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Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain

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GUEST,Kevin Sexton 23 Nov 07 - 07:39 PM
RTim 23 Nov 07 - 08:59 PM
mmurphy 23 Nov 07 - 09:22 PM
RTim 24 Nov 07 - 12:02 AM
Severn 24 Nov 07 - 12:12 AM
masato sakurai 24 Nov 07 - 02:21 AM
RTim 24 Nov 07 - 08:58 AM
RTim 24 Nov 07 - 09:07 AM
Kevin Sheils 24 Nov 07 - 10:40 AM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 24 Nov 07 - 02:46 PM
Susan of DT 24 Nov 07 - 03:16 PM
Bill D 24 Nov 07 - 06:44 PM
Susan of DT 24 Nov 07 - 07:29 PM
GUEST,Kevin Sexton 24 Nov 07 - 07:49 PM
mmurphy 25 Nov 07 - 12:25 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 25 Nov 07 - 06:56 AM
Susan of DT 25 Nov 07 - 09:19 AM
Susan of DT 25 Nov 07 - 11:22 AM
Susan of DT 25 Nov 07 - 05:13 PM
GUEST,Kevin Sexton 26 Nov 07 - 07:36 PM
Kevin Sheils 27 Nov 07 - 05:01 AM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 28 Nov 07 - 03:52 AM
GUEST,Kevin Sexton 28 Nov 07 - 12:32 PM
Gurney 29 Nov 07 - 12:05 AM
dick greenhaus 29 Nov 07 - 09:43 AM
johnadams 29 Nov 07 - 10:02 AM
GUEST,Auldtimer 29 Nov 07 - 12:48 PM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 30 Nov 07 - 03:58 AM
dick greenhaus 30 Nov 07 - 12:05 PM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 30 Nov 07 - 03:12 PM
dick greenhaus 30 Nov 07 - 05:44 PM
GUEST 01 Dec 07 - 03:00 PM
Malcolm Douglas 01 Dec 07 - 05:23 PM
Richard Bridge 02 Dec 07 - 10:04 AM
dick greenhaus 02 Dec 07 - 12:25 PM
Richard Bridge 02 Dec 07 - 03:32 PM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 03 Dec 07 - 03:49 AM
dick greenhaus 03 Dec 07 - 11:25 AM
GrandpaBill 03 Dec 07 - 12:44 PM
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Subject: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: GUEST,Kevin Sexton
Date: 23 Nov 07 - 07:39 PM

To anyone who recalls the Topic Records / Caedmon Records "Folk Songs Of Britain" series of vinyl LPs issued in the 60s (?) –
I have recently dug out my volumes of this series and wonder why I have ignored them for so long. I would dearly love to have a full set of the series (I am missing four) but, of course, they are now unavailable.

Is there a kind person out there who has any of the following

Volume 1           SONGS OF COURTSHIP
Volume 5           THE CHILD BALLADS 2
Volume 9           SONGS OF CHRISTMAS
Volume 10        ANIMAL SONGS

and would be prepared to lend me a copy, or make me a copy of both the recordings and the booklets?
If so, please contact me at +44 (0)1296 712049 or kevin@sexton10.freeserve.co.uk. I will be happy to reimburse costs of course.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: RTim
Date: 23 Nov 07 - 08:59 PM

I have a full set and can to copy to Cd, and I have a Photo copier - only problem I am in the USA!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: mmurphy
Date: 23 Nov 07 - 09:22 PM

Tim, I've also been trying to complete a "Folk Songs of Britain" collection. Would you be able to make me a CD set while I hunt down the LPs one by one and pay far too much? :)
As Kevin said, I'd be happy to reimburse you for your time/trouble/supplies.

Thank you,

Maureen


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: RTim
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 12:02 AM

I have been correctly advised (by someone wiser than myself - Thanks!!) that these recordings are still owned by the label and have been the subject of more than one issue in the past, and that there is always a chance they will issue them again in the future - So taking that into consideration I feel it not right to copy them for others.

