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Ewan MacColl Biography Launch

Fred McCormick 23 Oct 07 - 12:17 PM
John Routledge 23 Oct 07 - 12:24 PM
Fred McCormick 23 Oct 07 - 02:11 PM
Les in Chorlton 25 Oct 07 - 04:00 PM
Desert Dancer 26 Oct 07 - 01:12 PM
Les in Chorlton 26 Oct 07 - 02:09 PM
Fred McCormick 26 Oct 07 - 03:20 PM
Desert Dancer 26 Oct 07 - 10:53 PM
GUEST 07 Nov 07 - 05:31 AM
Fred McCormick 07 Nov 07 - 07:06 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 08 Nov 07 - 06:00 AM
Fred McCormick 08 Nov 07 - 06:13 AM
GUEST,redmax 09 Nov 07 - 05:19 AM
Bryn Pugh 09 Nov 07 - 05:20 AM
Bryn Pugh 09 Nov 07 - 05:21 AM
Fred McCormick 09 Nov 07 - 05:52 AM
Richard Bridge 09 Nov 07 - 06:01 AM
Folkiedave 09 Nov 07 - 12:48 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 09 Nov 07 - 06:36 PM
Folkiedave 09 Nov 07 - 07:07 PM
dick greenhaus 20 Nov 07 - 11:53 AM
GUEST 20 Nov 07 - 12:05 PM
Desert Dancer 20 Nov 07 - 04:05 PM
Charley Noble 21 Nov 07 - 11:06 AM
John Routledge 30 Nov 07 - 05:10 PM
Fred McCormick 01 Dec 07 - 04:45 AM
Fred McCormick 01 Dec 07 - 04:53 AM
Fred McCormick 01 Dec 07 - 05:11 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Dec 07 - 06:16 AM
Fred McCormick 01 Dec 07 - 06:50 AM
John Routledge 01 Dec 07 - 07:55 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Dec 07 - 07:58 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Dec 07 - 08:01 AM
Fred McCormick 01 Dec 07 - 08:51 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 01 Dec 07 - 12:10 PM
Les in Chorlton 01 Dec 07 - 12:23 PM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 01 Dec 07 - 02:22 PM
Folkiedave 01 Dec 07 - 02:36 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 01 Dec 07 - 02:49 PM
Folkiedave 01 Dec 07 - 06:22 PM
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Subject: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 12:17 PM

Sorry folks. I meant to post this a couple of weeks ago and forgot about it.

Anyway, there is to be a launch of Class Act, Ben Harker's new biography of Ewan MacColl this coming Thursday 25th October. The venue is the annexe of the Working Class Movement Library; 51, The Crescent, Salford, M5 4WX and starting time will be 6pm.

For a map of the location, go to http://www.multimap.com/maps/?hloc=GB|M5%204WX

This is an open event, so anyone who's interested can just turn up.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: John Routledge
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 12:24 PM

Thanks Fred

See you there :0)


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 02:11 PM

Naturlich


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 25 Oct 07 - 04:00 PM

What a night, what a piece of history, what a collection of characters, what a venue.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 26 Oct 07 - 01:12 PM

Tell us more, Les!


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Oct 07 - 02:09 PM

Well, ............ mmmmmmm... good point.

The venue was the The Working Class Movement Library, 51 The Crescent, Salford, M5 4WX, Lancashire, England, which amongst much else has some EM archive material. The Museum is a whole thread of it's own. If people are near Salford they should pop in join and be amazed.

Ben Harker, EW's biographer, talked for a while and I cannot really sum up what was a complex academic introduction to EM's life.

I can say that I believe it is a rigorous analysis of a complex character who was involved in so many things. I suspect that those of us who generally admire most of what he either achieved or tried to achieve will be fascinated. Those who are critics, and that includes many of us, will find much that they recognise. Don't worry the war is discussed!

A number of people spoke of EM and how he had affected them. Most made the point that he was often not easy to exchange ideas with, but that he was also a charming and generous person.

