me; I wrote the tune in 9/8 time to accommodate the odd metre of the text.

 

Two songs revisited quite a while after I had originally recorded them were Captain Glen and Master Kilby.   Versions of this song entitled either Captain Glen or William Glen appear in both Bronson (found in an appendix to Brown Robyn’s Confession) and in Christie’s Traditional Ballad Airs.  For this version I adapted the text I found on a broadsheet called Captain Glen, which differs slightly from both the Bronson and Christie versions.  The tune used here is an adaptation of the one found in Christie’s.  An EFDSS Folk Song Journal was the source of Master Kilby. 

 

Any song that tells a story, is well crafted and has a good tune is appealing to me.  The Jukebox as She Turned by Jeff Deichman, I learned from the singing of Rick and Lorraine Lee.  Icarus was learned from Anne Lister herself and the Taoist Tale from a Tucker Zimmerman recording.  ~  I am a great admirer of Cyril Tawney’s singing and song-writing and I used to sing a couple of his songs, The Ballad of Sammy’s Bar and On a Monday Morning.  I was outvoted about including this track, which I feel doesn’t do justice to the song.  I mistakenly sang it as an overly serious ballad rather than what it really is, a humourous song, so if you haven’t heard Cyril sing it, I urge you to get a copy of one of his albums. ~  Although I’m a Bob Dylan fan, it was actually my friend and co-Bandoggs member, Tony Rose, who knocked me out with his singing of Boots of Spanish Leather which really brought the song to life for me.  Tony recently re-recorded it for his latest album Old Bones. ~ I started singing I’m Going in a Field by Ivor Cutler because it summed up my life’s philosophy, however, having recently heard a recording of Ivor singing it, I think I was thinking about something entirely different to him!  This is the only recording we could find and as I like the song so much I wanted it included, breaking guitar string and all.  My apologies to Ivor for getting the words wrong.  ~  Any parent will recognise Repetitive Story Syndrome – you ask your children what story they would like tonight and it’s the same one they wanted last night and for the past fortnight.  After a few standard readings, to alleviate the tedium for myself and to amuse them, I would give the story a different ending maybe, embellish or change the story a bit (no change there then) or make up a little song.  So it was with Rapunzel, a favourite fairytale of Helen’s, with which I got a little carried away.  Fortunately I restrained myself from developing further ‘Oh why did they have to kill King Kong’, ‘The Great Boffo’s Cycle Race’ and ‘The Ballad of Meg and Mog’. They say you reap what you sow; I have a beautiful but cynical daughter and a son who messes with my songs!  

 

Roxburgh Castle, Plains of Boyle, Hamburger Polka, Sonny Brogan’s Mazurka, Love Will You Marry Me and Jimmy Allen are all tunes learned along the way from a variety of sources, but which came from where I cannot remember!

 

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