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Review: Bellowhead- Broadside

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Les in Chorlton 09 Aug 12 - 09:08 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 09 Aug 12 - 10:09 AM
GUEST,Keith Price 09 Aug 12 - 10:12 AM
SteveMansfield 09 Aug 12 - 10:39 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 09 Aug 12 - 11:02 AM
GUEST 09 Aug 12 - 11:16 AM
Les in Chorlton 12 Aug 12 - 03:24 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 12 Aug 12 - 11:39 AM
Les in Chorlton 13 Aug 12 - 04:17 AM
John MacKenzie 13 Aug 12 - 05:18 AM
The Borchester Echo 13 Aug 12 - 05:33 AM
John MacKenzie 13 Aug 12 - 05:49 AM
Les in Chorlton 13 Aug 12 - 06:28 AM
GUEST 13 Aug 12 - 07:50 AM
Les in Chorlton 13 Aug 12 - 09:01 AM
Leadfingers 13 Aug 12 - 09:07 AM
Marje 13 Aug 12 - 09:16 AM
Les in Chorlton 13 Aug 12 - 10:08 AM
John MacKenzie 13 Aug 12 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 13 Aug 12 - 01:17 PM
GUEST,raymond greenoaken 14 Aug 12 - 04:21 AM
Les in Chorlton 14 Aug 12 - 04:34 AM
GUEST,FloraG 14 Aug 12 - 04:52 AM
Phil Edwards 14 Aug 12 - 05:20 AM
Les in Chorlton 14 Aug 12 - 05:28 AM
Phil Edwards 14 Aug 12 - 06:03 AM
Reinhard 14 Aug 12 - 06:41 AM
John MacKenzie 14 Aug 12 - 08:17 AM
GUEST,MegMacintyre 31 Aug 12 - 04:46 PM
Beer 31 Aug 12 - 04:58 PM
Steve Gardham 31 Aug 12 - 05:01 PM
Lester 01 Sep 12 - 03:44 AM
Les in Chorlton 01 Sep 12 - 04:10 AM
Bainbo 01 Sep 12 - 04:19 AM
theleveller 01 Sep 12 - 04:48 AM
Les in Chorlton 01 Sep 12 - 05:34 AM
theleveller 01 Sep 12 - 06:29 AM
Les in Chorlton 01 Sep 12 - 06:50 AM
theleveller 01 Sep 12 - 07:55 AM
Beer 01 Sep 12 - 08:38 AM
GUEST,MegMacintyre 01 Sep 12 - 12:19 PM
Jon Boden 03 Sep 12 - 07:47 AM
Reinhard 03 Sep 12 - 09:03 AM
Steve Gardham 03 Sep 12 - 02:37 PM
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Subject: Review: Bellowhead
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 09 Aug 12 - 09:08 AM

Track list from their latest album:
    Byker Hill
    The Old Dun Cow
    Roll The Woodpile Down
    10,000 Miles Away
    Betsy Baker
    Black Beetle Pies
    Thousands Or More
    Dockside Rant
    The Wife Of Usher's Well
    What's The Life Of A Man?
    Lillibulero
    Go My Way

I don't want to carp (karp?) I have seen them a couple of times and I think they are brilliant but they have recorded quite a lot of songs that many of us have been singing for 40+ years. Will people think I have been getting my songs from them - and should I care?

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 09 Aug 12 - 10:09 AM

I have a similar problem, Les - I've dropped a few old songs after being told they were 'Bellowhead Songs', including Cholera Camp which like so many I learnt from Songs & Rummy Conjurin' Tricks only weeks before Bellamy died. But then again, I made a special point of learning Fakenham Fair after our Norfolk holiday back in March when I was serenading Rachel with it around Morrisons in Fakenham (at least the 10% of it I had at the time). I even pride myself that I sing selling the chances rather than telling the fortunes as Bellowhead do, though I have tweaked it here & there (I tried for the brass lamp, and the fine Spanish shawl, and the Owl in Gold Filigree : such things we saw, if not in Fakenham itself, then very near it: I believe we saw the owl in the giftshop of the Pensthorpe Nature Reserve).

I doubt I'm too bothered about Usher's Well as I sing it too my own tune, likewise The Birth of Robin Hood, which Spiers & Boden did some years back. JB's version of Frankie's Trade on OAT was lately derided by certain members of the Shanty Scene who seem to have claimed the song as their own, which is a shame. I prefer JB's take on it entirely, and though it featured in a Kipling:Bellamy show we did at Fylde last year I've now dropped it entirely simply because I can't get JB's version out of my head.