Thanks - Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: Severn
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 12:12 AM

Check with Dick Greenhaus at Camsco I've seen them in CD form and he could get you copies to order if anyone could.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: masato sakurai
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 02:21 AM

I think THE CHILD BALLADS are remastered as the Classic Ballads (Rounder CD).

Classic Ballads of Britain and Ireland, Vol. 1
Classic Ballads of Britain and Ireland, Vol. 2


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: RTim
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 08:58 AM

Masato is only partly correct about the above - Child 1 & 2 as indicated do share tracks with the original Lps (at least the Topic versions) - but there are some subtractions and some additions.
This is also true of Songs of Seduction that has been issued on CD in the same series, however in this case, there are major differences between the Lp and the Cd.
It seems that they are issung a different set than the old Lp - so to be complete - you need both. Very clever marketing!
I have not checked the Topic site to see if the whole group have been re-issued in this format.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: RTim
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 09:07 AM

Of course I should have noticed AND remembered that these new versions are on Rounder not Topic, and Rounder are issung more compilations, but they are different from the Folk Songs of Britain series.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 10:40 AM

The booklets for the three Rounder CDs "Songs of Seduction" and the two Child ballad volumes use the woodcut designs that were on the covers of the original Caedmon LPs (although not in full colour) rather than the designs used on the Topic reissues.

I assumed that all 10 would be reissued by Rounder in the Lomax series in an extended and/or revised form but after those first three issues it seems to have stopped.

In act the whole Lomax series seems to have been reigned back after a strong start. I think less than half of the CD reissues of the Columbia World Library series have appeared to date.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 02:46 PM

When Rounder announced its series of Lomax recordings, the intention was to issue the FSB series with complete versions.
When this didn't happen, rumour was that they intended to do both edited and unedited versions.
Years ago Topic made moves to issue the set with unedited versions, but I heard that the fee being demanded by Peter Kennedy was so prohibitive that they abandoned the idea and concentrated on The Voice of The People series instead.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: Susan of DT
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 03:16 PM

I think the set may be rereleased in the next year or so. A few of them are our already, as noted above.

I have the set on LP. I'm also in the US. If they are going to be rereleased, I would not copy them.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 06:44 PM

I have 'most' of the LPs....I sure wish whoever owns the rights would make clear what they intend to do, so we could plan.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: Susan of DT
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 07:29 PM

Nope, I was wrong. The Riverside set will probably appear in the next year or so, not the Caedman.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: GUEST,Kevin Sexton
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 07:49 PM

Wow! This was my first attempt at using the Forum and it really works! Thanks for the contributions everybody.
Tim Radford - thanks for your kind offer ; I perfectly understand your subsequent reluctance, having taken advice.
Severn - thanks for the Dick Camsco suggestion ; will try him.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: mmurphy
Date: 25 Nov 07 - 12:25 AM

I didn't realize that there were still plans to release the rest of the series on CD. Since there are though, I'll wait (impatiently of course!) so that the proper owner will get the appropriate royalties.

Lord, it's hard though!   I first heard the Christmas songs LP perhaps 20 years ago, and it absolutely floored me. : )


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 25 Nov 07 - 06:56 AM

Sorry to be pedantic but my vol. 9 (Topic 12T197) of this series is called 'Songs of Ceremony' not "Songs of Christmas".

Whoever brings this series out on CD will be doing all of us traddies a great service - especially if all the tracks can be restored to their full lengths (as opposed to the miserable truncated ones on the LPs).


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: Susan of DT
Date: 25 Nov 07 - 09:19 AM

Here is a comparison of the LPs and CDs for the Child ballad records. There have bee extra cuts added to the CDs, but a couple of cuts from the LPs have disappeared. The lengths of the songs are given on the CDs and are mostly quite short. I would be surprised, Shimrod, if anyone rereleasing the LPs onto CDs would go back to the original field recordings to get the whole song, rather than rereleasing what was on the LPs and the original field recordings may have been short (to save recording materials). The titles of the songs are often different between the LP and CD, but are clearly the same singer of the same song.

