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Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited

Bob the Postman 30 Nov 08 - 06:54 PM
mark gregory 30 Nov 08 - 08:17 PM
Bob the Postman 30 Nov 08 - 09:15 PM
mark gregory 30 Nov 08 - 09:36 PM
Dave Hanson 01 Dec 08 - 03:21 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Dec 08 - 04:00 AM
Newport Boy 01 Dec 08 - 07:17 AM
Brian Peters 01 Dec 08 - 07:25 AM
Bob the Postman 01 Dec 08 - 09:22 PM
Jon Bartlett 02 Dec 08 - 03:21 AM
Bob the Postman 02 Dec 08 - 09:02 PM
Reinhard 01 Feb 09 - 03:16 PM
Snuffy 02 Feb 09 - 04:03 AM
Wolfhound person 02 Feb 09 - 04:58 AM
Nerd 02 Feb 09 - 12:35 PM
Newport Boy 02 Feb 09 - 12:43 PM
Reinhard 02 Feb 09 - 01:54 PM
Nerd 02 Feb 09 - 02:00 PM
MartinRyan 03 Feb 09 - 01:59 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 06:54 PM

Since there is a Bert Lloyd Tribute thread currently active on the board, I will take this opportunity to ask for people's memories of the Topic LP "The Iron Muse", in which the great man had a hand as editor and performer. A friend of mine recently bought this record in a garage sale and I have had the idea of using it in a series of short features for the labour issues show on our local co-op radio station.

So my question is, what effect did The Iron Muse have on you as a musician or as a citizen? Was it just another disc or was it a cultural icon? Did it radicalise you or merely bore you? Did you brandish it about the uni cafeteria in a pathetic attempt to meet girls or did you hide it behind the couch when your parents unexpectedly dropped round? Did you learn all the songs or did you know them already, only more authentic versions? Or did you purposely scratch your flatmate's copy so the damn thing couldn't be played anymore?

Ready, set, reminisce.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: mark gregory
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 08:17 PM

I can remember when I first heard it in Sydney in the mid 1960s and I'd have to say it was a revelation ... I was already aware of some industrial songs and music especially via Pete Seegers 1957 LP American Industrial Ballads and a number of IWW and trade union songs.

Lloyd's Panorama of "industrial folk music" introduced me to songs I still sing and to glorious singers like Louis Killen, Bob Davenport, Annie Briggs, Ray Fisher, Matt McGinn and that amazing impromptue group called The Celebrated Working Man's Band!

It also raised the question of how industrial songs relate to folk songs .... Lloyd put it like this on the LP Sleeve:

What is folk song? The term is vague and seems to be getting vaguer. However, the songs on this record may conveniently be called "industrial folk songs" for without exception they were created by industrial workers out of their own daily experience and were circulated, mainly by word of mouth to be used by the songwriter's workmates in mines, mills and foundries. That other branch of workers' song, made by learned writers and musicians on behalf of the proletariat and passed on chiefly through print is not represented on this record. However excellent, such songs belong to a different order and require some other label than that of "folk song". Here, we repeat, our concern is with songs made by working people out of their own traditions and for their own use.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 09:15 PM

Thanks, Mark, great to hear from the horse's mouth right off the bat. What you say about being introduced to "glorious singers like Louis Killen, Bob Davenport, Annie Briggs, Ray Fisher, & Matt McGinn" is exactly how I feel, 40-odd years on. Such a lucky break for me that my mate stumbled across this LP and knew it for what it was. And he himself is totally smitten with the voice of Sister Briggs and is asking "why am I only finding out about her now".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: mark gregory
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 09:36 PM

Bert's singing on the LP was glorious too in Pit Boots, Celebrated Working Man, Poor Cotton Weaver and The Weaver and the Factory Maid

There is whole web page devoted to the Iron Muse, and it's 1993 CD offspring at Reinhard Zierke's invaluable set of folk music record etc pages:

http://www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/~zierke/folk/records/theironmuse.html


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 03:21 AM

One song I heard for the first time on this record was ' The Little Piecer ' beautifully sung by Dave Brooks, who used to sing in a duo with Bernard Wrigley and later his wife June, whatever happened to him ?

eric


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 04:00 AM

Feel a little like the boy who couldn't see the Emperor's new clothes but 'The Little Piecer' is certainly not on the vinyl 'Iron Muse' I have - was it re-issued on CD with more tracks and artists - don't have Dave Brooks either?
The album was tremendously influential in establishing industrial song on the map, though it certainly wasn't the first; MacColl had already made a start with 'Shuttle and Cage' and 'Second Shift' and both he and Bert had been taking up the cudgels on behalf of the genre with MacColl's (small) printed song collection, 'Shuttle and Cage' and Bert's 'Come All You Bold Miners.
Stirring times.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: Newport Boy
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 07:17 AM

The tracks on the CD are:

