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GUEST,Jim Carroll Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain (39) RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain 03 Dec 07

It would be extremely misleading to limit the involvement of EFDSS to agreeing "to Peter Kennedy (at that time their employee) taking a sabbatical to work for the BBC instead."
I attended a lecture at VWML years ago where the speaker (Craig Fees, I think - have the recording somewhere) made it fairly clear that EFDSS was far more involved than that. It is inconceivable that such a project should be embarked on without the full co-operation of the organisation representing folk music in the UK.
It is also misleading to put down their 'looking the other way' to their "having no legal interest in the material,". Such an organisation must surely have recognised the importance of the collection and should have had a moral obligation to seeing that it was handled responsibly.
Also, Kennedy's connection with EFDSS and its heirarchy implies (to me at least), some responsibility on their part. Any EFDSS official I ever attempted to discuss the matter with would smile kowingly and 'say nowt'.
However, my suggestion was a rhetorical one. I do not seriously expect the organisation to cough up funding to release the material, any more than I expect the BBC to stir from their long slumber and slay dragons.
You are not correct in saying it would be difficult to identify the recordings as being those made for the BBC. No singer sings the same song the same way twice. It is a fairly easy matter to identify individual performances, particularly where there is background and other superfluous noise. It just takes reasonably concentrated listening.
I don't know what, if any agreement was made with the other collectors, but I seem to remember a longish delay in releasing Bob Copper's recordings on the Topic album 'Songs and Southern Breezes' while negotiations took place with Kennedy.
I do know Seamus Ennis's attitude from first hand; vitriolic would be an understatement, and not just on the use that was made of his field recordings. I was once nŠive enough to mention his fiddle playing as represented on the Folktrax cassette 'Pigeon on the Gate'. Having no idea of its existence, he was livid.
All this aside, you are probably right when you say "the only practical answer seems to be a commercial one," (perhaps convenient is a better word than practical) which is a great shame as it will mean that the bulk of the song and music collection will only be available to the privileged few who happen to be in the vicinity of the B.L. and have a few months on their hands.
This leaves begging the availability of the rest of the collection not widely heard, the ceremonies, customs, beliefs, folk tales, legends and anecdotes - ah well.
I'm not really surprised that the sales have been small, on a number of counts:
1. The recordings I have heard in the past (not Camsco's, which I have not heard) have been of poor quality, badly edited and poorly annotated and packaged, not particularly inspiring.
2. Many people, myself included, have operated a boycott on the cassettes and refused to buy them (rather like South African goods during the Apartheid period).
3. The sale of recordings of source singers has always been pitifully small, with punters choosing 'Martin's', or 'Nic's' or 'Peter's' rather than 'Sam's' or 'Harry's' or 'Bess's' version.
Jim Carroll

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