Volume 1:
Elfin Knight both LP 2 singers, CD 1
False Knight on the Road both LP 1 singer, CD 2
Outlandish Knight both LP 2 singers, CD 1
Douglas Tragedy CD only, 1 singer
Two Sisters both LP 1 singer, CD 3
Lord Randall both 5 singers each
Edward both LP 3 singers, CD 4
King Orpheo both 1 singer each
Cruel Mother both LP 1 singer, CD 3
Broomfield Wager both 1 singer each
Captain Wedderburn both different 1 singer each
Two Brothers both LP 1 singer, CD 2
King's Daughter CD only, one singer
Lord Bateman both 2 singers each
Lord Thomas & Fair Ellen both 1 singer each
Lord Lovel both 1 singer each
Lord Gregory both 1 singer each
Little Musgrave CD 1 singer
Barbara Allen both 6 singers each
George Collins both 1 singer each
False Lamkin both different 1 singer each
Prickelly Bush both LP 1 singer, CD 2
Bailiff's Daughter CD 1 singer
Flower Servingmen CD 1 singer

I'll do volume 2 later. And Songs of Seduction. Do I need to list the singers on each cut? This is getting to be work. Before I realized some singers were different, I thought all I had to check was the titles.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: Susan of DT
Date: 25 Nov 07 - 11:22 AM

Child Ballads, Volume 2
Royal Forester both 1 singer each
Baffled Knight both 1 singer each
Johnny Cock LP only 1 singer
Robin Hood & Little John both 1 singer
Jew's Garden both 1 singer
Battle of Harlaw both LP 1 singer, CD 2
Mary Hamilton both 1 singer
Gypsie Laddie both 3 singers each
Georgie both 1 singer each
Dowie Dens Yarrow both 1 singer each
Clyde's Water CD 1 singer
Green Wedding CD 2 singers
Eppie Morrie CD 1 singer
Laird o' Drum CD 1 singer
Glenlogie both 1 singer
Bonnie Rantin' Laddie CD 1 singer
Grey Cock both 1 singer
Henry Martin LP only 1 singer
Lang Johnnie More both 1 singer
Willie's Fatal Visit both 1 singer
Our Goodman both 3 singers
Farmer's Curst Wife both 1 singer
Jolly Beggar both 1 singer
Auld Beggarman both LP 1 singer, CD 3
Keach in Creel both 1 singer
Golden Vanity both different 1 singer each
Mermaid CD only 1 singer
Trooper and Maid both 1 singer


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: Susan of DT
Date: 25 Nov 07 - 05:13 PM

Re Songs of Ceremony vs. Songs of Christmas: The early LPs listed the projected set with Songs of Christmas as one of them. They must have changed their minds, because the later LPs listed it as Songs of Ceremony, which what it was called when released.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: GUEST,Kevin Sexton
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 07:36 PM

Since I kicked this off, thought I'd better sign it off, now that it seems to have served its purpose.
Many thanks to all contributors, including Susan of DT for her copious detail on the contents of the Child Ballads volumes. My whistle is well and truly wetted!


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 05:01 AM

To be completely clear

You are right Shimrod as far as the Topic reissue is concerned but -

The Original Caedmon issue of Vol 9 was definitely called Songs of Christmas (may have had a subtitle but don't have the disc to hand).

When Topic reissued it they decided the title was misleading as it covered the whole cycle or ceremonial/ritual and changed it to Songs of Ceremony (a more appropriate title).


