This is a mix that the late Folk Police Records put together for us back in 2011. It includes notes on each track below.
On the run up to Christmas there will be more.
About the Tracks
Shelagh McDonald – The Dowie Dens of Yarrow (Stargazer, 1971)
A beautiful version of a traditional ballad from the woman tipped to be Scotland’s answer to Joni Mitchell before her abrupt exit from the music scene. Proof, if any was needed, that there should always be a place in folk for funky electric organ. This track is the Folk Police’s favourite folk-rock recording. Ever.
Mick Softley – Ship (Sunrise, 1970)
Epic. Towering. Monumental. Slightly bonkers. Is it folk? Do we care? Whilst we aren’t huge fans of most of Mick’s more troubadour-esque output, in our book this sprawling monster of a song is a space- rock psych-folk classic.
Starless & Bible Black – Up with the Orcadian Tide (7” single, 2007)
Featuring Pete from the Woodbine & Ivy Band in his previous incarnation, this limited edition 7” single from the excellent Static Caravan label is probably Starless’s finest moment.
Malicorne- Quand J’Etais Chez Mon Père (Almanach, 1976)
Folk-rock took a firm hold in France in the mid 70s, and Gabriel and Marie Yacoub’s Malicorne were the undisputed rulers of a scene that spawned a slew of great bands like Sourdeline, La Bamboche, Avaric and Asgard. Their 1976 album Almanach is a must-have addition to any respectable folk-rock collection.
Kiila – Kehotuslaulu (Tuota Tuota, 2009)
The spirit of folk-rock lives on in Finland! Coming out of the vibrant and diverse Finnish freak folk scene, on the Tuota Tuota album, Kiila ease their way towards a more structured sound.
The Woods Band – As I Roved Out (The Woods Band, 1971)
After being two fifths of the first and arguably best version of Steeleye Span, appearing on the masterful Hark! The Village Wait, Gay and Terry Woods carried on where they left off on their 1971 album. Folk-rock never had such a dangerous swagger.
Wolf People – The Banks of Sweet Dundee Part 1(Steeple, 2011)
One of our favourite moments from the 2010 Green Man Festival was watching The Wolf People’s frenzied summoning up of the spirit of ’71. This is a band who live in a special place where afghan coats, patchouli and loon pants never went out of fashion.
The Janet and Johns – I was a Young Man (7” single, 1980)
We know nothing about record, other than the fact that it came out on the independent Vindaloo Records in 1980 and was recently anthologised on the Messthetics 104 compilation of DIY music from South Wales. The label was based in Birmingham and was home to Robert Lloyd’s marvellous Nightingales.
The Straw Bear Band – Lyke Wake Dirge (The Inner Octave, 2011)
Only the Straw Bear Band could turn Lyke Wake Dirge into a stirring Ennio Morricone flavoured spaghetti western romp. A parallel universe folk-rock disco classic.
The Owl Service – Time is Ripe (Echoes from the Mountain, 2011)
More from the consistently brilliant Rif Mountain label. This is the Owl Service’s contribution to Rif Mountain’s tribute to fRoots editor Ian A. Anderson’s 1970s record label, Village Thing, and is a shimmering reading of one of Ian’s best songs.
In Gowan Ring – Hazel Steps (Hazel Steps Through a Weathered Home, 2002)
Possibly one of the architects of the pysch-folk revival, modern American troubadour B’eirth’s In Gowan Ring ploughed a lonely furrow when they first started out. We suspect that this beautiful song owes as much to Simon and Garfunkel as it does to the Incredible String Band.
Silly Wizard – Carlisle Wall (Silly Wizard, 1976)
We knew this Cruel Mother variant from Alasdair Roberts’ version on his No Earthly Man collection of traditional songs. Silly Wizard were one of his key sources. Their version is more low key than Alasdair’s, but is still shot through with a palpable air of dread.
COB – Eleven Willows (Moyshe McStiff and the Tartan Lancers of the Sacred Heart, 1972)
This is from our favourite ever album. After he’d left the Incredible String Band, Clive Palmer eventually found his way down to Cornwall – the two COB albums were amongst the results of this move. Allegedly the band were all living together in a derelict caravan when they went into the studio with Ralph McTell to record this.
John Goodluck – The Lover’s Ghost (The Suffolk Miracle, 1974)
Suffolk folk singer John Goodluck released four albums in the 1970s, all of which are well worth tracking down. We know very little about him other than the fact he is still living quietly in rural Suffolk and is active in Pagan circles. For some reason he recorded for a Macclesfield-based record label.
Bread Love and Dreams – Brother John (Amaryllis, 1971)
A lovely slice of psych-folk whimsy from the Scottish duo. Amaryllis, reissued on the Sunbeam label, is probably the best of their three albums. We were going to include the epic title track but as it’s about 20 minutes long we thought we’d be pushing it!
Steve Ashley – Candlemas Carol (Stroll On, 1974)
The first instalment of our brief foray into seasonal offerings. Steve’s Stroll On is a wonderful album featuring various members of Fairport Convention, where traditional ballads like Lord Bateman rub shoulders with self penned numbers, including this, which features a haunting string arrangement by the late Robert Kirby.
Crazy Man Michael – Winter Song (The Green Light, 2008)
Taken from the Woodbine & Ivy Band’s Michael Doward’s 2008 solo album, and featuring strings that pay homage to Robert Kirby’s arrangements. We love this album and what’s the point in doing a mixtape if you can’t include your mates? Mike is part of Manchester’s Little Red Rabbit Collective.
Carolanne Pegg – Winter People (Carolann, 1973)
The history of Mr Fox usually centres on the songwriting and subsequent solo career of Bob Pegg, and with good reason – he’s probably one of the best songwriters the UK folk revival produced. In feting his Bobness, however, we should not overlook Carolanne Pegg’s one solo album, containing as it does some beautiful and haunting songs delivered in thatvoice.
PG Six – Come In/The Winter it is Past (The Well of Memory, 2004)
We conclude with one of Pat Gubler’s finest moments. Anything with the name PG Six on it is worth listening to, but 2004’s The Well of Memory is probably his finest and folkiest offering.