Still, there's never a shortage of songs to sing, or ways in which to sing them. And I'm speaking very much as a common-or-garden session singer here; it's worse when Rachel & I have been pouring heart & soul into (say) The Waggoner Lad only to come off stage to find many in the audience have been under the illusion they were listening to a Joan Baez song - even the younger ones. 'I'm only 50!' I protest (directing them to the Harry Smith Anthology). 'Way too young for Joan Baez.'


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: GUEST,Keith Price
Date: 09 Aug 12 - 10:12 AM

I know what you mean Les but I wouldn't worry if I were you, I got all my songs 40+ years ago from revival singers like Dave Burland and Tony Rose, with two exceptions the pace egg song and the waltz for the veleta from Emma Vickers. Keep singing Les.


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 09 Aug 12 - 10:39 AM

I know what you mean Les but I wouldn't worry if I were you, I got all my songs 40+ years ago from revival singers like Dave Burland and Tony Rose, with two exceptions the pace egg song and the waltz for the veleta from Emma Vickers. Keep singing Les.

Likewise - I don't stop playing tunes because Bellowhead do them, any more than I do because any other high-profile band do. There was a roaring version of the Rochdale Coconut Dance at the session I was in on Tuesday, and that version owed far more to the Dead Horse Morris version than the Bellowhead one ...

Twenty (blimey, probably more) years ago it was The Albion Band who would popularise a tune and for a few years afterwards the ignorati would assume that you were only playing, say, Durham Rangers, because the Albions did.

Apart from the minor annoyance of the homogenisation that a famous version brings (in that the aforementioned ignorati assume that the Spinners / Albions / Bellowhead version is the only correct one and everyone else is 'playing it wrong'), does it really matter?


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 09 Aug 12 - 11:02 AM

Apart from the minor annoyance of the homogenisation that a famous version brings (....) does it really matter?

Indeed not. If anything it's a good excuse to learn some new material instead of relying on old chestnuts you've been singing for decades on end. Old chestnuts are always going to be new to someone, and I'm glad Bellowhead are keeping things fresh!


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Aug 12 - 11:16 AM

and when they pinched New York Girls from me, and changed it a bit, I was livid!!! ;-)


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 03:24 AM

Do we care?


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 11:39 AM

When I first heard Bellowhead I thought it was a great sound, and I enjoyed their first two albums. However I'm beginning to find the sound a bit boring, and the over-complex and noisy arrangements don't always seem to add anything to the songs, or even suit them. I'm sure they're great live.

I don't mind them changing songs, but it makes my heart sink when they perpetuate mondegreens, such as singing the meaningless "screw that cart and screw it down" in "Fire Marengo", and compounding the offence by printing those words on the album notes. Especially when the notes also show that they are aware it is a cotton-screwing shanty. No excuse really.


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 13 Aug 12 - 04:17 AM

Live they really are something special

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 13 Aug 12 - 05:18 AM

They're more music hall novelty act than serious folk performers.
Victor Sylvester would despair of their inability to keep a strict tempo.
AND !!!!
They're too bloody loud ;)


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 13 Aug 12 - 05:33 AM

Not "serious folk performers" (whatever that is)?
Have you looked at Bellowhead members' musical experience and qhalifications across a range of genres? And their involvement in a plethora of other musical projects?
They are quite able to keep a strict tempo when they want or to alter it to fit performance.
Loud? Yes, folk noise is good.


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 13 Aug 12 - 05:49 AM

Individual experience does not equal collective excellence.
Remember that a camel, is a horse designed by a committee

Glad to see you're back in fighting trim Diane ;)


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 13 Aug 12 - 06:28 AM

I wondered how long it would take to turn a bit tricky.

I'm with Diane. As for the camel - it evolved as have the musos in Bellowhead.

My only concern is that they are singing my songs - but then again they are mostly but not exclusively traditional

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Aug 12 - 07:50 AM

My only concern is that they are singing my songs

They're not exactly yours are they?


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 13 Aug 12 - 09:01 AM

Xlnt point Guest that's why I wrote:

but then again they are mostly but not exclusively traditional

Best wishes

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: Leadfingers
Date: 13 Aug 12 - 09:07 AM

It doesnt matter who else sings the songs that you do - as long as you are not apparently copying someone elses arrangement and treatment !
I am OFFICIALLY a SongThief , but dont steal everything from the one performer , but try to make the while treatment MINE , not a cheap copy .


