RALPH MCTELL AND WIZZ JONES – About Time (Leola Music TPGCD37)

About Time 2016Fifty years ago Wizz Jones invited Ralph May down to Cornwall to play at the Folk Cottage. May decided to change his name to McTell and the rest is history…except that they never made an album together. Until now. About Time is a selection of old favourites – you’ll find some tracks on their studio albums – and some that I think they’ve taught each other recently.

This is an album of two old friends making music together. There are two guitars, a banjo and a harmonica and two voices swapping lead and harmony vocals. No egos were bruised in the making of About Time. The set starts with a languid, almost lazy, take of the traditional ‘Honey Baby Blues’. McTell takes the lead vocal and harmonica part and the song rolls along but what immediately grabs the attention is the harmony singing – you’d think they’d been doing it for years.

Jones is up next with ‘Out Of The Snow’, which sounds old but was written by Russell Smith of The Amazing Rhythm Aces and which suits Wizz’s gentle warm voice perfectly. Then another blues, Blind Blake’s ‘You’re Gonna Quit Me Baby’, before we come to ‘Deportees’. This is song that can drag, partly because of the weight of the subject matter but Ralph and Wizz give it the lightest of touches. The waltz time is emphasised and a couple of notes are subtly altered, just enough to make you listen with new ears. It’s brilliant.

The mood lightens for a while; ‘Diamond Joe’ and ‘Old Rattler’s Pup’ are both fun before Townes Van Zandt’s ‘If I Needed You’. There has to a Dylan cover and here is one of my favourites, ‘Abandoned Love’. It’s a new song to Ralph who takes the lead and enthuses over the chord pattern. There is a co-write with Jones’ long-time song provider Alan Tunbridge, Uncle Dave Macon’s ‘Morning Blues’ and, to close, ‘I Never Did Sing You A Love Song’ by David Nichtern who, bizarrely, also wrote the soundtrack for American Pie. Where that one came from is anyone’s guess.

About Time is a rather low-key celebration of Ralph McTell’s fifty years in music – his major retrospective, The Journey, celebrated his fortieth anniversary – and Wizz’s approximately sixty years if you count The Wranglers back in 1957. Perhaps we should push the boat out for him next year. It is, however, entirely appropriate for two guys who haven’t forgotten where their music came from. It’s a bloody good record, too.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

About Time

Artists’ websites: www.ralphmctell.co.uk   http://www.wizzjones.com

Ralph and Wizz in conversation:

The Fairport Convention Interview from St George’s in Beckenham

Fairport at St George’s Festival for Beckenham 2016

It’s funny how some things turn out, when your path takes you somewhere that you were not expecting to go. It all started in the Kensington Village Hall (as Mr. Steve Knightley would call it) at that amazing Ralph McTell Albert Hall concert on the 12th May. I found myself sitting next to Ken Maliphant completely by chance. We got talking, and he told me about the St George’s Festival for Beckenham and mentioned that Fairport were playing on the 4th June and Ralph McTell on the 24th as part of it.

Now, Ken can spin many a “Tipplers Tale” and his story is very much interwoven with Fairport’s and the album of that name. Ken actually worked for the final record label the band was signed to at the end of the Seventies. In fact, as Dave Pegg mentioned last night, the Cropredy festival has a lot to thank Ken for as he was the main driving force behind organising the settlement figure when the label refused to fund another Fairport album. It was that settlement that financially built the first building blocks for the Cropredy festival we so love today.

After receiving the news on Friday about the sad loss of one my of my all time musical heroes Dave Swarbrick, this concert and the journey to it became a personal pilgrimage to celebrate the man and his music.

In my opinion, Swarb was the finest of English folk fiddlers and one of the most colourful characters that you will ever find on the English traditional and folk/rock music scene. He was a major facet to the gem that set me on my folk music journey all those years ago and a true inspiration to all of us at folking.com. Rest in Peace Swarb, you will be greatly missed. Keep those angels feet a dancing and that timeless twinkle of mischief in you eyes.

David Cyril Eric Swarbrick RIP
5th April 1941 – 3rd June 2016

Paul Johnson and I caught up with Gerry Conway, Chris Leslie and Ric Sanders before the concert last night and we recorded the interview below. Click on the play button to listen.

Interview reference links:

A truly wonderful tribute to Swarb from Maart

Darren Beech

SANDY DENNY – I’ve Always Kept A Unicorn (Island 536 735-0)

I've Always Kept A UnicornWhat can I say that hasn’t been said a thousand times before? There’s the problem. I have to confess that I’m sometimes uneasy about the way that Sandy Denny’s catalogue has been managed. There are just three tracks among the forty presented here that haven’t been released before and they are demos from The Bunch album. Which means that the barrel has been well and truly scraped clean. There is nothing of any significance left to unearth.

The two CDs are arranged chronologically and present Sandy in acoustic mode – demos, radio sessions and stripped down masters – to offer “the best album Sandy Denny never made”. If you have a taste for Sandy rocking her socks off on ‘Down In The Flood’ you’re out of luck here. The first track is her best known song, ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’, recorded in 1967 with The Strawbs. The notes are vague about its origins but it isn’t the version that appears on the album and I suppose that it was possible to extract it from the three-track master. What it is, however, is the voice that Dave Cousins fell in love with, young, fresh and clear and it can be argued that this is the best version of the song that you will ever hear.

