Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Nic Jones

"In Search of Nic Jones" 1998

Pete Heywood:
The intention in putting together the album was to recreate a typical Nic Jones concert set and in this respect the album gets it spot on including Nic's legendary 'anti false-encore' last song. Whereas most performers would finish off with a crowd rouser, Nic would do the opposite and choose a quiet song. 'Thanksgiving', a song written by Rick Lee, closes the album leaving you satisfied yet looking for more.

The choice of songs on the album is interesting. Most of the songs are traditional but three by modern writers show that Nic had an ear for a good song. 'Texas girl at the funeral of her mother' is a new one on me and of the two instrumental tracks, 'Teddy Bears Picnic' may not be what you would expect. It was very much part of Nic's repertoire though and is a grand version.

For me the highlight of the album is Nic's version of 'Lord Franklin' which is sure to result in a new lease of life for the song. When Paul Brady sang 'Arthur McBride and the Sergeant', his treatment was so different that it became a definitive version. 'Lord Franklin' was not normally in Nic's repertoire, it came as quite a surprise when he heard the tape of it - recorded during a concert in Italy - as he doesn't remember having sung it in public. Perhaps he had some spare time that day and ran through it with the idea of introducing it into his set for variation. Whatever the reason, the result is a performance that sets a new standard.

'Ruins by the Shore' is another highlight. There can't have been too many songs inspired by a scene from Planet of the Apes - this song, I suggest, is a gem. Nic wrote a lot of songs, at one time he set himself a target of writing one a week, but just as he was critical of his own performances which if he didn't get right first time he moved on - most of his songs did not match up to his own exacting standards and he moved on to the next one. 'The Rose of Allendale' is given the Jones treatment which provided the inspiration for Mary Black's version.

Every time you saw Nic there was some noticeable variation in style - he was never one to stick rigidly to an arrangement and his guitar style changed over time. I have yet to sit down and listen to this album alongside Penguin Eggs or The Noah's Ark Trap, or to a muffled live recording we have of Nic at The Kilmarnock Folk Club. For the time being I am not analysing it, I am enjoying it.

The CD is 'album length', about 40 minutes. Since it was released everybody seems to have told Julia that they were disappointed that their particular favourite song was not chosen from the tapes. There are times when more can be less and my reaction when I got to the end of the album was to immediately play it over again. There are yet more gems to follow and because this CD is not a 'best of', future releases are likely to be just as strong.

For Dave Emery, the album was a labour of love. In the sleeve notes he gave his own opinion on the importance of Nic Jones. "When trying to analyse more closely I think that a combination of strengths collaborated to produce the most individual of acoustic music performers. It is his maturity as a singer and guitarist and as a portrayer of a story or message, and his sensitivity which drew in all the strands, together with an almost effortless skill and energy and whose breathtaking performances mark him to this day as one of the most influential and respected performers of his time."


Anonymous Karel said...

Thanks a lot!
Nic is great!

20 June, 2007 02:40  
Anonymous darksun said...


20 June, 2007 02:59  
Anonymous christian said...

hola: really like your blog, very interesting folkish stuff goin on here. just one thing: i'm looking for the jerry moore's ballad from birmingham and cant find it, can you upload it if you have it? :)

20 June, 2007 03:57  
Anonymous Hugh Jorgan said...

Thanks so much for this - I've been a Nic Jones fan for years and never been able to track down any album other than Penguin Eggs.

20 June, 2007 06:09  
Anonymous dan-the-man said...

Thanks a really lot for Nic Jones. Great artist, great music! Would like to hear more of his rare leader records – if possible ...

20 June, 2007 06:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Leader records Nic made are being held back from CD release by Celtic Music, who owns the rights. It boils down to a guy named Dave Bulmer, who holds rights to a large chunk of british folk but is slow to make it available for purchase.

Found this link on another blog discussing this.


Thanks for this. If you like it and can find it for sale, buy it! Nic could use the royalties, so much of his catalog is in limbo and his career was ended by a bad auto accident.

20 June, 2007 13:33  
Anonymous Neville said...

thanks - this is wonderful. If I could second dan-the-man in begging for any of the leader stuff...

20 June, 2007 19:41  
Anonymous Manila said...

Please, please, before you download this album can I refer you to the comments page of another blog (folk yourself) which has also posted a Nic Jones album. I was tempted to cut and paste one of the comments (from a guy called Roger) but I don't have his permission, so please take the time to have a look.

LINK: https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=963834062025291722&postID=189446638322133068

I love this blog, and come back time and again to see what wonders people have dug up. I just think occasionally we should consider the artists who worked so hard to make these albums, and in Nic Jones' case we should be especially careful. I really hope I don't annoy anyone by saying this. It's not my intention.

20 June, 2007 23:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Maila

You certainly have my permission!

I'm just an admirer of Nic's - nothing more.

The realities of Nic's situation are: forced to retire after the car crash and no royalties from the 4 'lost' albums. The 3 'new' albums (this is the first) were produced so people could hear his music and Nic could earn some much-needed income.

I'd just like people to consider either buying the album or sending Nic a UK cheque or IMO for the lost royalties.

Nic Jones C/o Mollie Music, 52 Newlands Drive, York YO10 3HP UK.

I know this could appear hypocritical but Nic is one of the greats and didn't decide to retire so, maybe, it's worth thinking about in this case.

BTW It's a great album - but 'Unearthed' is better IMO



29 June, 2007 15:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meant to say if you do buy this you can buy it through www.nicjones.net and Nic gets more money. If you do decide to pay up for the royalties say it's repaying a loan :)

Just another thought - at least 2 of the 'lost' albums are classics and possibly as good as 'Penguin Eggs'. The 4 lost albums were available on blogs but got zapped. Celtic music / Mr Leader are litigious and have the resources to chase material on the net. Mollie Music is Nic and his wife Julia - they don't have the time / resources to hassle rapidhshare etc hence the 3 new albums being on the web and the 4 lost ones not.


29 June, 2007 15:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doh should have said Mr Bulmer!! Bill Leader is one of the good guys

05 July, 2007 19:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This truly sucks! You're depriving Nic of his income. I hope you can sleep at night, this is all robbery frm the artists!

01 November, 2007 21:42  
Blogger woodbine and ivy said...

This shouldn't be here. Nic doesn't want it here. Does he have to grovel to you personally to stop you stealing his work?


01 December, 2007 10:15  
Anonymous Woodbine said...

You've done the decent thing and removed the link.

Thank you

01 December, 2007 17:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would really like this reupped.

23 December, 2007 03:55  
Anonymous woodbine said...

If you really want it, you can buy it here: http://www.nicjones.net/hats.htm


30 December, 2007 06:29  

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