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Nov 07 - 03:52 AM

I have recently been working on the Folk Songs of Britain series recently (for my personal use), so I thought I would pass on the following information:
The series was first issued by Caedmon Records (US) in 1961 and reissued in 1969 by Topic.
The editors were Peter Kennedy and Alan Lomax, and the collectors were given as; Bob Copper, L Daikens, Sean Davis, Phillip Donnellan, Seamus Ennis, Hamish Henderson, Maud Karples, Peter Kennedy, Alan Lomax, Sean O'Boyle, Patrick Shuldham-Shaw, Marie Slocum and Cyril Tawney.
All the material included on the albums were copyrighted to Lochrea Music.
When Topic issued the series they changed the title of volume 9 from 'Songs of Christmas' to 'Songs of Ceremony', and the notes were altered, is some cases radically (the 'Christmas' notes were at least twice the size of those to the 'Ceremony' album). Topic did not include the tune transcriptions that were part of the Caedmon notes, nor did they include the photographs of performers that were on the original sleeves.
Some time ago I suggested that the series should be made available to all via the internet and was told that 'it was easy to give away something that didn't belong to me'.
As far as I am concerned, the collection has always belonged to me - and to every British taxpayer and radio/television receiving license holder.
The project was instigated and financed by the British Broadcasting Corporation and the collectors were employed by them and worked on their/our behalf.
I have never seen a satisfactory explanation of how the collection ended up in private hands and why it has only been available in either the edited Caedmon/Topic version or on poorly reproduced, somewhat expensive cassettes accompanied by extremely inadequate, shoddily photocopied notes; perhaps somebody can explain. In some cases the 'owner' has chosen to dub on accompaniments and choruses; the artistic equivalent of painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa. Also, does anybody know who 'Lochrea Music' is and on whose behalf they were allowed to copyright all the traditional texts and tunes on the FSB series.
I was pleased to learn that the collection is finally to end up in The National Sound Archive and, if we make it worth their while financially, Topic may issue some of it in the future.
As far as I am concerned the 'Kennedy' collection is part of our heritage, every bit as important as the paintings of Turner or Constable, and should be recognised as such and treated accordingly.
Jim Carroll
PS: Several of the tracks, notably of Jimmy MacBeath and Jeannie Robertson, have accordion accompaniments, does anybody know who the musicians were?


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: GUEST,Kevin Sexton
Date: 28 Nov 07 - 12:32 PM

Hear! Hear! (on the ownership issue)

You really have been researching, haven't you. Can't answer your question, but thanks for the info.
Oh, and did you really write all that at 03:52 AM !!!


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: Gurney
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 12:05 AM

I remember borrowing most of them from the archives of Coventry Public Library back in the early 70s. Wonder if they still have them.

I seem to remember that they had the Radio Ballads, too.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 09:43 AM

Jim-
I'm a bit confused about who has rights to what. In the US, Alan Lomax did most of his collecting while in the employ of the Library of Congress--that's a federally-funded institution. I don't believe that this gives me the right to copy and sell this material (much as I'd like to). Some of it's been licensed to Rounder; some other material is issued by the LOC.
    I suspect the same applies to collections funded by the BBC.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: johnadams
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 10:02 AM

I'm with Jim on this. If it's been acquired using public money then at the very least it should be available by some method.

If it's available at a cost then fair enough but that cost should not be prohibitive.

There is too much stuff locked away in the UK. Some of it is only available to academics. I'm lucky as I have an 'Athens' password which gives me access to at least some stuff, material that my friends outside universities can't see. Given that most folk research is done by people outside academia this is not very helpful, and when all's said and done, the peoples music belongs to the people.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: GUEST,Auldtimer
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 12:48 PM

It's a while since I last heard these LPs, the accordion player on the Jimmy MacBeath recordings could well be,'the Galoot', Auld Davie Stewart. I'm sure I have, somewhere, recordings from the Peter Kennedy colection with Auld Davie Stewart, Jimmy MacBeath and others that had been recorded at the same get-together.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 03:58 AM

