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Bright Phoebus reissued

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Brian Peters 05 Dec 18 - 12:26 PM
GUEST,matt milton 05 Dec 18 - 01:00 PM
punkfolkrocker 05 Dec 18 - 01:34 PM
Tony Rees 05 Dec 18 - 01:52 PM
Tony Rees 05 Dec 18 - 01:55 PM
Tony Rees 05 Dec 18 - 01:59 PM
Reinhard 05 Dec 18 - 02:53 PM
graham_t 05 Dec 18 - 03:42 PM
Tony Rees 05 Dec 18 - 05:22 PM
GUEST,21st Century Primitive 05 Dec 18 - 06:47 PM
punkfolkrocker 05 Dec 18 - 09:15 PM
GUEST,Cj 06 Dec 18 - 03:08 AM
GUEST,giovanni 07 Dec 18 - 01:13 AM
Vic Smith 07 Dec 18 - 05:35 AM
Howard Jones 07 Dec 18 - 08:12 AM
Tony Rees 07 Dec 18 - 01:34 PM
GUEST,Cj 07 Dec 18 - 06:32 PM
GUEST,giovanni 08 Dec 18 - 11:59 AM
punkfolkrocker 08 Dec 18 - 01:00 PM
Tony Rees 08 Dec 18 - 01:33 PM
Steve Shaw 08 Dec 18 - 08:27 PM
GUEST,Cj 17 Feb 19 - 12:45 PM
Howard Jones 18 Feb 19 - 05:38 AM
GUEST,Guest - CJB 18 Feb 19 - 03:45 PM
Howard Jones 18 Feb 19 - 07:39 PM
Cool Hand Uke 10 Feb 21 - 03:16 PM
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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Dec 18 - 12:26 PM

I've not checked very thoroughly for omissions, Vic, but here is Mainly Norfolk's Leader / Trailer discography


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 05 Dec 18 - 01:00 PM

"CM is now apparently in the hands of Dave's son, who I believe is also a musician, and as a younger person hopefully has a better understanding of how to deal with the catalogue in the digital age. Done properly, I beleive it could be a commercially viable enterprise to make many of these important recordings available to the public, and to go some way to repairing the damage to his father's reputation. But we'll have to see."

It's good to hear that Bulmer Jnr is a musician: that might make a difference to his perspective on albums lying unheard and artists going unpaid.

What I want to know is what happens to the money generated by Domino from sales? Presumably a lot - maybe all - will have gone to court costs, but it still must have made a fair bit for the Watersons. Which is nice. Are court costs tax deductible? Maybe it'll end up being a tax-loss for Domino? A kind of not totally unhappy ending.


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 05 Dec 18 - 01:34 PM

According to a Financial Times review I read yesterday, Domino had bought the rights to Bright Phoebus...???????

Sorry about the long copy n paste,
but the review may or may not be hidden under a pay wall...
sometimes the link works, sometimes it don't...

Relevant bit near the end highlighted in BOLD...

https://www.ft.com/content/b99de558-6dff-11e7-b9c7-15af748b60d0


"Bright Phoebus: rebirth of a magical vision of Britain
A classic folk-rock album is finally being re-released after decades in limbo

From left, Lal Waterson, John Harrison, Mike and Norma Waterson in Hull in 1966 “It’s illuminating, like the sun,” says singer-songwriter Richard Hawley about Bright Phoebus, the 1972 album by Lal and Mike Waterson. They instinctively knew, says Hawley, that “simplicity is where the magic is”.

Bright Phoebus has been compared to Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for its originality, variety, cast of strange imaginary characters and evocation of a magical Britain. It features a supporting cast of the biggest names in British folk, including Norma Waterson, Martin Carthy, Richard Thompson, Ashley Hutchings and Maddy Prior — yet it has never been widely available. Lal died in 1998 and Mike in 2011. But now, with renewed interest from a new generation of music fans, Bright Phoebus is at last being reissued.