The Iron Muse (1993)
1.  The Sandgate Girl's Lament; Elsie Marley (The High Level Ranters)      
2.  Doon the Waggonway   (The High Level Ranters)      
3.  A Miner's Life   (Tommy Gilfellon)   
4.  The Coal -Owner and the Pitman's Wife   Ewan MacColl acc. Peggy Seeger)         
5.  The Trimdon Grange Explosion    (Louis Killen)
6.  The Blackleg Miners   Louis Killen)
7.  The Auchengeich Disaster (Dick Gaughan acc. Alistair Anderson)      
8.  Ee Aye, Aa Cud Hew    (Ed Pickford)   
9.  The Durham Lockout    (Maureen Cralk acc. Colin Ross)      
10. Aa'm Glad the Strike's Done    (The High Level Ranters)      
11. The Weaver's March    (The Celebrated Working Man's Band)      
12. The Spinner's Song   (Ray Fisher acc. Colin Ross & Alf Edwards)      
13. Oh, Dear Me (Ewan MacColl acc. Peggy Seeger)         
14. The Doffing Mistress   (Anne Briggs)   
15. The Little Piercer (Dave Brooks)   
16. The Hand-Loom Weaver's Lament (Harry Boardman acc. banjo & fiddle)      
17. The Dundee Lassie   (Ray Fisher)   
18. Success to the Weavers   (The Oldham Tinkers)      
19. Fourpence a Day    (Ewan MacColl acc. Peggy Seeger)         
20. Up the Raw (Louis Killen acc. Colin Ross)   
21. Bonny Woodha'    (Dick Gaughan)   
22. The Banks of the Dee    (Louis Killen)
23. The Row Between the Cages    (Bob Davenport acc. Celebrated Working Man's Band)            
24. Aw Wish Pay Friday Would Come   (Louis Killen acc. Colin Ross)   
25. Keep Your Feet Still, Geordie Hinny   (Louis Killen acc. Colin Ross & Johnny Handle)      
26. Farewell to the Monty    (Louis Killen)

The CD is a collection based on the original vinyl issue. According to the very badly edited notes on the insert, this collection is from
The Iron Muse (12T86) - presumably the whole record.
The Bonny Pit Laddie (2-12TS271-2) - 'some songs'
1 song each from:
Deep Lancashire (12T188)
Owdham Edge (12T204)
Oldham's Burning Sands (12TS206)
Along The Coally Tyne (12T189)
Canny Newcassell (12TS219)
Tommy Armstrong of Tyneside (12T122)
Northumberland for Ever (12TS186)
'Ewan MacColl's contributions are drawn from:'
Steam Whistle Ballads (12T104)

I had the original vinyl, but it seems to have gone astray.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 07:25 AM

'Little Piecer' was on 'Owdham Edge' by Harry Boardman et al. Originally a poem, I've seen it credited both to Fred Brown and Gordon Allen North - anyone know which is correct?

I've never heard anything of Dave Brooks apart from this track.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 09:22 PM

Thanks for the input, neighbours. I don't want to rehash the hash in the other Iron Muse thread, but I'll refresh this for one more day.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 03:21 AM

I first heard it in the 60's and it opened a discussion on the question "what is working class music?" which is still apposite. My first interlocutor on the question was my father, who thought that the point of any socialist revolution was to make irrelevant such questions - "we want to abolish classes, not celebrate them," is the thrust of his argument in a nutshell. I wasn't sure then and I'm not sure now. My work these days is the recovery of what we call vernacular song from small newspapers in BC's small mining towns. We've made a CD of such songs from our home town ("Now It's Called Princeton") and have done enough research to assure ourselves that Princeton and its newspapers was not unique - there are clearly hundreds of "working class" or vernacular songs between here and the Alberta coalfields. The creators of the Iron Muse certainly planted a seed!

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 09:02 PM

Thanks for your comments, Jon. Reminds me to get off my duff and go out and buy "Now it's called Princeton". And of course out in the Comox Valley, on the other side of Princeton than the Crow's Nest, Gordon Carter is still making good songs about coal-town life.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: Reinhard
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 03:16 PM

I wonder about the release date of The Iron Muse. All factual evidence point to 1963. The Mustrad Topic Records discography places it amongst a handful of other albums released in 1963; the sleeve notes of Anne Briggs: A Collection state it was released in March 1963; it grew out of the Centre 42 project which ran in the beginning of the 1960s; and my copy of the LP says on its beige record label: "first published 1963 by Topic Records Ltd".

But the sleeve notes of the Iron Muse CD say: "As far back as 1956 Topic Records released the original vinyl album which bore the same name as this one." And I have been shown a copy of the Iron Muse LP that says on it blue record label: "First published by Topic 1956". Anne Briggs was 11 at that time...

Where does the date 1956 come from?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: Snuffy
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 04:03 AM

"As far back as 1956 Topic Records released the original vinyl album which bore the same name as this one."

That sounds like two separate albums to me: one in 1956 and seven years later an entirely different one (with the same name).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 04:58 AM

In 1956 Alistair A would have been around 8.
HLR did not form until 1958 at the earliest.

Paws


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: Nerd
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 12:35 PM

According to the Topic Discography at Musical Traditions, there was a Topic 78 of "The Iron Horse" in 1956. Maybe whoever wrote those 1993 CD notes confused it with The Iron Muse.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: Newport Boy
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 12:43 PM

Highly likely - the CD notes are very badly edited.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: Reinhard
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 01:54 PM

Thank you, Nerd, that is a good explanation. Shame on me for not noticing the "Iron Horse" in the discography ;-)

Paws: Alistair Anderson's and the High Level Ranter's tracks are on the CD only, not on the original "Iron Muse" LP.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: Nerd
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 02:00 PM

I just realized, though, that the mistake must have been made before 1993, if it is also on the blue label of the LP you saw! So the 1993 editor was just repeating the earlier error.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Iron Muse Reminiscences Solicited
From: MartinRyan
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 01:59 PM

Sang "The Trimdon Grange Explosion" at our local session last night - for the first time in many years. The current recession seems to have revived an interest in the troubles of the working class in general and mining songs in particular!

Regards
p.s. Irish audiences unfamiliar with the song tend to look slightly puzzled, as they try to recognise the tune usually employed - it's a version of "The humour is on me now!".


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