Dick,
For as long as I have been interested in traditional singers it has been the general belief of those I have discussed the subject with that the recordings available on Folktrax (and now Camsco) are more-or-less the same as those collected by the BBC project in the first half of the 1950s.
If this is the case (and it should be easy enough to establish, should anybody wish to make the effort), it gives rise to a number of questions:
1. How did such an important collection fall into private hands?
2. What part did the main instigators of the project (BBC – EFDSS) play the use that was made of it?
3. Does the general access to that collection reflect its importance as a body of traditional culture?
4. In what form is that collection held (acetate/vinyl disc, reel-to-reel tape, cassette, digital, (m.p.3 player)); in what conditions have the recordings been stored and what is their state?
5. Does the collection consist of anything but the artefacts (songs, tunes, stories, lore etc.) or were the informants interviewed by the collectors and do the original recordings contain valuable information on the tradition – if so, where are they?
6. Were the other collectors on the project consulted about what should happen to the material; if so, what was their response?
7. And finally, the $64,000 question - what now – are we really going to have to settle for being given access to these recordings only if they are made available by companies who have stated that they will only release them if they are guaranteed a return on their investment – in other words, is the situation going to remain the same as it has been for the last half century?
Please don't get me wrong; I have no desire to denigrate the work that Peter Kennedy and his team carried out on our behalf. Many/most of the folkies of my generation took their inspiration from 'As I Rode Out', 'The Song Carriers' and the FSB series, and I for one will be eternally grateful for the fact that such a valuable and important treasure was saved for the nation, and for the access (albeit limited) I have been given to it.
But isn't it time that we now took a responsible attitude towards a body of work that has, to date, been under-valued, and in some cases abused?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 12:05 PM

Jim-
I'll answer as best I can.

"For as long as I have been interested in traditional singers it has been the general belief of those I have discussed the subject with that the recordings available on Folktrax (and now Camsco) are more-or-less the same as those collected by the BBC project in the first half of the 1950s.
If this is the case (and it should be easy enough to establish, should anybody wish to make the effort), it gives rise to a number of questions:
1. How did such an important collection fall into private hands?
          I SIMPLY DON'T KNOW.

2. What part did the main instigators of the project (BBC – EFDSS) play the use that was made of it?
       AGAIN, I SIMPLY DON'T KNOW
3. Does the general access to that collection reflect its importance as a body of traditional culture?
         I FEEL THAT THEY"RE IMPORTANT-- THAT'S WHY CAMSCO BECAME INVOLVED IN REPACKAGING AND RERELEASING THEM. KENNEDY (AS FOLKTRAX) WAS SELLING THEM, BUT IN A FORM THAT WAS UNSALEABLE TO AMERICAN CUSTOMERS--NO DISK LABELS, NO JEWEL CASES, NO ARTWORK, POORLY XEROXED NOTES.   
4. In what form is that collection held (acetate/vinyl disc, reel-to-reel tape, cassette, digital, (m.p.3 player)); in what conditions have the recordings been stored and what is their state?

       UPON PETER KENNEDY'S DEATH, THE ENTIRE COLLECIION WAS TURNED OVER TO TOPIC (I DON'T KNOW JUST WHAT THE ARRANGEMENT WAS.) AS I UNDERSTAND IT, ALL THE RECORDINGS ARE IN DIGITAL FORM ON A COMPUTER HARD DRIVE.

5. Does the collection consist of anything but the artefacts (songs, tunes, stories, lore etc.) or were the informants interviewed by the collectors and do the original recordings contain valuable information on the tradition – if so, where are they?
            I HAVE NO IDEA. YOU MIGHT ASK TOPIC.

6. Were the other collectors on the project consulted about what
should happen to the material; if so, what was their response?
          AGAIN, I HAVE NO IDEA   


7. And finally, the $64,000 question - what now – are we really going to have to settle for being given access to these recordings only if they are made available by companies who have stated that they will only release them if they are guaranteed a return on their investment – in other words, is the situation going to remain the same as it has been for the last half century?
          TOPIC HAS AGREED THAT CAMSCO CAN CONTINUE SELLING THE FOLKTRAX RECORDINGS AT LEAST UNTIL 2009, WHEN TOPIC PLANS TO RELEASE
A SELECTION (PROBABLY A MULTI-CD SET) FROM THEM> CAMSCO HAS AGREED TO CONTINUE PAYING THE LICENSE FEE, PREVIOUSLY PAID TO MR. KENNEDY, TO TOPIC. CAMSCO HAS FURTHER STATED THAT WE HAVE NO INTEREST IN PUBLISHING MATERIAL THAT TOPIC IS DOING--I'M SURE THAT THEY CAN DO A BETTER JOB THAN CAMSCO CAN--BUT TOPIC HAS AGREED THAT WHEN THEY PUBLISH A "BEST OF" COLLECTION, CAMSCO CAN PUBLISH THE "REST OF".

