No, but there are some changes taking place at Fellside Recordings Ltd. After 42 years of the business and the release of over 600 albums managing directors, Paul and Linda Adams are wanting to take life a bit easier, move into semi-retirement and transfer some of the work. It is important to stress that the business is not closing nor is it being sold. It will continue in a much more low key way. The changes will affect administration and warehousing plus mail order. From 1 February 2018 warehousing, mail order and website orders will be undertaken by Proper Music Distribution. Other administration duties will be shared by Paul and Linda with the other two directors, Susan Reid and Richard Adams.
The profile and achievements of the company are remarkable when you realise Paul and Linda have run the company virtually single-handed since its inception in 1976. There has been occasional non-fulltime help from a number of students over the years, but the only other help has come from the designer, Mary Blood. The Fellside label is the second biggest independent specialist Folk music label in England and the Lake label is the biggest label for its genre of Jazz in the UK. This is an outstanding achievement for just two people – is there another UK specialist label that has achieved anything similar? Between them the labels have won: 12 Awards for Excellence from the Music Retailers Association; 5 British Jazz Awards (4 for albums, one for ‘Services To British Jazz’); 1 Scottish New Music Award. Paul was given an Honorary Award from the University of Cumbria for services to the Music Industry and Education (Paul: “There aren’t many awards for record producers or recording engineers so I don’t expect anything. This came out of nowhere and was a very touching and special surprise”).
Fellside has launched the careers of leading performers such as Jez Lowe, Brian Peters, Steve Turner, Bram Taylor, John Wright, Sara Grey, Nancy Kerr & James Fagan, Spiers & Boden, Gren Bartley, Tom Kitching, Elbow Jane, James Findlay, The Hut People, Ewan McLennan, Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith and Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar. Fellside has also revived the recording careers of Swan Arcade, Frankie Armstrong, Martyn Wyndham-Read, Bob Fox, Pete Morton as well as launching the solo career of ex-Spinner Hughie Jones. Projects have included albums from both Penguin books of English Folk Songs, Song Links and Child Ballads amongst others. The label also has had an extensive reissue programme of recordings by Peter Bellamy and leading Folk Music revival founding father, A. L. Lloyd. The vast majority of the albums were recorded by Paul. Apart from a handful, all the CDs on both labels were mastered by Paul who trained in CD mastering in 1992.
Lake has had a more reissue bias and has produced acclaimed series such as The Great Revival Series, The Record Supervision Series and the highly acclaimed Potted History Of British Traditional Jazz (which inspired the ‘Trad Jazz Britannia’ programme on BBC4) and its accompanying ‘At A Tangent’ volumes. There has been an extensive reissue programme of the recordings by British Jazz legends Chris Barber, Ken Colyer, Alex Welsh, Acker Bilk, Humphrey Lyttelton. Recordings were made of working bands such as Phil Mason’s New Orleans All-Stars, Sonny Morris & The Delta Jazz Band, The Charleston Chasers, The Fryer-Barnhart International All Star Jazz Band, The Savannah Jazz Band, Spats Langham’s Hot Combination and Hot Fingers groups, The Jake Leg Jug Band, Jeff Barnhart & John Hallam; involvement in this led to 20 years of Paul’s own Lake Records Jazz Band and an interest in vintage recording techniques led to the ‘Vintage Recording Project’ series.
Fellside Recordings acquired the rights to the Traditional Sound Recordings, Brewhouse Music labels plus parts of the 77 Records/Folklore labels. There is a lot of work to do getting the material from these labels plus Fellside and Lake’s back catalogue available for download. Smallfolk was created for a CD of the music from the children’s TV programme Bagpuss; the Midge Bitten label was created as an Indie/Rock label for the band Hayabusa. Fellsongs Publishing is the publishing side of Fellside and associated labels.
What about the future? For a start there are still some albums to do and new ones will appear, but not with the frequency they have been. Fellside will not be taking on any new artists and existing artists may well drift away to other labels. Fellside may undertake the occasional project. The recording facility will continue. Two triple albums have appeared charting the history of Fellside, ‘Landmarks’ (FECD203) and ‘The Journey Continues’ (FECD272) and a third, ‘Destination’ (FECD282), is in preparation. This new one, also a triple for the price of one, will consist mainly of tracks specially recorded by artists who have been associated with the label (plus some archive material). It is due for release around April/May. Artists include Jez Lowe, Pete Morton, Brian Peters, Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, Sara Grey, Spiers & Boden, James Findlay, Spats Langham & Jeff Barnhart, Bobby Eaglesham, Diz Disley, Steve Turner, Rick Kemp, Elbow Jane, Chris Barber, Martyn Wyndham-Read, Nancy Kerr & James Fagan, Bob Fox, Aldridge & Goldsmith…and a host more.
Fellside has attracted many positive comments over the years: “The quality puts most small companies to shame” Music Week, (Fellside); “Everyone at Lake is a bloody good bloke regardless of sex. They’re producing some gorgeous CDs” Allegedly Hot News (Lake).