I've just posted free audio online for the first two of PlanetSlade's genuine Victorian gallows ballads. I'm hoping these will be just the beginning of a project that eventually brings all 16 of the ballads back to life as fully-performed songs.
These are the songs knocked out by jobbing hacks in London's Seven Dials slum and sold at public hangings while the condemned man was still dangling. Each song comes with full lyrics, plus my own research on the real crime that inspired it. All the lyrics are well over 100 years old. So far, the audio available covers:
Gallows Child: Original lyrics set to the tune of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by The Hammond School's Nicola Andrew, and performed by the cast of the school's Christmas 2011 production of Oliver Twist. It's my own field recording from the show's run last month, made and posted on-line with their permission.
Audio: http://tindeck.com/listen/spbc .
Background: http://www.planetslade.com/broadside-ballads-gallows-child.html .
Mrs Dyer, the Old Baby Farmer: A 1960 music hall recording by Elsa Lanchester, the actress who played The Bride of Frankenstein, and salvaged here from a long out-of-print vinyl LP.
Background: http://www.planetslade.com/broadside-ballads-mrs-dyer.html .
If you'd like to help PlanetSlade bring its other 14 Gallows Ballads back to life too, why not set one of the song's public domain lyrics to your own music and record yourself performing it? I'd be delighted to use PlanetSlade as a central list of links to everyone's recordings or - if you prefer - post your track on-line myself. Bedroom musicians, pub performers, folk clubs and global megastars are all welcome to take part.
PlanetSlade Music already has exclusive free tracks from both Pete Morton and The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, so you'd be in excellent company.
Ideally, I'd like to have links to people performing all 16 of our British Broadsides up and running there, but whether I manage that or not is entirely up to you. There's no money in this for anyone - least of all me - but I think it's a worthwhile project nonetheless. If you agree, please help me spread the word. More details here: http://www.planetslade.com/broadside-ballads-songs.html .
PS) PlanetSlade also has a new Murder Ballads essay up on-line today, covering Pretty Polly and it's 18th Century roots in The Gosport Tragedy. Find it here: http://www.planetslade.com/pretty-polly01.html .