RE: COMMERCIAL VIABILITY. I CAN'T SPEAK FOR TOPIC, BUT THE "COMMERCIALLY VIABLE" BREAKPOINT FOR AN OUTFIT LIKE CAMSCO (AND THERE ARE A FEW OTHER SMALL OUTFITS WITH SIMILAR VIEWS) IS WHEN THERE'S ENOUGH INTEREST TO COVER PRODUCTION COSTS, IF WE THINK THE MATERIAL IS WORTH DISSEMINATING.

Please don't get me wrong; I have no desire to denigrate the work that Peter Kennedy and his team carried out on our behalf. Many/most of the folkies of my generation took their inspiration from 'As I Rode Out', 'The Song Carriers' and the FSB series, and I for one will be eternally grateful for the fact that such a valuable and important treasure was saved for the nation, and for the access (albeit limited) I have been given to it.
But isn't it time that we now took a responsible attitude towards a body of work that has, to date, been under-valued, and in some cases abused?"
            FRANKLY, I THOUGHT (AND STILL THINK) THAT WAS WHAT I'M DOING.

Pardon the shouting, but I'm just trying to differentiate responses from questions

dick greenhaus
CAMSCO Music


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 03:12 PM

Dick,
Again, please don't get me wrong; I am not having a go at you or your efforts with Camsco; it seems to me we have inherited a situation rather than a collection.
Years ago I was lucky enough to be asked to work on the copies of the BBC acetate discs that are held at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, during the course of which, I listened to every disc in the collection, so I am well aware of what they are.
Our problem is amply illustrated in your last posting by the fact that out of the seven questions I asked, you were unable to answer four of them; not your fault, that is the situation as it stands.
It is my contention that, as the collection was inspired by the BBC and EFDSS and paid for by the taxpayer, and because technology has made it possible, all the material should be freely available to be accessed on the internet; this is the only way everybody who so desires can get to listen to it in its entirety; anything less would be a fudge.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 05:44 PM

Jim-
I couldn't agree more. But...who's going to bell the cat?
It costs money to edit, transfer and post things. I don't know about the BBC, but in this country th Library of Congress's treasure trove of field collections is literally withering away, due to lack of funds to process and transfer them to more stable media.
   Until some angels appear, I suspect that we're going to have to depend upon rank (or not-so-rank) commercialism to bridge the gap between the collections and the audience.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 03:00 PM

Dick,
Ah, you've found the Achilles Heel to my argument.
You are right of course, though if there were any justice in the world the BBC and the EFDSS (both prime movers of the project) should really share the responsibility and the costs of making the collection available. The BBC appeared to lose interest in it, and the EFDSS, though they were aware of what was happening, chose to look the other way.
The irony is that if the collection was in Ireland, I'm pretty sure money could be found for making such an important body of work available. To date, the traditional arts are well funded (touch wood).
The problem with the UK is that traditional music is not taken seriously by the powers-that-be, and quite often by the performers and audiences. Some people seem to believe that taking a music seriously negates the enjoyment - not true of course.
This doesn't mean that the collection doesn't rightfully belong in the public domain.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 05:23 PM

EFDSS was never directly involved, except insofar as they agreed to Peter Kennedy (at that time their employee) taking a sabbatical to work for the BBC instead. The Society had, and has, no proprietory rights in the recordings and was not responsible for the later confusion (and disputes) regarding ownership of those recordings. Nor did EFDSS 'look the other way'; having no legal interest in the material, there was nothing much it could do, though it did, as it happens, do its best to provide information and clarification on an unofficial basis.

The issue of rights was one between the BBC, Kennedy, and the other collectors engaged on the project whose recordings Kennedy issued from time to time; in some cases with, in others without, their consent. It appears that Kennedy habitually got singers to sign releases of some kind, and that these usually included an assignment of copyright; though, as Roy Palmer points out in Folk Music Journal (9, 3, 2008, 487-8) these were of doubtful legality except insofar as they related to the physical recordings, there being, in law, no copyright in an oral performance or a transcription of such.

