Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ian Campbell Folk Group

"Ian Campbell Folk Group with Dave Swarbrick" 1969

Sleeve Notes:
Ian Campbell is one of Britain's leading folksingers and is renowned for his work in recreating and popularising traditional songs. With the Ian Campbell Folk Group he has made countless television and radio broadcasts, and the Groups numerous recordings have made their music known throughout the Continent and the English-speaking world.
Ian Campbell and his group have played a great part in introducing folk-music to children, but although the songs on this record are all taken from a book intended for use in schools they are not in any sense to be regarded as "children's songs". They are thoroughly enjoyable and often socially significant songs which represent the best in traditional and contemporary folk-music, presented with the sensitivity, intelligence and exuberant good-humour which they deserve.
As well as leading the Ian Campbell Folk Group and arranging their songs, Ian is a song writer whose works are sung and recorded by many other contemporary folk musicians. His younger sister Lorna, like him, was born in Aberdeen but now lives in Birmingham; she is accepted as the finest young female folksinger in Britain. The mother of two small children, she is married to Brian Clark, a Londoner who moved to Birmingham to join the Ian Campbell Group; he now specialises in contemporary and humorous songs. Dave Pegg left school in Birmingham to earn his living as a professional musician on double-bass, and it was only after joining the Group that he took up mandola and mandolin also. Andy Smith developed an interest in American folk-music and the five-string banjo, and quickly established an enviable reputation with his dazzling technique on this instrument. He first appeared with the Group a week after visiting the Jug o' Punch, the Campbell Group's famous folksong club in Birmingham, where he found that the Group were looking for a replacement for their previous banjo player. Dave Swarbrick was one of the original members of the Ian Campbell Folk Group but for some years he has been performing as a soloist or in partnership with singer Martin Carthy. He is generally accepted as Britain's most exciting young folk musician; on this record he renews his old association with Ian Campbell.

Ian Campbell—vocals
Lorna Campbell—vocals
Brian Clark—vocals, guitar
Dave Pegg—contrabass, mandola
Andy Smith—banjo, guitar
Dave Swarbrick—fiddle, mandolin

Beggin' I Will Go:
In the Middle Ages beggars formed a much larger part of our population, and begging could be a very respectable calling. In Scotland, where there was no Parish Relief, a limited number of beggars wore actually licensed by the King. The hero of our song was not one of these King's Bedesmen but a member of a much larger and less reputable freelance fraternity.

Sugar Candy:
A lullaby said to be based on the street-cry of Robert Cohort, who sold boiled sweets in the streets of the Border towns before the First World War.

Wild Colonial Boy:
Australia has many songs about the hush-rangers, lawless men who wore often escaped convicts, and who lived by the gun and held the countryside to ransom. These men were often regarded as heroes in the Robin Hood mould and received help and encouragement from the poor settlers, many of whom were familiar with the penal settlements. Several sources claim that the Donahoe-Colonial Boy saga was originally sung, as it is hero, to the tune of The Wearing of tlie, Green, but because of its association with the Irish rising of 1798 the tune was banned by the Australian government and its use became a punishable offence.

About half of the traditional songs ever collected in Scotland were found in the Buchan district of Aberdeenshire, where this song comes from. The tune and some of the words given here are from the singing of Norman Kennedy the Aberdeen folksinger; the rest of the words are from the collection of Gavin Grieg.

Here Come the Navvies:
Using a traditional Irish tune, Ian Campbell wrote this song for a radio programme about the men who built the canals.

The Jolly Herring:
Despite its apparently trivial words this song has considerable symbolic significance for the people of those sea-faring communities for whom the herring was the staff of life and the source of all prosperity.

The Fireman's Song:
The words and music of this song are by Don Bilston, a Birmingham engine-driver who has spent his life working on the railway and now gives artistic expression to the life of the loco-man.

The Praties They Grow Small:
A song that came out of the dreadful period of the potato famine when many Irish people were faced with the choice of starvation or emigration. Ireland’s population was reduced by a third and has never since regained its former proportions.

The Kerry Recruit:
This song illustrates another way out for the struggling Irish farm labourers. Having served their purpose in the Army the survivors were given back to their country, often wounded or crippled, with no prospect but to join the begging fraternity.

The Barrin' o' the Door:
A traditional Scottish song which tells of a minor engagement in the age-long battle of the sexes.

Eight Shillings a Week:
This dales from the winter of 1830, when starving farm-workers in the Southern Counties riotously demonstrated for a basic wage of half-a-crown a day. They committed a breach of the peace but otherwise harmed no one, yet after the demonstrations three of them were hanged and over four hundred were transported. At that time a loaf of bread cost a shilling.
The Coast of Peru: A stark song about an everyday incident in a bloody and wasteful trade.
Ian Campbell

Sample pic: 1, 2

"The Sun is Burning" 1970

Ian Campbell—vocals
Lorna Campbell—vocals
Brian Clark—vocals, guitar
John Dunkerley—banjo, guitar

Sleeve Notes:
Come Kiss Me, Love:
I cannot claim authorship of this song, merely the credit for bringing its component parts together. The tune comes from an American folksong called Peggy Gordon, which is an emigrant version of the English traditional song The Banks of the Sweet Primroses, and the words were patched together from various traditional sources. In reassembling traditional elements in this fashion I have merely helped to perpetuate a process to which folksongs have always been subject, and which has been responsible for many of the variants which have added to the richness of our tradition.