Aiden sang 3 MacColl songs to the biggest collection of EM friends and did us all proud.

I am sure other people will have things to say.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 26 Oct 07 - 03:20 PM

Just want to add that Ben Harker's summary of MacColl was a triumph of even handedness and it was great to hear contributions from Karl Dallas and Ruth Frow. I was unable to buy a copy of the book; they'd sold out by the time I got there. But I eagerly await its delivery.

Given that there is also a book in preparation on the radio ballads, and Dave Arthur's biography is not far over the horizon, these are interesting times and no mistake.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 26 Oct 07 - 10:53 PM

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Nov 07 - 05:31 AM

Anybody read the book yet and formed an opinion?


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 07 Nov 07 - 07:06 AM

I'm knocking on for half way through it, so here's an interim. The childhood/early politicisation section is rather sketchy, a lot more so in fact than Journeyman. However, it's important to remember that Harker was constrained partly by budgetary considerations on the part of the publisher and partly by the paucity of corroborative material. Understandably, Harker seems unwilling to accept MacColl's biography on its own. In truth, the book should have been three times as long. But we are lucky to have this much.

Having said, the section on Theatre Workshop is absolutely riveting and, while it's very boiled down, contains an enormous amount of information.

I've just got to the section where he meets Alan Lomax and Bert Lloyd, and starts to entertain ideas of a working class folk revival. I've still got a bit of ground to cover there, but a fascinating picture is starting to emerge of how MacColl's ideas on proletarian culture were changed around this period.

The tale of MacColl's desertion and subsequent arrest is dealt with in some detail and a different picture emerges to the one which I had previously entertained. For some reason (I may have dreamt it, or it may have been on the MI5 file), I was under the impression that MacColl had enlisted before he could be called up. He wasn't. He was conscripted and deserted several months later. The precise reasons aren't spelt out but it seems to have been a mixture of disaffection with the politics of the war(the British CP line at that time was one of opposition, on the grounds that it was an imperialist war), and dislike of service life.

Also, and I haven't been back and checked, but I recall Joan Littlewood's autobiography saying that MacColl was arrested on suspicion of desertion after the war and released because the police were looking for someone else of the same name. In fact, he was hauled off to Oswestry barracks, and eventually discharged as being unfit for military service.

I've spotted several minor mistakes in the text, but up to now,I have only one real disagreement. At this stage of the revival, MacColl and Lloyd were far amenable to American culture and to skiffle than Harker seems to think.

There's one other curious bit. The book says "Jean Newlove.....presented her troupe of East End girls to the Festival Hall audience (MacColl thought of the as a 'proletarian dance ensemble' like those he'd seen in Bulgaria". It's difficult to make much of this without having access to the WMA bulletin from which Harker quotes. But the suggestion I'm getting is that MacColl might have been far more receptive to eastern European state folklore troupes in the mid 1950s, than subsequently.

The book is extremely well written and very readable. Anyone who hasn't got a copy should go out and buy one. This is easily the most important commentary on a cultural icon of the folk revival that I have ever come across.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 08 Nov 07 - 06:00 AM

I've just finished the book and found it very difficult to put down - it is - as Fred McCormick says - very readable. The down side is that I probably missed a lot and will have to go back and re-read it for the detail that I missed the first time round.

It is an extremely honest portrait of a flawed but brilliant man. Nevertheless, the flaws are never used as 'a-stick-to-beat-him-with' or to detract from his remarkable achievements. Perhaps now that the nit-pickers have had all the tics and quirks spelled out for them we can put those to one side and concentrate on the man's work.

Sorry, that rather detracts from Ben Harker's excellent book - it is much more than just an en-numeration of tics and quirks!


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 08 Nov 07 - 06:13 AM

I'd agree with all of that, especially about the need to re-read and digest. And it's nice to see the 'warts and all' dealt with fairly and honestly and objectively as integral and insperable parts of the overall persona.