As you can see from Martin Graebe's press release, posted in thread The Peter Kennedy Collection, the current arrangement re ownership of the physical collection and publishing rights to it involves the British Library Sound Archive, which will hold and conserve the materials and Topic Records, which will (at their own expense; as a commercial organisation rather than a charity, they will naturally need to sell these for money in order to recoup costs) issue extensive selections from them.

Some matters are not touched upon: the position of the BBC is one. I suppose we can assume that they have agreed to this arrangement. Kennedy maintained that he had made separate recordings in his own behalf, and that it was these, not those made for the BBC, which he issued. In fact this seems rather unlikely, but only a detailed comparison of the recordings would reveal the truth; not, (though the contrary has been suggested) a simple thing to do. We also do not know at this stage whether the 'Kennedy Collection' as referred to includes the recordings made by, among others, Bob Copper and Seamus Ennis, copies of which were held, and issued at various times on cassette and CDR, by FolkTrax. Kennedy appears to have had an agreement with Copper re publication rights, but not, for example, with Ennis.

Finally, the collection consists of tape recordings and cine film, plus digital copies made from them (in some cases of poor quality, in some interfered with; at one point Kennedy developed the annoying habit of applying reverb to choruses and refrains, though not consistently) and hard copy notes and supporting materials. I imagine that new digital copies will need to be made from the tapes, which will be costly and time consuming. Topic's involvement represents quite a financial commitment (and risk) on their part, I suspect.

Of course the material (like so many other things) ought to be made freely available; but in practice somebody, somewhere, has to cover the costs involved. In the absence of government or charitable funding, the only practical answer seems to be a commercial one.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Dec 07 - 10:04 AM

The most important copyright issues surround the original sound recordings. These will have been governed by the Copyright Act 1956, which applied at the time (if I am right that the recordings were made after late 1956).    Does anyone know with accuracy when the recordings were made?

Clearly Kennedy was the "maker" (see S. 12(4)). It seems likely that he was commissioned by the BBC to make those recordings so the BBC will have been the first owner of the copyright in those recordings (see the proviso to S 12 (4)).

Any assignment or licence of that copyright must therefore have flowed from the BBC.   If that was an assigment to a person later entering bankruptcy there may be interesting copyright consequences - but not (despite lobbying from some laywers) if it was an assignment to a company thereafter being liquidated, when the liquidator will have been able to sell the copyrights free of any royalty obligaiton to the BBC - but if it was a licence cessation of payment (if due) to the BBC is likely to have caused it to revert.

There may be issues about compilation copyrights arising from the selection and collocation of material from the Kennedy field recordings. I will ignore them.

There are provisions in the current Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) (see S 36) permitting the making of recordings of performances of folk songs (but, for some reason I do not know the reason for, although I have told what was the DTI of the defect, not words without the tunes of their songs, and not tunes that were never songs) and certain uses of those songs. It applies to recordings made for the archives of designated bodies. I think the EFDSS is such a body. But the recordings wre made for the BBC and not for the EFDSS archive (unless anyone knows different - if there was an agreement between the BBC and the EFDSS and it required deposits with the EFDSS it might be different) so that is out of the window.

Despite the best efforts of Cliff Richard, copyright in sound recordings in the UK is still 50 years from making, so if, say, the Kennedy recordings were made in 1960, then the EFDSS will be able to make and sell copies of the acetates they have after 31st December 2010.

IThere could also be issues about the performers' rights of the source singers. I would also need to do a bit more digging if we thought the overdubbed playing and singing was done by people who died less than 50 years ago. I am not sure, from memory, of the duration of pre-1988 performers rights after the passage of the 1988 Act, and I do know that our masters in Brussells have been screwing things up with directives....

The notes will be literary works, protected until 70 years after the death of the author.

Really must do some work now!