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: Marje
Date: 13 Aug 12 - 09:16 AM

I tend to agree that Bellowhead are somehow less than the sum of the parts. I'm sure they're exciting to see live, at least at first, but even in recordings/videos I find the relentless noisiness and fuss gets a bit wearing, and you don't get to hear the individual skills of what I know are a very talented group of musicians. If others enjoy it, that's fine by me, it just isn't my preferred way of experiencing folk music.

But I don't mind in the least that they're doing a lot of old traditional songs. Some of the songs might seem a bit hackneyed to people who've been hearing or perforning them for decades, but Bellowhead appeal as well to a younger age group, some of whom won't be familiar with this repertoire. If Bellowhead can breathe new life into these songs and share them with a new generation, then good luck to them. And if they pick on a song I've been doing for 20 years and make it so commonplace that people get tired of it, I have plenty more songs I can revise or learn, and it will do me no harm to refresh my repertoire.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 13 Aug 12 - 10:08 AM

Thanks Marge, you put a good case

L


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 13 Aug 12 - 11:08 AM

Then youtget what I got the other night after I sang Scarborough Fair. Oh that's a Simon and Garfunkel song! :(


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 13 Aug 12 - 01:17 PM

A lot of younger singers are rediscovering songs which had fallen out of fashion because they had become hackneyed - the reason for that, of course, being that they are good songs. It's great that they're being revived.


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: GUEST,raymond greenoaken
Date: 14 Aug 12 - 04:21 AM

>Then youtget what I got the other night after I sang Scarborough Fair. Oh that's a Simon and Garfunkel song! :(

And they're right, of course. Maybe one day someone will say "Oh that's a John MacKenzie song." They'll be right too.


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 14 Aug 12 - 04:34 AM

I guess this thread is passed it's sell-by-date, so to speak but it may stumble on as such threads do.

Before it looses most of the original point I have been failing to make:

1. I really rate and enjoy Bellowhead - but best by far live
2. They do amazing things to old songs
3. They are accomplished musicians

But, but:

They have recorded quite a few songs that are unfamiliar and quite a few that many of us have been singing for a long time.

Does this matter? I guess not really but its a bit like The Rolling Stones recording a covers album of songs popular in pubs and clubs - not exactly but a bit.

I suppose we have been spoiled by some many singers and musicians trawling books and MS of old songs and recording songs and tunes that those of us who only sing a bit can then get them from their records and sing them as we like.


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 14 Aug 12 - 04:52 AM

Each generation will re invent the songs in their own style.

I have this memory of a Spiers and Boden concert with a largish group of teenage girls singing along to prickle eye bush. Now they are getting longer in the tooth I wonder who the next group will be to enthuse a generation.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Aug 12 - 05:20 AM

quite a few that many of us have been singing for a long time.

Looking down that track listing - Byker Hill, The Old Dun Cow, Thousands Or More - it does look a bit like Bellowhead Play Singaround Favourites. I wonder if it's connected with Jon Boden's new-found enthusiasm for social singing, as shown by the AFSAD project.

Does it matter? If they mess the songs up and lots of people then turn up at clubs & singarounds singing the messed-up versions, that would be mildly annoying. But it's like Ruskin complaining about the railway coming to the Lake District, on the grounds that if you wanted to experience the beauties of nature you should be prepared to make an effort. We might prefer it if fewer people did some of those songs, just as we might prefer to have the Lakes to ourselves, but ultimately it's better for more people to hear them (or see them). And the songs (and the Lakes) can take it - they'll still be there afterwards.

Pausing to get my breath back after that extended simile... The other thing that comes to mind is that a lot of singaround standards don't get heard anywhere else. If you go to a singaround regularly it's only a matter of time before you hear Fathom the Bowl or Glorious Ale or Byker Hill; if you don't, you might never hear them at all. This struck me when Ian "not that one, the other one" Anderson wrote something on fRoots "about traditional songs which are your chorus songs from hell". His list went like this:

The Old Dun Cow
The Keeper
Jones's Ale
Joe The Carrier Lad
The Threshing Machine
Whisky In The Jar
and of course The Wild Rover


I'm not crazy about the last two, but I like the Old Dun Cow and I sing Jones's Ale myself. More to the point, the other three are songs I've actually never heard sung live. (And I heard Jones's Ale for the first time about three years ago, at a singaround.) One folkie's hackneyed old chestnut is another's exciting new discovery.


