The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157386   Message #3715311
Posted By: Brian Peters
08-Jun-15 - 05:39 PM
Thread Name: Still wondering what's folk these days?
Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
Guest, Dave, wrote:

"So, not having heard of Joseph Taylor, and wondering why his music was being ignored, with the magic of Youtube you can listen to a small number of these... A good singer, with a good voice, but not, I think, out of the ordinary. The recording is a scratchy wax cylinder recording and the sound quality is of course dreadful, but its 105 years ago, so what do you expect.

A recording of great historical importance, yes. But for an evening's relaxation I will listen to Nic Jones singing Rufford Park Poachers..."

Hi, Dave. I'm happy that you took the trouble to listen to Joseph Taylor, and it doesn't bother me greatly that you prefer Nic Jones' 'Rufford Park Poachers'. I might, too, depending on the circumstances. I wasn't grumbling that Taylor's singing was being ignored, just saying that 100 year old recordings still do it for ME, without any 'reinvigoration'. A personal view only - no-one has a duty to listen to Taylor, but if someone does as a result of my mentioning him, that makes me happy.

Brigg Fair is perhaps his biggest hit, but personally I think his 'Rufford Park' is great too.

I chose JT as an example, partly because his are the oldest recordings we have of a traditional English singer who was also highly skilled. Without any disrespect to Anne Briggs, Taylor pulls off decorations that any revival singer - ever - would have found it hard to reproduce: technically he was very, very good. The recordings are, of course, scratchy, but so are those of Robert Johnson, and many blues fans would prefer his 'Crossroads' over Clapton's any day.

I teach classes on traditional singing regularly, and never tire of hearing Taylor's singing when I play it to a class - although there are other old singers I might listen to for pleasure before him. I spent a happy hour or so with Walter Pardon on a recent car journey, and Sam Larner, Phil Tanner and Caroline Hughes never fail to give pleasure. If Nic Jones said [see MGM's post]: "they are of great scholarly importance; they aren't meant to be 'entertainment'", I completely disagree. Sam Larner won singing competitions in fishermen's clubs the length of the East Coast because he was a fantastic entertainer. He certainly entertains me.

For singers looking for traditional repertoire, of course you can view old singers primarily as a source, but they have a vast amount to offer the listener, through technique and sheer ability to connect. It isn't always easy to get into this stuff on the first hearing, but it is well worth persevering with. IMO, of course.