MacColl had a lot of faults and personal shortcomings. But I never heard of anyone as talented as he, who didn't.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: GUEST,redmax
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 05:19 AM

"Dave Arthur's biography"? I heard he was writing one on Bert Lloyd, am I mistaken?


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 05:20 AM

Quite so.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 05:21 AM

My last post was in respect of Mr McCormick's, at 06.13


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 05:52 AM

Yes. Dave Arthur has been working on a biography of Bert for a long time now. Publication is timed to coincide with Bert's centenary next year.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 06:01 AM

Assuming that that is Dave Arthur of Dave and Tony Arthur, please anyone who is in contact with him put him in touch. My late partner was Jacqui Walker (nee Turner) and I am still in touch with her husband Barry Walker, who I think spent a quantity of time discussing some of Bert Lloyd's books with Bert Lloyd during the writing of them and may have some interesting insight.

Jacqui always used to tell me that Bert Lloyd's interest in ther company was not solely avuncular.....


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Folkiedave
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 12:48 PM

Contact numbers and email are on his website Richard.

Bert - not avuncular? Surely not!!

I think the problem in the past has been getting a publisher for Dave's material.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 06:36 PM

The English Folk dance & Song Society will be publishing Dave Arthur's biography of Bert Lloyd next year. Some sponsorship money has already been pledged - all contributions very welcome! Further details in due course from www.efdss.org Anyone with info for Dave about Bert can send it via Malcolm Taylor at EFDSS. I will see Dave tomorrow and will pass on the above message.
Derek Schofield


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Folkiedave
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 07:07 PM

Well done the EFDSS


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 20 Nov 07 - 11:53 AM

CAMSCO can offer the book (soft cover) at $17.50 (+0.50+actual postage). I don't have an exact weight for the book, but media mail postage in the US should be less than $2.50. That's 30% off the U of M price.

Like all CAMSCO book offerings, this is a one-time deal--I haven't room nor capital enough to stock books. If you're interested, please E-mail me dick@camscomusic.com within the week. I take VISA, Master, Discover, PayPal or personal checks.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Nov 07 - 12:05 PM

Since I had MacColl's autobiography "Journeyman" in hardback form I thought I'd get Ben Harker's "Class Act" in the same, but does anyone know why the hardback - considering its fairly hefty price - comes without a dustwrapper, or is mine the exception?


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 20 Nov 07 - 04:05 PM

refresh -- with Dick's time-limited CAMSCO offer


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Charley Noble
Date: 21 Nov 07 - 11:06 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: John Routledge
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 05:10 PM

Just finished this incredible biography of a very complex but very troubled man. It is crammed with detail and as Fred McCormick said it could have been three times as long.

Will now read the book again to get a fuller handle on the man.

Recommended!!


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 04:45 AM

It definitely needs a more detailed study than I was able to give it at the time. Indeed, despite its comparative brevity, Harker managed to pack an awful lot of often very detailed information.

The problems I had with it were two fold.

1.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 04:53 AM

Sorry folks. The Go button gremlin got in the way. Take two.

It definitely needs a more detailed study than I was able to give it at the time. Indeed, despite its comparative brevity, Harker managed to pack an awful lot of often very detailed information.

The problems I had with it were two fold.

1. It could have been a lot more sympathetic towards its subject. Yes, MacColl had a lot of quirks, and rather more of them than I had previously realised. But when you set them against the litany of things he acheived they somewhat diminish in importance. Also, however much MacColl may have got up people's noses, and irrespective of the fact that I nowadays disagree with virtually every aspect of his thinking, he stood for a world which was free of racism, oppression, war, class disadvantage and most of the other social evils which afflict this society of ours.

2.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 05:11 AM

For crying out bleep bleeping loud. The Go button gremlin got in the way again. Take three. Can one of the mud elves straighten this lot out.

It definitely needs a more detailed study than I was able to give it at the time. Indeed, despite its comparative brevity, Harker managed to pack an awful lot of often very detailed information. I did pick up a few mistakes in the text, but they are mostly fairly trivial, and do not interfere with the basic narrative. What's more the footnotes are a positive tour de force.