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 14 Aug 12 - 05:28 AM

Well Mr Edwards, you talk a lot of sense for my money. I feel you must be involved in some seriously good singin and playin?

Les, missing this week, in Chorlton, as will be near Bath


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Aug 12 - 06:03 AM

'Tis true, the regulars at the Beech taught me everything I know. So blame them.


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: Reinhard
Date: 14 Aug 12 - 06:41 AM

Looking down that track listing - Byker Hill, The Old Dun Cow, Thousands Or More - it does look a bit like Bellowhead Play Singaround Favourites.

Maybe, if all or even most songs were on this album due to their popularity. But I don't know of any previous recording of Betsy Baker - at least not on the several thousand albums that I own - and just a few of Roll The Woodpile Down, The Wife of Usher's Well or Won't You Go My Way. I think this will be a healthy mix of well known and seldom heard stuff.

By the way, why is this thread called 'Review'? Has anybody heard the album yet? It seems more like wild speculation up to now.


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 14 Aug 12 - 08:17 AM

Dave Goulder once said to me, he liked my singing all the old songs.
My reply was, that they weren't old when I learned them.
That's what the oral tradition's based on. Old buggers like me who can't be arsed to learn new material (Joke)


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Subject: Review: Bellowhead - Broadside
From: GUEST,MegMacintyre
Date: 31 Aug 12 - 04:46 PM

Of course the album hasn't been released yet, but I may be able to give you folks some idea - or warning! ;-) - of what to expect. Not so much a review as just some scattered notes on the tracks.

I must admit I'm a fan of bellowhead, so I love the new album. If you didn't like any of the others, then it's unlikely you'll like this one; it's not radically different to anything they've done before - just with some great new tracks. More of a 'musical' album than the previous one, which was more 'live', if that makes sense.

1, Byker Hill - A great version, just as I'd expected it'd sound by Bellowhead, great uplifting chorus. (idea of what it sounds like live here (not very good sound)

2, Old Dun Cow - This track got a little getting use to, but I think I really like it. Well know folk song put to a great tune. Not so much a folky arrangement I wouldn't have said, but I really like.

3, Roll the Woodpile Down - A track from "way down in Florida" - lovely oboe and fiddle on this one. Probably my favorite on the album. (live here - different lyrics to album version though)

4, 10,000 Miles Away - to be released as a single in September, I can see why, great catchy chorus and tune.

5, Betsy Baker - Another lovely track, one of my favorites, great story and cracking tune. Love the oboe. (live here)

6, Black Beetle Pies - Quite different from the usual BH stuff, very dark and gory but very listenable.

7, Thousands or More - starts off in 'copper family style' - all vocals but not far in, a fast tune joins in. Not my favorite track but it's very listenable.

8, Dockside Rant - Lovely tune, what more can you say! Very catchy!!

9, The Wife Of Usher's Well - Not too much of a tune; I'd call the arrangement 'epic', it has that sort of feel, quite spooky as well.

10, What's The Life Of A Man? - This one's grown on me; quite an odd track but still not totally sure. Lots of odd sound effects, like swanney whistles and what sounds like a dog's squeaky toy! Very weird!

11, Lilliburlero - The story more commonly known as the 'farmer's curst wife' to the tune (and chorus) of Lilliburlero. One of the more lively BH tracks! (track here)

12, Go My Way - Lot more lyrics than I'd heard in previous versions of the song (doesn't sounds so much of a sea shanty here), a broken love story, one line being: "do you think that I am foolish, do you think that I am mad, for to marry with the likes of you when there's no money to be had". Ends by going into a tune which slowly builds, a fitting end to the album.

Looking forward to seeing it all live now at the Roundhouse later this year!


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead - Broadside
From: Beer
Date: 31 Aug 12 - 04:58 PM

I never heard of them but then I'm in Quebec. I think they are fantastic. Thanks for sharing.
Adrien


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead - Broadside
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 31 Aug 12 - 05:01 PM

How does the album title fit in here? Just curious.


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead - Broadside
From: Lester
Date: 01 Sep 12 - 03:44 AM

Not a fan myself so please ignore if you are but I have listened to the samples on Amazon and hate Thousands or More and really hate What's the Life of a Man.

Bellowhead appear to only have one sound which they smear over everything whether it suits or not.

