Mudcat Café message #2205587 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #106522   Message #2205587
Posted By: dick greenhaus
30-Nov-07 - 12:05 PM
Thread Name: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
Jim-
I'll answer as best I can.

"For as long as I have been interested in traditional singers it has been the general belief of those I have discussed the subject with that the recordings available on Folktrax (and now Camsco) are more-or-less the same as those collected by the BBC project in the first half of the 1950s.
If this is the case (and it should be easy enough to establish, should anybody wish to make the effort), it gives rise to a number of questions:
1. How did such an important collection fall into private hands?
          I SIMPLY DON'T KNOW.

2. What part did the main instigators of the project (BBC EFDSS) play the use that was made of it?
       AGAIN, I SIMPLY DON'T KNOW
3. Does the general access to that collection reflect its importance as a body of traditional culture?
         I FEEL THAT THEY"RE IMPORTANT-- THAT'S WHY CAMSCO BECAME INVOLVED IN REPACKAGING AND RERELEASING THEM. KENNEDY (AS FOLKTRAX) WAS SELLING THEM, BUT IN A FORM THAT WAS UNSALEABLE TO AMERICAN CUSTOMERS--NO DISK LABELS, NO JEWEL CASES, NO ARTWORK, POORLY XEROXED NOTES.   
4. In what form is that collection held (acetate/vinyl disc, reel-to-reel tape, cassette, digital, (m.p.3 player)); in what conditions have the recordings been stored and what is their state?

       UPON PETER KENNEDY'S DEATH, THE ENTIRE COLLECIION WAS TURNED OVER TO TOPIC (I DON'T KNOW JUST WHAT THE ARRANGEMENT WAS.) AS I UNDERSTAND IT, ALL THE RECORDINGS ARE IN DIGITAL FORM ON A COMPUTER HARD DRIVE.

5. Does the collection consist of anything but the artefacts (songs, tunes, stories, lore etc.) or were the informants interviewed by the collectors and do the original recordings contain valuable information on the tradition if so, where are they?
            I HAVE NO IDEA. YOU MIGHT ASK TOPIC.

6. Were the other collectors on the project consulted about what
should happen to the material; if so, what was their response?
          AGAIN, I HAVE NO IDEA   


7. And finally, the $64,000 question - what now are we really going to have to settle for being given access to these recordings only if they are made available by companies who have stated that they will only release them if they are guaranteed a return on their investment in other words, is the situation going to remain the same as it has been for the last half century?
          TOPIC HAS AGREED THAT CAMSCO CAN CONTINUE SELLING THE FOLKTRAX RECORDINGS AT LEAST UNTIL 2009, WHEN TOPIC PLANS TO RELEASE
A SELECTION (PROBABLY A MULTI-CD SET) FROM THEM> CAMSCO HAS AGREED TO CONTINUE PAYING THE LICENSE FEE, PREVIOUSLY PAID TO MR. KENNEDY, TO TOPIC. CAMSCO HAS FURTHER STATED THAT WE HAVE NO INTEREST IN PUBLISHING MATERIAL THAT TOPIC IS DOING--I'M SURE THAT THEY CAN DO A BETTER JOB THAN CAMSCO CAN--BUT TOPIC HAS AGREED THAT WHEN THEY PUBLISH A "BEST OF" COLLECTION, CAMSCO CAN PUBLISH THE "REST OF".

RE: COMMERCIAL VIABILITY. I CAN'T SPEAK FOR TOPIC, BUT THE "COMMERCIALLY VIABLE" BREAKPOINT FOR AN OUTFIT LIKE CAMSCO (AND THERE ARE A FEW OTHER SMALL OUTFITS WITH SIMILAR VIEWS) IS WHEN THERE'S ENOUGH INTEREST TO COVER PRODUCTION COSTS, IF WE THINK THE MATERIAL IS WORTH DISSEMINATING.

Please don't get me wrong; I have no desire to denigrate the work that Peter Kennedy and his team carried out on our behalf. Many/most of the folkies of my generation took their inspiration from 'As I Rode Out', 'The Song Carriers' and the FSB series, and I for one will be eternally grateful for the fact that such a valuable and important treasure was saved for the nation, and for the access (albeit limited) I have been given to it.
But isn't it time that we now took a responsible attitude towards a body of work that has, to date, been under-valued, and in some cases abused?"
            FRANKLY, I THOUGHT (AND STILL THINK) THAT WAS WHAT I'M DOING.

Pardon the shouting, but I'm just trying to differentiate responses from questions

dick greenhaus
CAMSCO Music