The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #52044   Message #795512
Posted By: RoyH (Burl)
02-Oct-02 - 11:48 AM
Thread Name: Radio Ballads (MacColl/Parker)
Subject: RE: Radio Ballads (MacColl/Parker)
Great to read of so much interest in the Radio Ballads. They are well remembered by people who heard them first time around, and on subsequent repeats, and now a new generation may hear them via the CD series. The Radio Ballad style, with it's montage of actuality and music has spread widely. Echoes of it may be heard in radio and TV drama, in stage productions (such as the excellent ones done some years ago at Stoke on Trent) even in TV advertising. Several folk clubs have mounted shows of their own on local topics, done in a manner suggesting the influence of the radio ballads. Fylde Festival presents something like this regularly. All of this is proof of the mark made by the original programmes and their makers, MacColl, Seeger, and Parker. Ian Campbell's account of the 'missing' programmes interested me. They do not deserve "permanent oblivion". They should be heard, or at least stored where we may search for them.

In the early sixties, 64 or 65 as I remember, I took part in a series called 'Landmarks', produced by Charles Parker, music by Peggy Seeger, compiled and songs written by Alasdair Clayre. The opening theme was Ewan MacColl's 'Ballad of Accounting, sung by him. The series followed 'landmarks' in a man's life, Birth, school, work, etc, with actuality and appropriate songs. The series went to air in Jan 65, on the Midlands Home Service of the BBC. It was not networked nationally. They were damn good shows but so far as I know they were never repeated. I had no tape recorder at that time so am without a souvenir of my first ever broadcast. I can't tell you how proud I was as a novice singer, being asked to work with Peggy Seeger and Charles Parker. I learned a great deal about standards and professionalism as a consequence. There may be copies in the Parker archives, I don't know, perhaps they are available in that way. But why did the BBC bury them?
One more story on the Radio ballads theme.........during the 1970's I had been singing in the South East of England and was hitch-hiking my way to a couple of gigs in Suffolk. A driver picked me up, we started talking, and he told me of his interest in the fishing industry and the steam drifters. He said that he had once heard a radio show about it, "It was the best thing I've ever heard" he said, "They had songs in was terrific". I sang him a verse or two of 'Shoals of Herring' and told him I knew the people who made the programme. He was so excited when I told him it had been recorded on Argo records that he went twenty miles out of his way to drop me where I was going. Yes Sir, those Radio ballads really had impact.