Yorkshire siblings Elaine (“Lal”), Mike and Norma Waterson, along with their cousin John Harrison, made up The Watersons, who were celebrated in 1960s folk circles for their close-harmony singing, often unaccompanied, of traditional songs. But Bright Phoebus was a radical departure for the group. These were original compositions rather than their previous fare of traditional songs, and they were accompanied by a backing band. There was also a broad range of styles: “Rubber Band” is a raucous singalong; the title track has a country feel; “Danny Rose” is a rockabilly shuffle; even musique concrète, with siren sounds closing “Winifer Odd”.

“They listened to all sorts of things,” says Lal’s daughter, Marry Waterson. “They weren’t just drawing on traditional music. My mum had all the Rolling Stones albums. There’s classical in there, all sorts of stuff.”

The Watersons had ceased performing in 1968, but Lal and Mike continued making music for their own enjoyment. “It was a house full of music,” says Marry of her childhood home. “They’d sit in front of the fire with their ciggies and their cups of tea, just singing and playing.” Lal and Mike had also begun writing their own songs, which drew on the rituals, tragedies and mysteries of everyday life that The Watersons had sung about on albums such as Frost and Fire. “Winifer Odd” was named after Mike’s daughter Sarah’s imaginary friend; “The Scarecrow” was a chilling tale of human sacrifice; and the stillbirth of one of Lal’s twins inspired “Child Among the Weeds”.

In 1971, Lal played her songs to guitarist Martin Carthy. “I was really intrigued,” he says. Carthy alerted bassist Ashley Hutchings, his then-bandmate in Steeleye Span, who immediately began organising sessions for an album. While Hutchings recruited guitarist Richard Thompson, drummer Dave Mattacks and producer Bill Leader, Carthy was painstakingly learning Lal’s songs. She did not understand musical theory and did not play recognisable guitar chords. “Lal had a very odd way of playing the guitar,” says Carthy. “What she played made no sense. I was really picking my way through this jungle of what she was playing. But she had a really clear idea of what she wanted.”

Bright Phoebus was recorded in just a week in a makeshift studio at Cecil Sharp House, the folk arts centre in Camden, north London. “They made it on a shoestring,” says Hawley. “The scope of their ideas was far beyond the recording techniques or the budget that they had to make the record on.”

“‘Child Among the Weeds’ was one of the highlights for me,” says Carthy. “We only did one take. We got to the end of it, and we just looked at each other. And everybody knew that this was an extraordinary moment.” The sessions were alive with experimentation, he says. “This bloke turned up to deliver something. We said, just join in with this song. And he stood there with us and he sang. He forgot to leave his name, left his parcel and disappeared. So there’s a mystery person on the album!” But, he adds: “There was tremendous discipline in the studio. It could easily have descended into chaos, but it never did.”

Norma Waterson sings “Red Wine Promises”, Lal’s tale of a drunken night out. Her return to the UK after working in Montserrat heightened the joyous atmosphere of the sessions — especially for her and Carthy. “We got married about three weeks afterwards,” says Carthy. “It was a special week in every possible sense.”

However, Bright Phoebus was greeted with dismay from many Watersons fans. “It really upset people,” says Carthy. “Because The Watersons had been off the road for four years and their first comeback record was this stuff, people were furious. They just did not get it.”

“It was a bit like that Bob Dylan electric thing,” says Marry. “The fans had got used to Frost and Fire and all that, and that’s what they wanted to hear.” She says The Watersons found the purists’ reaction “utterly dismaying”. “It was ridiculous, what they did. Hull folk club museum even formed a committee to ‘protect The Watersons’ legacy’.”

Carthy says the Watersons themselves were never folk “diehards”. “Tradition isn’t an edifice, it’s a process,” he says. “They understood that better than anybody.” But they were still shaken by the negative reaction. “I think the way it was received is probably the reason that Mike never sang any of his songs,” says Carthy.

Just 2,000 copies were manufactured in 1972, half of them unplayable because the hole was pressed off-centre. With lukewarm support from fans, the album went out of print. Financial problems forced Leader to sell his record labels. The new owner, Highway, sold the rights to a third company, Celtic Music, which focused on Leader’s recordings of Irish traditional music. Bright Phoebus remained unreleased.