YMMV


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead- Broadside
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 Sep 12 - 04:10 AM

"only have one sound" - unlike .........................

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead- Broadside
From: Bainbo
Date: 01 Sep 12 - 04:19 AM

Adrien - there's a pleasing circularity that Bellowhead's sound pleases you in Quebec. John Spiers and Jon Boden freely admit that the reason they went for the big brass sound when they put the band together was because they wanted to sound like La Bottine Souriante.

Obviously, they don't sound exactly the same, as LBS play - mostly - Quebecois music and Bellowhead play - mostly - English music. But that was the inspiration.


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead- Broadside
From: theleveller
Date: 01 Sep 12 - 04:48 AM

The best thing about Bellowhead is that they're fun. Remember fun?


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead- Broadside
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 Sep 12 - 05:34 AM

Spot Ms/Mr theleveler!

Also exteremely compitant, imaginative and skilled musicians. I just wish they would stop playing songs that some of us have been singing for 40 odd years - but such is the folk process?

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead- Broadside
From: theleveller
Date: 01 Sep 12 - 06:29 AM

" I just wish they would stop playing songs that some of us have been singing for 40 odd years "

But why? It's always (OK, sometimes) good to hear a new take on an old song. Just think how many different versions of John Barleycorn, The Recruited Collier or Reynardine there are - some good, some bad, but all different. Folk songs are, by their very nature, public property and it's good that they're kept alive by new generations. As you say, the folk process.


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead- Broadside
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 Sep 12 - 06:50 AM

It's not really a crticism. I guess I am so used to people at the recording end of folk releasing CDs with stuff I haven't heard much

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead- Broadside
From: theleveller
Date: 01 Sep 12 - 07:55 AM

Fair point!


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead- Broadside
From: Beer
Date: 01 Sep 12 - 08:38 AM

Very interesting Bainbo.
Thanks.
ad.


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead- Broadside
From: GUEST,MegMacintyre
Date: 01 Sep 12 - 12:19 PM

Going back to Steve's point: "How does the album title fit in here? Just curious." The write up says this: "a title that rather cunningly melds an early form of printed song sharing with an appropriate nautical reference to firepower" - with some tracks being nautical-themed and many others being broadside ballads.

They released their music video for their upcomming single 10,000 Miles Away here. The track you can hear there is actually the radio edit, with louder drums and turned up bass and withsome bits chopped out. I don't really like this version - the one on the album is much better; easier on the ears.

And to be honest, I think I agree with you Lester on one point; after a few more listens I don't think I like Life of Man at all. But saying Bellowhead have "only have one sound" could not be further from the truth.


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead- Broadside
From: Jon Boden
Date: 03 Sep 12 - 07:47 AM

From: GUEST,Howard Jones -

"I don't mind them changing songs, but it makes my heart sink when they perpetuate mondegreens, such as singing the meaningless "screw that cart and screw it down" in "Fire Marengo", and compounding the offence by printing those words on the album notes. Especially when the notes also show that they are aware it is a cotton-screwing shanty. No excuse really."

Yup, have to put my hands up to that. Only dawned on me a couple of years ago, since when I have tried to sing it 'correctly' onstage (although it's pretty ingrained now.) My only defence is that I learnt that song aged 19 off a Dave Webber cassette (in the days before you could look stuff up on Mudcat...) to sing at a singaround, and it never occurred to me thenceforth that i might have heard it wrong. As you say, pretty dumb given it's a cotton screwing shanty.

I also have to own-up to a couple of mondegreens on Copshaholme Fair (recently revealed to me in a spectacular fashion whilst duetting with Maddy Prior in front of 2000 people - a tad embarrassing..)

As far as I'm aware I've not recorded any mondegreens since Burlesque (2006), but I could be wrong!

Jon


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead- Broadside
From: Reinhard
Date: 03 Sep 12 - 09:03 AM

Such things just happen occasionally and one shouldn't make a fuss but just quietly correct 'em like Jon does. And they happen not only in the form of sung mondegreens. The printed lyrics in Fay's album "Orfeo" have two quite funny typos too, or rather homophones; but they don't hinder me enjoying these beautiful songs!


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Subject: RE: Review: Bellowhead- Broadside
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Sep 12 - 02:37 PM

Just a daft suggestion, Jon.
Why not record an album with at least one mondegreen in each song and offer a prize for spotting the most? You'd have brilliant sales from the Mudcat lot alone!


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