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Your top ten folk albums

GUEST,TJ in San Diego 06 May 09 - 04:17 PM
Jack Blandiver 07 May 09 - 09:16 AM
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Subject: RE: Your top ten folk albums
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 06 May 09 - 04:17 PM

Some of the "seasoned citizens" who read this may relate.
I rarely found an album (in the vinyl era) on which I was crazy about all the songs. I found inspiration on several, either in terms of a song, an interpretation or approach, that helped me develop my own style. Some of the early albums' titles are lost to memory (a fire took care of that some years ago). Among the best I can recall:

1. "Songs of Earth & Sky" - Art & Paul (Art Podell & Paul Potash)
2. "Belafonte at Carnegie Hall" (which contained my first exposure   
      to both Odetta and the Chad Mitchell Trio)
3. An early Josh White album with Sam Gary on a few songs.
4. The Kingston Trio's original album
5. Joe & Eddie - the album name escapes me
6. Ian & Sylvia's debut album (which I still have)
7. The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem's first major album
8. Oscar Brand's sea shantey's, along with "Bawdy Songs & Backroom
      Ballads"
9. Gordon Lightfoot's early albums, mostly acoustic, with the late
      Red Shea on lead guitar
10. Two old Weavers albums my parents owned

There have been many others, the list changing as time goes on. People as diverse as Marty Robbins and John Jacob Niles have had their influence. The guitar magic of jazz players like Laurindo Almeida and Charlie Byrd also had a part. The first guitar playing I can recall hearing on the radio was probably western swing and country, being a rural kid.


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Subject: RE: Your top ten folk albums
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 May 09 - 09:16 AM

I suppose I should stick to albums proper, rather than those compiled on behalf of traditional singers & musicians by the good folk of Topic, Ocora, Nonesuch Explorer & such-like, though such things invariably blur the distinctions between document & product. So in no particular order...

Bright Phoebus - which defines a very definite aesthetic with respect of folk and lives of those who wrote it & played on it. At the very least one of the best sounding albums ever...

Alchemy - although Glen Sweeney persisted in calling the Third Ear Band a pop group, the folk aesthetic is writ large in this amazing album which nestles into the overall Harvest image thing anyway, along with the Shirley & Dolly albums. Pip's already mentioned Anthems in Eden, so I'll go for

Love, Death and the Lady - as remarkable a piece of cultural reinvention as you could wish for & utterly shameless in terms of Folk Image and Presentation. Shame the CD reissue couldn't live up to the promise...

Puck of Pook's Hill - Bellamy's second album of Kipling's Puck Songs which exists on a far darker level than the first; features some stunning fiddling from Nic Jones and eerie counter tenor from Dick Cadbury, and Dolly's flute organ of course...

Kip of the Serenes - though in what sense these albums might be considered folk continues to be a moot point; but out the rich dark earth there emerges a music which has always been entirely appropriate to aligning the senses with glad reality.

The Battle of the Field - the only time English Folk Rock has ever sounded right to my ears, Bright Phoebus notwithstanding of course, though at least here there are at least some Folk Songs to please the 1954 faithful, including Pip's Horns...

The Gypsy - Is this Folk Rock as well? Certainly Mr Fox existed at a tangent to the regular Hutching school as a casual spin of this slab of classic vinyl will reveal, warts and all. Makes me yearn to go over Buttertubs Pass with Carole Pegg's Gypsy Dance loud on the car stereo (you don't think I'd walk it do you?) - Barry Lyon's was a fine melodic bass player too. Only in for the money!

Just Another Diamond Day - Vashti Bunyan was someone else who maintained her music was pop rather than folk, though I'm not sure who she was trying to fool. I believe she persists with this line to this day. Time was this album was known only to five people living in and around the South Tyne Valley (within a hundred yard radius of a caravan called Rivermeet) - I died a death when I heard the title track on a mobile phone advert. But in my heart...

Among the Many Attractions at the Show Will be a Really High Class Band - JK & SH at their finest; sentimental value in spades here of course, but seminal in defining a notion of Folk Music that somehow endures to this day. And last but not least...

Times and Traditions for Dulcimer - And that which was first, shall be the very last! Roger Nicholson, Jake Walton with the occasional pre-celebrity Andrew Cronshaw turning in an exquisitely crafted modal master-work. They don't make 'em like this any more, and moe's the pity really. Someone once described it as Chamber Folk, which I think I'd go along with. A Leader album, languishing in the vaults along with so many others...


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