But its reputation grew. In 2013 the Bright Phoebus Revisited Tour, featuring a band that included Marry, Carthy and Hawley with Jarvis Cocker, along with a BBC Radio 4 documentary, provided clear evidence of strong interest in the album. “It was ahead of its time,” says Marry. With demand for its release from a growing number of fervent fans unswayed by arcane arguments about folk music purity, Domino Records has bought the rights and remastered it. “It feels bloody great,” says Marry.

Hawley says he continues to be inspired by the integrity of Bright Phoebus. “One of the hardest things is to be yourself when you’re getting pushed and pulled and marketed,” he says. “It’s a great success if you can manage to achieve that lofty high.”

‘Bright Phoebus’ is released on August 4, dominorecordco.com
"


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: Tony Rees
Date: 05 Dec 18 - 01:52 PM

RE Vic Smith's question:
>Is there anyone that can add to my list of Leader releases?

You should consult the Musical Traditions discography here:

http://www.mustrad.org.uk/discos/lea_txt3.htm#leader

Just bear in mind that the leading number in each catalogue number is set not to display (visually), for better flow, such that e.g. LEA 4001 displays without the "4", and so on (however if you do a copy-and paste the full numbers come through).

My understanding is that this is a complete list, although I also know that sometimes Musical Traditions omits releases it considers "contemporary" or "revival" - but not sure it does in this case - hope it helps. Regards - Tony


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: Tony Rees
Date: 05 Dec 18 - 01:55 PM

Also note that in the list above, the Leader releases ("LEA") are interspersed with Trailer "LER") and perhaps others, so you will have to subset them out...

Cheers - Tony


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: Tony Rees
Date: 05 Dec 18 - 01:59 PM

And some prefixes are given as LEE not LEA, e.g. "LEE 4054 Cecilia Costello" - not sure whether this is correct or an error (someone with the original releases can confirm either way).


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: Reinhard
Date: 05 Dec 18 - 02:53 PM

Yes Tony, there were different prefixes, for the the “traditional” Leader label: LEA, LED, LEE; and for the “revival” Trailer label: LER, LES (Bright Phoebus only), LETSAM (Our Folk Music Heritage only). The first digit was a price category, followed by a three-digit consecutive number. I do believe Rod Stradling's discography on Musical Traditions and mine on Mainly Norfolk (which is based on Rod's) as linked above are complete.


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: graham_t
Date: 05 Dec 18 - 03:42 PM

What other labels did Bulmer acquire? Black Crow for one, I think. Rubber?


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: Tony Rees
Date: 05 Dec 18 - 05:22 PM

Back in 2016, when I was compiling information for the Wikipedia entry "Celtic Music (record label)", I researched this question and the list of labels acquired by CM which I came up with was Leader, Trailer, Rubber Records, Black Crow, Dambuster, Highway, Sweet Folk and Country, Greenwich Village, Mulligan, Broadside, Folk Heritage, and Making Waves. This list may of course contain errors or be incomplete, and I would be happy to be advised if either of these is the case.

I found the information from a range of mostly internet sources but cannot remember exactly which piece of information came from where...

Regards - Tony


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: GUEST,21st Century Primitive
Date: 05 Dec 18 - 06:47 PM

In response to GUEST,Anonymous Date: 04 Dec 18 - 09:39 PM.

I’ll come back to some of your other points later. For now, let’s clear up the issue of the masters. It’s quite feasible that CM do have a copy of the masters, although past discussions of this issue would indicate that they have been stored in far from optimal circumstances, which might explain why the poor quality CM reissue sounds like a needle drop bootleg from vinyl. However, there will also have been reference copies of masters of Leader releases made, which will have not necessarily ended up in the CM stash and which will have been taken far better care of (in fact, I have it on good authority from various reliable sources that this is the case). It is not beyond the realms of possibility that the Domino remaster was from a reference copy.


