Some fine vintage folk in this week’s mix from the likes of Sandy Denny, Michael Raven and Joan Mills, Skara Brae and more. There is some dabbling in psych courtesy of Ben Tweddell’s Twelve Hides which was released in August as well as Toby Hay’s new EP which we recently featured in an exclusive first listen.
I also managed to include a track from the Junun album by Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood and The Rajasthan Express. If you’ve not seen the documentary on the making of this album, then I highly recommend you take some time out to watch it over the weekend. I’ve been generous with extended notes on this week’s selection below:
Tracklisting and Notes
00:00 Fotheringay – Gypsy Davey
From Fotheringay 2, released on Fledg’ling in 2008 and later in 2015 on Nothing More – The Collected Fotheringay on Island Records (reviewed here). Hard to believe this band lasted less than a year but a dip into Richard Williams’ liner notes on Fotheringay 2 reveals misfortune and bad luck along the way. One particular story that stands out is when the band were booked to headline the Royal Albert Hall and invited a young man to support them. The band’s rhythm section had spent a day working on his demos and were suitably impressed by him…it was Elton John. By the time of the concert he was big news, thanks to his US triumph – he upstaged the band – “Sandy watched in a state of mounting alarm as he conquered Fotheringay’s audience; a sense of anti-climax settled over the remainder of the evening.”
Order Nothing More…here
03:36 Michael Raven and Joan Mills – Death And The Lady
From Death and the Lady, originally released as a run of 250 vinyl copies in 1972 on the Folk Heritage Label (FHR047). It was later re-released on Sunbeam Records. Read about it here | Order it here (remastered).
07:59 Toby Hay – Raven
From Toby Hays’ Birds EP. Toby is a guitarist and composer from near Rhayader in Mid Wales. His influences are incredibly varied as he revealed with this release: Indian Ragas, African Kora music and ancient Welsh harp music from the Robert ap Huw manuscript. Toby’s also responsible for Cambrian Records, a small label with a fantastic roster which includes Jim Ghedi, David Ian Roberts and Rusalnaia (Gillian Chadwick -Ex Reverie and Sharron Kraus). Read more about it here | Order it here: tobyhay.bandcamp.com/album/birds-ep
11:29 Martin Carthy with Dave Swarbrick – Reynardine
Taken from Martin and Dave’s 1969 album Prince Heathen (Fontana). In the sleeve notes for the album, written by Martin Carthy, he wrote of Reynardine:
To the country person, everything around him has its place in the pattern of nature, but the fox seems the odd man out. Among other things, it seems that he kills for no reason, and although this has been explained by diligent study, at one time it had led to people attributing a very sinister aspect to him. He was believed to have magical powers, and there are many stories of foxes appearing as people and threatening them in some evil way (Little Red Riding Hood is one related). The same theme a very debased form was made famous by Lon Cheyne Jr.’s many appearances as the werewolf on film.
14:33 Gillian Welch – Scarlet Town
From The Harrow & The Harvest (2011, Acony Records). This was an unforgettable album as nearly a decade had passed by the time it was released and secondly, from personal memory, the original had this incredibly thick card insert with lovely letterpressed pagan-like artwork by John Dyer Baizley who has more of a connection to the Southern metal scene than folk music. Because of the card thickness, each CD had to have the cover inserted by hand! They made this video about it at the time:
18:05 Vashti Bunyan – Winter Is Blue
From Vashti’s Just Another Diamond Day. It was originally released in 1970but went relatively unnoticed. She apparently managed to meet and show her songs to Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl…Bunyan recalled the meeting did not impress the two. Despite this, the album has grown in stature with a more modern audience. This track was taken from the Spinney Records re-issue in 2000 which featured extra tracks; Winter is Blue was one of them. Order it here.
19:50 Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood and The Rajasthan Express – Hu
From Junun, released on 2015. I saw the documentary for this on iTunes and then promptly went and ordered the album, it’s taken me a damn year to include a track! Here’s a flavour and the DVD is available via iTunes here | Buy the Album via Amazon.
27:31 Twelve Hides – El Assasif
This is from Ben Tweddell who some of you may know as ex-guitarist of Cornish folk band Thistletown. The album also featured vocals from Thistletown’s Tiffany Williams as well as Buck Curran of Arborea who we recently interviewed here. If you love acid folk, then you can lose yourself in this one quite happily. Grab it here: twelvehides.bandcamp.com
35:15 Ryley Walker – Griffiths Bucks Blues
An artist I keep re-visiting, this is from Walker’s 2015 Primrose Green, an album I continually return to with frequent plays on my turntable. As Neil said in his review…he was born clutching a fret board and has never let go. Order it via Amazon.
37:55 Hamish Imlach – Black Is the Colour
This was taken from Cod Liver Oil and Orange Juice – The Transatlantic Anthology, if you get one Imlach album, this is the one. For all the comedy on that double CD, I still find his version of Black is the Colour the most moving. It featured on his self-titled album on Xtra. John Martyn wrote of him:
“If it hadn’t been for Hamish and his encouragement and patience with younger musicians, there would be far fewer musicians about, myself included. And Hamish had a great influence in bringing humour into folk music. The Big Yin wouldn’t have become the Big Yin without the Fat Yin.”
He died in 1996 at the age of 55, in 1992 he published his autobiography “Cod Liver Oil & The Orange Juice: Reminiscences of a Fat Folk Singer.” Described as outrageous, disgusting, brutally honest and totally hilarious it told the story of the ‘itinerant funny man whose outsize shape and matching personality gave him a unique profile.’ When first published in 1992 it featured for three months in lists of Scotland’s best-selling books. Grab a copy for your Kindle here | Order the Album Here.
40:25 Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Woody Guthrie – Railroad Bill
I managed to find this track on a ridiculously cheap digital compilation titled
100 Essential Classics – Very Best Of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott & Bob Dylan. I liked it for the live feel of the whole thing…
43:38 Christy Moore – Riding the High Stool
This is the only track that’s spoken rather sung in the mix, yet Christy Moore has such a unique delivery he makes this song all the more powerful. It’s taken from his 2013 album Where I Come From, a triple CD release in which he says of Riding the High Stool – “I’ve had a couple of stabs at singing this lyric, but neither worked to my satisfaction.” As you’ll hear, the decision to speak it was the right decision. Buy Link.
45:40 Skara Brae – Bánchnoic Éireann Ó
From Skara Brae’s self-titled album, originally released in 1971 on Gael-Linn. This moving track was given the longer title on the original of Bánchnoic Éireann Óighe. It’s a stand-out track for me on which they sing unaccompanied with three-part harmony. The group featured Micheal O Domhnaill, his sisters – Triona and Maighread Ni Dhomhnaill, and a friend Daithi Sproule (of Altan), they disbanded in 1972. Buy Link.
49:03 Sandy Denny – Lord Bateman
The mix closes to the same voice that opened it…Sandy Denny. This unaccompanied version of Lord Bateman was from a demo which was a real find as it was thought to have been lost but was found at the very end of a reel labelled as blank: and out of the silence Sandy voice suddenly rang out. It featured on The Notes And The Words: A Collection Of Demos And Rarities. Available via Amazon (Digital / CD).