This is the second in a series of occasional memos to Folk Radio UK from Folk Police Towers. There’s no particular theme going on, but happily we do end up in the USA after a quick side-trip to France…
We kick off with a version of Cyril Tawney’s Sally Free and Easy, from the wonderfully titled ‘A Warm and Yeasty Corner’, one of Alasdair Roberts’ last releases as Appendix Out, and a great taste of things to come.
Cortina Deluxx were the house band at the late lamented Hedge, one of Manchester’s finest folktastic nights out and organised by JoJo Thorne, the band’s singer. They only ever released one e.p. and Ready About? is to these ears the best track.
Belbury Poly have always have a folkish vibe on their releases, and on The Geography, from their latest album, the excellent Belbury Tales, they parade these influences a bit more overtly than usually.
Annemarieke Coenders was half of Dutch folk duo Ygdrassil. Go, from which November Remains is taken, is her first post-Ygdrassil album and it’s a corker – lovely song writing, with a nod across the Atlantic and a nod to the best of the early 70s British female singer songwriters.
True Third Ear Band fans would probably scoff at the choice of Fleance (by the group’s usual standards, it’s virtually a pop song), but it has an enduring psych-folk appeal that makes it hard to resist. Also check out the cracking cover by Bristol’s Hi-Fiction Science.
Crossing La Manche, we have a brief detour into French folk rock of the 70s. By all accounts it was an incredibly fertile scene. Sourdeline were a wonderful band, equally influenced by French traditional music and Bert Jansch. Jean D’Ayme is the title track of their second album – both this album and their debut, La Reine Blanche, have been reissued by Catalan label Guerssen. JP and Catherine from the band are still making music – watch this space for more news!
Meanwhile, I know nothing about Avaric except they were led by one Lionel Baillemont and released two (or possibly three) albums. Il Est Donc Mort Ce Grand Bourbon is from the first album.
Finally we head west to Brittany for a track from Alan Stivell’s seminal 1973 album, Chemins de Terre. Before he got into the new-age pan-Celtic vibe that dogged his later work, Stivell released some of the best folk albums by anyone anywhere, Chemins de Terre being amongst them.
Cold Blows the Night is one of two traditional songs featured on Pamela Wyn Shannon’s lovely Courting Autumn album. And now for the obligatory Folk Police plug: do check out Pamela’s gorgeous Moss Mantra on Weirdlore: Notes From the Folk Underground (FPR 008).
Meg Baird is a fabulous songwriter and interpreter of traditional songs and, of course, is the voice of the mighty Espers – so why pick a cover version of a minor 80s indie hit? Quite simply because The Beatles and the Stones is one of the Folk Police’s favourite recordings of the past twelve months and we think it should be one of yours too.
Allyson Callery is someone else we know very little about other than that her album Winter Island is one to seek out. Young Edwin is the only traditional song on there, but her own song writing more than makes up for that – according to her website she is heavily influenced by her parents’ British folk albums from the 70s. Our kind of musician, then…
Trembling Bells and Bonnie Prince Billy should be a match made in heaven, but to be honest, we haven’t really to grips with the Marble Downs album yet, apart from this track, a ferocious and rather scary reading of Riding, a song that first appeared on the Palace Brothers’ debut album. Don’t have nightmares!
After than, we think a dose of good old-fashioned old-time religion might be just the thing to wash the taste of Riding away. So here’s the incomparable Charlie Parr with a version of Jesus Met the Woman at the Well from his new album, Keep Your Hands on the Plough.
Staying with the theme, One day I Will is Nathan Salsburg’s contribution to the Tompkins Square Records E. C. Ball tribute, Face a Frowning World. E. C. Ball was a Virginian folk, gospel and country singer who, amongst other things, was recorded by Alan Lomax. Nathan Salsburg is a curator and archivist for the Alan Loma Collection and also a fine fingerpicking guitarist. His album, Affirmed, is well worth seeking out.
Finally, in case that’s all too much religion, we leave you with a cautionary tale of when gospel singers go bad from swamp rock genius Tony Joe White. The Gospel Singer, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the brilliant Harry Crews novel of the same name, is taken from his 1973 album, The Train I’m On.
Appendix Out – Sally Free and Easy
Cortina Deluxx – Ready About?
Belbury Poly – The Geography
Annemarieke Coenders and Wim Sebo – November Remains
Third Ear Band – Fleance
Sourdeline – Jean D’Ayme
Avaric – Il Est Donc Mort Ce Grand Bourbon
Alan Stivell – An Hani a Garan
Pamela Wyn Shannon – Cold Blows the Wind
Meg Baird – The Beatles and the Stones
Allyson Callery – Young Edwin
Trembling Bells and Bonnie Prince Billy – Riding
Charlie Parr – Jesus Met the Woman at the Well
Nathan Salsburg – One Day I Will
Tony Joe White – The Gospel Singer