With All Our Own Work failing to get a release, Sandy returned to the folk clubs, recording two albums with Alex Campbell and Johnny Silvo and these are represented by two songs written by her then boyfriend, Jackson C Frank. Then Fairport Convention – two demos and two masters which presumably preceded the band’s involvement. Fotheringay is next with two demos and two radio sessions presenting Sandy solo. ‘The Lowlands Of Holland’, solo and unaccompanied, is particularly lovely.

The next six tracks come from her first solo project – two demos, a radio session and three from the BBC’s In Concert programme and the first disc closes with the three demos from The Bunch – guitar and vocal tracks featuring Linda Peters on ‘When Will I Be Loved’.

The second set continues Sandy’s solo career and adds her second stint with Fairport. It opens with ‘Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood’, which the band tried out but which Sandy eventually took for herself. Here are some of her best known songs including possibly the best ever version of ‘Bushes And Briars’, more up-tempo than we are used to. It comes from a radio session as does an equally superb piano-led ‘Solo’. There is a piano demo of ‘The End’ which flashes past for all its seven and a half minutes.

The Fairport tracks are all demos, including ‘Rising For The Moon’, ‘One More Chance’ and ‘What Is True?’ but, sadly, no ‘Stranger To Himself’. Oh well, you can’t have everything. The next two tracks are live from Marc Time and I still find the idea of Denny and Bolan in the same studio a bit mind-boggling. Quite what his teenage audience made of ‘Blackwaterside’ I can’t imagine. Sadly, Marc’s introductions are not included. The final track is the last that she ever recorded, Bryn Haworth’s ‘Moments’. This is one of three demos made and features Ralph McTell on guitar.

So, how is my unease?  This set has been put together with a specific purpose and that is to present Sandy’s timeline in solo, acoustic performances. The mastering is excellent – a big hand for Paschal Byrne here – Mick Houghton’s sleeve notes are written from an expert perspective, there are some good photos and it’s true that some of Sandy’s best performances here. I guess that’s good enough.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Website: http://www.sandydennyofficial.com/

‘Late November’ – live in London, 1971:

What A Week

SidmouthSo, we’ve come to the end of a fantastic celebration of 60 years of the folk, dance and song festivals in Sidmouth. What a week!

We have been blessed with summer holiday weather, helping to create a joyful festive atmosphere throughout the town  – busy, colour-filled streets, packed venues and a bustling seafront. Tens of thousands of visitors have filled the streets and venues throughout the week, enjoying the welcoming, party atmosphere.

Even when it did rain, the packed out open-air 60th Anniversary Old Swan Band ceilidh was very swiftly moved indoors as the heavens temporarily opened on Tuesday night… and up-and-running again in no time.

We have enjoyed some cracking performances, from the sell-out Ham Concerts from the likes of Ralph McTell, Oysterband and Steve Knightley to the small traditional sessions to the full on roots mayhem of Danish party band Habadekuk, the family fun at Blackmore Gardens, or the ever popular John Gasson Memorial Jig Competition! Diversity is the bedrock of Sidmouth FolkWeek. And for our 60th birthday, we had it in bucket and spadefuls: our ‘something for everyone’ promise being more than fulfilled and venues throughout the town full to the brim! Continue reading What A Week

Beverley Martyn: NEW ALBUM ANNOUNCED + TRACK STREAM

Beverley MartynBeverley Martyn started her musical career at just 16 with the jug band The Levee Breakers and recorded her first single “Babe I’m Leaving You” in 1965. In 1966 she was chosen to launch Deram Records and released a single, “Happy New Year” written by Randy Newman. She contributed to the Simon & Garfunkel album Bookends, toured America with the duo and later appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival on 16 June 1967.

In 1969 she met John Martyn, whom she later married. As a duo they issued two albums, Stormbringer! and The Road to Ruin. Although she was spending more time with her children, Beverley continued to contribute to John’s solo projects until the breakdown of their marriage.

At various times, Martyn has worked with Levon Helm, Jimmy Page, Dave Pegg, Richard Thompson, John Renbourn, Ralph McTell, Davy Graham, and Sandy Denny. She appeared in the photograph on the album sleeve of Bert Jansch’s 1965 album It Don’t Bother Me; where she can be seen lounging in the background.  In December 2013, Beverley appeared at the Royal Festival Hall as part of a celebration of Bert Jansch, alongside friends and contemporaries such as Donovan, Martin Carthy, Pentangle and Robert Plant. Her powerhouse performance of “” was described by Mojo as ‘sounding almost Janis Joplin-esque’.  A film of the event is due to be shown by the BBC in the spring. Continue reading Beverley Martyn: NEW ALBUM ANNOUNCED + TRACK STREAM

Blockbuster FolkWeek 60th Anniversary Acts Announced!

2014LOGO_chair_60th_distressed_lo_res_2Diamond anniversary plans continue to fall into place for Sidmouth FolkWeek’s 60th festival (1st – 8th August 2014) as the line-up comes to fruition, featuring both gems from the archives – tapping the rich seam of vintage talent that has contributed to the festival’s glory down the years – and a hand-picked selection of the stars of the future.

SHOWSTOPPING HEADLINERS…
We are delighted to announce that one of the UK’s greatest musical storytellers, Ralph McTell, will be joining us for a rare and very special appearance at our Pre Festival Special on Thursday 31 July.
Celebrating more than 40 years on the road himself, Ralph is a Sidmouth veteran, having played at the Arena for the 50th festival in 2004. A Lifetime Achievement Award winner at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Ralph is renowned for both his virtuoso guitar style and his gift as a songwriter, most notably the poignant Streets of London.
Continue reading Blockbuster FolkWeek 60th Anniversary Acts Announced!