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 02 Dec 07 - 12:25 PM

THe odd thing about all this is the patent lack of interest shown by folkies. In the four years that I've been handling the FolkTrax material, I doubt if I've sold more than 100 copies in toto. And I susspect that Kennedy didn't do any better.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Dec 07 - 03:32 PM

Wanna PM me with the cost of an entire set? It is nearly Xmas after all....


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Dec 07 - 03:49 AM

Malcolm,
It would be extremely misleading to limit the involvement of EFDSS to agreeing "to Peter Kennedy (at that time their employee) taking a sabbatical to work for the BBC instead."
I attended a lecture at VWML years ago where the speaker (Craig Fees, I think - have the recording somewhere) made it fairly clear that EFDSS was far more involved than that. It is inconceivable that such a project should be embarked on without the full co-operation of the organisation representing folk music in the UK.
It is also misleading to put down their 'looking the other way' to their "having no legal interest in the material,". Such an organisation must surely have recognised the importance of the collection and should have had a moral obligation to seeing that it was handled responsibly.
Also, Kennedy's connection with EFDSS and its heirarchy implies (to me at least), some responsibility on their part. Any EFDSS official I ever attempted to discuss the matter with would smile kowingly and 'say nowt'.
However, my suggestion was a rhetorical one. I do not seriously expect the organisation to cough up funding to release the material, any more than I expect the BBC to stir from their long slumber and slay dragons.
You are not correct in saying it would be difficult to identify the recordings as being those made for the BBC. No singer sings the same song the same way twice. It is a fairly easy matter to identify individual performances, particularly where there is background and other superfluous noise. It just takes reasonably concentrated listening.
I don't know what, if any agreement was made with the other collectors, but I seem to remember a longish delay in releasing Bob Copper's recordings on the Topic album 'Songs and Southern Breezes' while negotiations took place with Kennedy.
I do know Seamus Ennis's attitude from first hand; vitriolic would be an understatement, and not just on the use that was made of his field recordings. I was once náive enough to mention his fiddle playing as represented on the Folktrax cassette 'Pigeon on the Gate'. Having no idea of its existence, he was livid.
All this aside, you are probably right when you say "the only practical answer seems to be a commercial one," (perhaps convenient is a better word than practical) which is a great shame as it will mean that the bulk of the song and music collection will only be available to the privileged few who happen to be in the vicinity of the B.L. and have a few months on their hands.
This leaves begging the availability of the rest of the collection not widely heard, the ceremonies, customs, beliefs, folk tales, legends and anecdotes - ah well.
Dick:
I'm not really surprised that the sales have been small, on a number of counts:
1. The recordings I have heard in the past (not Camsco's, which I have not heard) have been of poor quality, badly edited and poorly annotated and packaged, not particularly inspiring.
2. Many people, myself included, have operated a boycott on the cassettes and refused to buy them (rather like South African goods during the Apartheid period).
3. The sale of recordings of source singers has always been pitifully small, with punters choosing 'Martin's', or 'Nic's' or 'Peter's' rather than 'Sam's' or 'Harry's' or 'Bess's' version.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 03 Dec 07 - 11:25 AM

CAMSCO's re-issues are just that--reissues. My agreement with Peter Kennedy precluded my doing any remastering or editing; I just provided artwork, disc printing and packaging. Sound quality on most of the material is pretty good--for 1950's field recordings. Annotations, similarly, have only been edited to the extent that statements made in the present tense have been adjusted for the passage of time. These annotations vary from rather complete to non-existent.
    My comment on low sales was solely to point up the negligible cash value of whatever royalties may be due; and I've always offered to pay such royalties to anyone deservingly claiming them.


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Subject: RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain
From: GrandpaBill
Date: 03 Dec 07 - 12:44 PM

Hello All,
Just joined the Mudcat Cafe' as a result of stumbling upon this thread about the Topic/Caedmon Folksongs Of Britain Lps.
I have 3 on the Caedmon label, Vols.6,7&8, and would also like to have the whole set.
These are among the treasures of my folk collection.
Does anyone have a link to where the Folktrax Cassettes could be purchased? haven't been able to find anything by 'Googling'.
Thanks,
Bill Wheatley (aka 'GrandpaBill')


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