The Snow Is Falling:
The symbolic use of the seasons of the year to represent the phases of a love affair is an artistic concept which has become respectable with age. I lost interest in my original tune and came to prefer this one by John Dunkerley; the orchestral textures of Bill Le Sage add. I think. another dimension.

Old Man's Tale:
Written after an enjoyable evening spent with some Old Age Pensioners in Birmingham. The tune is from the cornkister, Nicky Tams.

I Don't Know:
As far as I know the words and music of this song are original. This is always a dangerous claim to make, because all songwriters have had the experience of burning midnight oil on the creation of a masterpiece which, on its first performance to a critical friend, is immediately recognised as a currently popular song. I once sat up all night writing a song which I later recognised as The Water is Wide. Still, as far as I know . . .

Alexander Somerville, Dragoon:
I was moved by the story of the Scottish country boy who became a dragoon in the Scots Greys and was flogged in 1832 for expressing his sympathy for the Chartist demonstrators. It seemed irrelevant that in later life Somerville became a journalist of eccentrically reactionary ideas; I suspect that the flogging which failed to break his spirit may well have broken his mind. I tried to write the song in a style which would reflect the period, and composed a tune intended to stand on its own when played on fife and drum.

The Sun Is Burning:
This was probably the first lyric anti-war song to achieve popularity and wide circulation in the British CND movement. The demonstrators marched to the strains of The H Bombs Thunder, but when circumstances called for something less rousing and more introspective this, I am proud to say, was the song that in the early days often met the need. It was written for Lorna and she has made it uniquely her own.

Lover, Let Me In:
John brought this Bosnian folk tune back from a holiday in Jugoslavia and I liked it enough to attempt to write a set of words. I based it on a half-remembered Czechoslovakian song, but it is also reminiscent of many British night-visiting songs like The Spinning Wheel and Are Ye Sleeping, Maggie?

A Hard Life On The Cut:
Written for "A Cry From the Cut", a BBC radio-ballad type of programme produced by Charles Parker.

I Just Can't Wait:
For many years I worked as a craftsman in the Birmingham jewellery trade, where loyalty and skill are notoriously underpaid. Out of those years, and some of the men I worked with, came the words of this song. One of my workmates was John Dunkerley, who wrote the tune.

The Man In Black:
It has been pointed out to me that in parts of Ireland a priest is sometimes referred to as the Man in Black. This is mere coincidence; my Man in Black is not intended to symbolise the organised church, nor The Bomb, nor pollution, nor racial intolerance, although he can be any or all of these. The song only says that the Man in Black, whatever form he takes, is the product of wilful ignorance: that our world is being poisoned not by THEM but by you and I and the other ordinary people who fiddle while Rome burns.

Apprentices Song:
This was written some years ago for the apprentice fitters at Birmingham's Saltley Gasworks, which has now been displaced by North Sea Gas.

Talking Blackbird:
I wrote this after reading in a nature magazine about the treatment meted out to an albino blackbird by its own kind. Perhaps because of its length I have tended to neglect this song, but I suspect I would perform it oftener if I could carry Bill Le Sage's up-dated talking-blues backing around with me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

IMO the best of Campbell's albums. Anyone has any better sounding version of this? Vinyl is a bit noisy at times.
Thanks so much for the blog, Lizardson

08 November, 2006 19:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Occidental Mythology A few weeks later, the Great Depression began. Campbell would spend the next five years (1929-1934) trying to figure out what to do with his life (Larsen and Larsen, 2002:160) and engaging in a period of intensive and rigorous independent study. Campbell discussed this period in The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work (1990, first edition:52-3). Campbell states that he "would divide the day into four four-hour periods, of which I would be reading in three of the four hour periods, and free one of them...I would get nine hours of sheer reading done a day. And this went on for five years straight."

He also traveled to California for a year (1931-32), continuing his independent studies and becoming close friends with the budding writer John Steinbeck and his wife Carol (Larsen and Larsen, 2002, chapters 8 and 9). Campbell also maintained his independent reading while teaching for a year in 1933 at the Canterbury School during which time he also attempted to publish works of fiction (Larsen and Larsen, 2002:214) .

04 February, 2007 14:52  
Blogger cje said...

Suspect most will find the production on "The Sun is Burning" album too sweet and smooth-and the singing a bit 'mannered'.
But for me it's a guilty treat-especially 'I don't know' and 'The Man in Black' (2nd best song with that title).

02 February, 2010 07:36  
Blogger evision said...

29 March, 2010 12:41  
Blogger evision said...

29 March, 2010 13:09  

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