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'Critics' - Why?

MGM·Lion 30 Aug 09 - 03:46 AM
Stewie 30 Aug 09 - 04:53 AM
MGM·Lion 30 Aug 09 - 06:02 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Aug 09 - 06:05 AM
Jack Blandiver 30 Aug 09 - 06:05 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Aug 09 - 06:26 AM
Tim Leaning 30 Aug 09 - 06:45 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Aug 09 - 08:31 AM
Jack Blandiver 30 Aug 09 - 08:48 AM
Lighter 30 Aug 09 - 08:56 AM
Jack Campin 30 Aug 09 - 09:22 AM
The Sandman 30 Aug 09 - 09:28 AM
The Sandman 30 Aug 09 - 09:30 AM
Jack Blandiver 30 Aug 09 - 10:42 AM
Tim Leaning 30 Aug 09 - 10:55 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Aug 09 - 11:07 AM
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Subject: "The Critics" Group- Why?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 03:46 AM

I have searched the archive as best I can, and find to my surprise that nobody seems to have asked this question before. So, as a genuine, longtime, widely-published CRITIC of both theatre and folk, I ask it now:—

WHY did Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger call the group of young musicians they gathered around them, almost one might say as sort of disciples [I use the word in an entirely favourable and unemotional and non-pejorative sense], and so wonderfully and worthily mentored and encouraged, "The Critics Group"? In what way were they supposed to be critical, and of what?

I am genuinely exercised and curious about this.

Michael Grosvenor Myer


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Subject: RE: 'Critics' - Why?
From: Stewie
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 04:53 AM

There is a Wikipedia article that gives an answer to this, but I have no idea as to its accuracy.

CLICK

Jim Carroll is mentioned therein as a member of the group at one time. He is a member of Mudcat - send him a PM.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: 'Critics' - Why?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 06:02 AM

Thanks, Stewie. That's very helpful. I am in fact in PM touch with Jim, and knew he had been a 'Critic', but didn't PM him on this one as I hoped to broaden the number of potential repliers. I wonder why whoever put up the Wiki article specified [UK] in brackets after some, tho not all, names; but didn't specify that others were Americans, which it seems to me would have made more sense.


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Subject: RE: 'Critics' - Why?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 06:05 AM

Mike,
In a rush, so briefly -
The Wikipedia explanation is about right as far as I know.
Members of the group were appearing at a (Co-op?) concert and were asked for a name they could be billed under - Charlie came up with Critics Group (not a good name IMO)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 'Critics' - Why?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 06:05 AM

Jim Carroll is mentioned therein as a member of the group at one time.

Maybe that explains why he dismisses my own efforts as being somehow akin to bad pop singing. Ewan MacColl is one of the few singers I find it painful to listen to (Dylan is another) much less his over-mannered affectations which are about as convincing as a Derek Acorah trance. Jim also doesn't like Peter Bellamy, who I love almost as much as life itself; Jim Eldon likewise. One wonders what our critics really thought of the singing of Messrs Cox and Larner and All, revivalist hype notwithstanding...


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Subject: RE: 'Critics' - Why?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 06:26 AM

"Maybe that explains why he dismisses my own efforts as being somehow akin to bad pop singing"
Nope - I like to think it's because I have a pretty reasonably developed musical ear - sorry
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 'Critics' - Why?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 06:45 AM

Jim"pretty ears" Carroll?
Sounds like the 'Critics had fun,are there any other articles online we can go look at?


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Subject: RE: 'Critics' - Why?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 08:31 AM

Tim 'leaning on a lampost'
I've said elsewhere that the Critics Group or MacColl worked exclusively on each other's singing and never discussed other singers or clubs.
I have my notes for the talk I gave on the group at MacColl's 70th birthday symposium if anybody is interested, but I am not going to be around over the next week to take part in this discussion, much to my disappointment
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 'Critics' - Why?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 08:48 AM

I like to think it's because I have a pretty reasonably developed musical ear

It is positive attitudes like Jim's here that we have to thank for the thriving status enjoyed by Traditional Folk Song amongst other British Cultural Treasures today - born as it was out of a revival in which warmth, inclusivity, mutual support and encouragement was very much the order of the day.


