Thursday, July 19, 2007


"Doin' the Manch" 1988

Mel Howley:
It was way back in 1988 that Keith and Val Marsden, Graham Pirt, and John O'Hagan went into Paul Adams' Fellside studio to record this album, some three years before Keith's sad and untimely demise, due to a heart attack.

'The Manch' is a major road in Bradford, now much changed, but once renowned for the number of pubs on it - 27 or 28, depending on how you counted! Either way a drink in each was quite a challenge, and this clever and witty song is typical of Keith's skills as a wordsmith. But they weren't all funny. Keith also had a serious side to his writing - there is the pathos of 'Morley Main', just a "small" mining disaster; the class distinction within the mill working against true love in 'Willy-Ole Lad'; and the sad twists of fate that befall a man's retirement from a life working in 'Prospect Providence'. The horrors and waste of the 'Great' war are addressed in 'Normandy Orchards', with more recent social and political comment in 'Knocking At The Door' - prompted by the Thatcher Years. Keith's songs are underpinned by the skills of a fine wordsmith and an astute observer, and are immensely singable. But besides Keith's songs this CD has a mix of traditional and contemporary songs, thoughtful and well-balanced, which allowed Cockersdale to display that wonderful harmony singing which made them firm favourites at clubs and festivals up and down the country. Bellamy's 'Black and Bitter Night' stands out, as does Sarah Morgan's adaptation of 'Home Lads Home', but there isn't a weak song on this recording!

The CD is part of Fellside's 25th Anniversary Reissue Series, and as my Cockersdale vinyl has definitely seen better days this is a very welcome replacement, especially with the bonus of the three additional live tracks, and Fellside's usual attention to production values. Excellent songs, excellent singing, excellent CD!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for Cockersdale as they are fantastic. Normandy Orchards is about the 2nd World War,mostly about the Americans that came over to England prior to the D-Day landings.

20 July, 2007 18:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice. Thanks

Agree 'Normandy Orchards' is about WW2, there was no fighting in Normandy in WW1 (and no tank transporters)

Yours in padantry-partnership :)

20 July, 2007 21:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pEdantry :)

20 July, 2007 23:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks. CDs available on Cockersdale appeared at the Cambridge Folk Festival about this time, with Jack Ashton, The Willy Ole Lad and the Wedding Song - not on this album - being all I remember. The performance, broadcast by BBC Radio Folk on 2, was full of life and vigour, sadness and humour. Their very best performance for me.

Also very recommended from the same time - Scold's Bridle.

23 July, 2007 02:51  
Blogger uk folk fan said...

Thanks, Really love this album. I didn't realise Keith Marshall was such a great songwriter.

06 August, 2007 22:17  
Anonymous Draeger said...

Hi Lizardson,

Do you still have the 'Doin the Manch' album file? Having trouble getting it from the link you provided. Could you share it again please? Been a fan of Cockersdale after hearing it in Danmark Folk Radio.

Many thanks!

12 May, 2010 13:16  
Blogger Lizardson said...

12 May, 2010 19:28  

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