The problems I had with it were two fold.

1. It could have been a lot more sympathetic towards its subject. Yes, MacColl had a lot of quirks, and rather more of them than I had previously realised. But when you set his faults against the litany of things he acheived they somewhat diminish in importance. Also, however much MacColl may have got up people's noses, and irrespective of the fact that I nowadays disagree with virtually every aspect of his thinking, he stood for a world which was free of racism, oppression, war, class disadvantage and most of the other social evils which afflict this society of ours. As far as I am concerned, that puts him on the side of the good guys.

2. Here and there I got the feeling that Harker didn't fully understand MacColl's theoretical perspective. Certainly he doesn't get to grips with it in the book, although that may be a function of publishing constraints. In any event, I can't recall one single word on MacColl's abiding preoccupation with singing style.

Moreover, I felt the book ended abruptly. A closing chapter discussing MacColl's enduring legacy, and where Peggy and the rest of the MacColl family are at these days should have been essential; publishing constraints or no publishing constraints.

What we need then is a much bigger biography, and one which critically assesses MacColl's theories, and his contributions to radical theatre and the folk revival. Unfortunately, that is not what we are likely to get and, for whatever shortcomings Harker's biography suffers from, it is still a valuable insight into the life of possibly the most important figure the British folk revival ever produced.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 06:16 AM

so would you recommend it. eighteen quid or so is quite a lot of money to find for a spendthrift pensioner.

I only met him a few times. but I saw him and Peggy do their thing quite a lot, as I was very much in awe of them. I suppose you would call me a fan.

The ommissions you mention seem quite significant.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 06:50 AM

eighteen quid? My copy was £15.99. In any event, if you're interested in MacColl and/or the British folk revival it is definitely worth buying. Indispensable even.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: John Routledge
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 07:55 AM

WLD - It costs less than £8 from Amazon.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 07:58 AM

sorry I was looking at Dick's message and I saw pounds instaed of dollar signs.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 08:01 AM

very interesting, if you were around the folkscene at that time. is the Bert Jansch biography Dazzling Stranger - there is a lot of background on the artists you would have seen in the clubs.

I only paid about four quid for a copy on Amazon.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 08:51 AM

Aphrohead Books have it listed on Amazon at £7.61, although it doesn't say how many copies they've got. In any event, I've dealt with them before. They're fast and efficient.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 12:10 PM

Yes, WLD, highly recommended if you're at all interested in MacColl's legacy - as you obviously are.

Nevertheless, I would also echo Fred McCormick's comment that we do need more info. on Ewan's theoretical and practical work on singing and singing styles. I attended one of the singers' workshops that he and Peggy ran back in the late 60s. That weekend made a vivid impression on me and the broad outlines of what I learned remain with me to this day. I just wish I'd taken detailed notes (although it probably wouldn't have been appropriate) because the memory of specific details have inevitably faded with time.

Unfortunately, Ewan never got round to publishing anything. I do know that many of the Critics Group sessions were taped ... perhaps one day a selection could be published in some form or other?


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 12:23 PM

Saw one on an Amnesty International bookstall in Manchester today for £16


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 02:22 PM

Anybody still considering buying it could try The Book Depository (in the North of England,not the one in Dallas), reasonably priced and post-free to anywhere (and quick too).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Folkiedave
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 02:36 PM

I got my copy there!!

Dave


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 02:49 PM

Wow THANKS for that site, Jim. I've bookmarked it - sounds like the sort of thing that should be supported, and it definitely deserves a clickie:

http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/homepage.php

Bonnie (who does not need any more excuses to spend money...)


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl Biography Launch
From: Folkiedave
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 06:22 PM

Bonnie (who does not need any more excuses to spend money...)

Censors Bonnie for obvious thread drift and troll!! :-)

Remember Illie Nastasie's joke?

Credit card was stolen but he didn't report it, the thief was spending less than his wife.


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