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Subject: RE: 'Critics' - Why?
From: Lighter
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 08:56 AM

Am always interested to know: what precisely about MacColl's singing do you find "painful"? I've heard people say exactly the same thing about Peter Bellamy and Shirley Collins (among many others).

This is an honest question. I used to feel the same way about Dylan's singing. Forty years later I changed my mind. (Not that I *like* it much. I just think it's okay.)

Is it old age?


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Subject: RE: 'Critics' - Why?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 09:22 AM

Was Archie Fisher ever involved with that lot? His style sounds to me like it owes something to MacColl (though I rather prefer Fisher).

Peter Bellamy is somebody I listen to because it's Good For Me and he's Doing Something Important but I can't say I find his voice very appealing. The Maria Callas of English folk.


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Subject: RE: 'Critics' - Why?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 09:28 AM

I believe they were supposed to be critical of each other,not a bad idea,providing they had respect for each other.
the main problem with groups like this is that there will always be a pecking order,however hard Ewan would have tried to not let this happen he would have been number one in the heirarchy.
presumably, Ewans singing was criticised by other members.
the important thing to remember is that everyone was there voluntarily,therefore they thought that the criticism would improve them as singers.
there must have been a lot that singers could learn from Ewan othewr than purely singning,Stagecraft, presentation ,etc
Did the critics group ever discuss songwriting?,


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Subject: RE: 'Critics' - Why?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 09:30 AM

Peter Bellamy [imo]was quite a good singer in the sense ,he was a good interpreter/ story teller .


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Subject: RE: 'Critics' - Why?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 10:42 AM

I respect MacColl as a ballad singer because I'm listening to the ballad rather than to him, if you see what I mean - the songs are greater than he is! I take a similar attitude to many source singers - the pleasure comes in sitting with a bottle of Talisker and fistful of sleeve notes (some of them maybe by Jim) and soaking in the stench and context of the thing to get a flavour of the song. MacColl's ballads have similar reek about them, however so mannered his delivery, which isn't in the least bit musical to my ears, but then again I get musical pleasure from experimental, free jazz, medieval, avant classical, noise, and, right now, embarrassing doses of prog rock (including Tales from Topographic Oceans!).

This is the relationship I have to Folk Song - I don't listen to it for pleasure as such - it's always part of something else, another level of academic interest in the material itself which requires I go some distance to get what many singers are actually doing, or trying to do - MacColl included on those few occasions I might use him as a source. It's different with Peter Bellamy because he's blown my mind in both in performance & on record; I find Bellamy excites me to a near hysteria - Jim Eldon likewise. It's a pure visceral joy to listen to their singing, likewise certain traditional singers, such as Davie Stewart, who I do listen to for pure indulgent pleasure.

I enjoy ballads & traditional folk songs sung by some of the worst singers; in fact some of the self-confessed worst singers I find are the best performers, and certainly to most enjoyable. Such is my love of Traditional Songs & ballads I can, as a rule, enjoy any voice singing them, but only in context (field recordings / singarounds) which is where I enjoy such things best, and never entirely sober! With few exemptions, I can't listen to folk CDs or relax entirely in a Folk Concert, both of which seem to me to be entirely unnatural to the nature of folk which remains a thing best experienced in filthy, informal environments. I note with sorrow such habitats are becoming less common...

I was watching that Folk America thing last night on BBC4 and was like a pig in shit until it hit Bob Dylan and Joan Baez when I turned it off. Personal taste maybe, or something else, I don't know. I absolutely adore Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour though, in which he sounds like a cross between Zappa's central scrutiniser and Vic Reeves' Kinky John / Inspector Fowler. He plays some damn fine music too!


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Subject: RE: 'Critics' - Why?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 10:55 AM

Have a good week "Ears" lol
There are voices that are a joy to hear in themselves and there are voices that are only important for the song they are singing.
as in all things our view of which is which is purely personal.


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Subject: RE: 'Critics' - Why?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 11:07 AM

"It is positive attitudes like Jim's here that we have to thank for...."
Sorry if my not appreciating your singing upsets you so much - didn't know you cared?
Jim Carroll


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