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 05 Dec 18 - 09:15 PM

My only interest in all this is as a music addict,
who wants to hear this lost music hoard presented affordably in as best quality audio as possible.

So from my relatively objective and rational perspective;
it seems to me CM would have more to gain by co-operating
and sharing resources / costs / profits, etc, with the likes of Domino.
Negotiating and engaging in collaborative re-issue programs making best use of each other's areas of expertise..
Rather than setting lawyers loose on them, and withdrawing a high quality product from sale...???

Since when has there ever been any sense in denying potential customers
the opportunity to buy good products that they want to pay for,
for so many decades...?????

Hands up any potential customers who have gone deaf from old age
or dropped dead whilst waiting for good sense to prevail...


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: GUEST,Cj
Date: 06 Dec 18 - 03:08 AM

Absolutely pfr.

Remember Honest Jon’s put out that licensed compilation of Bulmer acquired stuff, so it Is possible.

Who knows how Bulmer the Younger will proceed. Their Amazon shop sells tat and 2nd Hand CDs. Maybe they’re using this business model to fund a digital release system for their hoardes of Leader etc material.

I doubt it, but, well, we’ll see. I hope I am proved wrong.


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: GUEST,giovanni
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 01:13 AM

I just wonder whether Domino tried to buy the rights from Celtic - if so how hard did they try?

And when they found their "best offer" wasn't enough, did they think it was OK to just go ahead anyway, hoping nobody would make a fuss.

Which makes me think that - long before Domino - if it was so important to get these albums released, why didn't someone offer Celtic enough money to obtain the rights - even if they knew it wasn't commercially viable, as presumably Celtic believed.

That all tells me that, in theory, lots of people were in high dudgeon about the situation, but nobody tried to get enough people to put their hands in their pocket to correct it. Instead they just railed over Celtic refusing to invest in a project that would be sure to lose money.

All very folkie........


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 05:35 AM

Tony Rees wrote:-
"You should consult the Musical Traditions discography here"

That was my first port of call, Tony. Actually, I did quite a bit of work with Rod when he was compiling it.


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: Howard Jones
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 08:12 AM

Giovanni, I suggest you take a look at some of the other threads on this topic, which start with this one:

https://mudcat.org//thread.cfm?ThreadID=35698

Sorry I don't seem to be able to make blue clicky for this. If you can't find it, look for "The 'Celtic Music/Dave Bulmer' saga"

Bulmer appears to have been a very stubborn man, whose response to criticism was to turn his back rather than engage. One of the many tragedies of this sorry matter is that he could have been a hero - he holds the rights to many important recordings and under different circumstances more of these could have seen the light of day, and both Bulmer and the artists could have made some money. I very much hope his son will see the value, both artistic and monetary, in the catalogue and will be more flexible and, dare I say, business-like, in dealing with it.


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: Tony Rees
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 01:34 PM

Hi Vic Smith,

I hope my "you should consult..." did not come across as an admonition. It was meant as a pointer/guide in case you had not seen it... Anyway it appears that the received wisdom out there is that this is the most complete list available, unless anyone knows otherwise.

My own listing of releases on the Celtic Music label, compiled on wikipedia, is possibly less thorough and still has a few holes, which I am tending to believe represent items never released, but maybe additional information may turn up. Best - Tony


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: GUEST,Cj
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 06:32 PM

Giovanni,

Honest Jon's licensed a (short) album's worth of tracks from him for their compilation 'Never the Same'. By all accounts I have heard, Bulmer was both extremely tricky to deal with and prohibitively expensive to license from.


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: GUEST,giovanni
Date: 08 Dec 18 - 11:59 AM

"tricky to deal with and prohibitively expensive to license from"

- sounds like a lot of business people I've had to deal with in my time.

The point I tried to make is that everything has its price. Was the price to high - or was it just that the offer was too low? How much of the commitment of the wishful purchaser was vocal rather than monetary?

I certainly wouldn't ever let a loud rant from a bunch of folkies with no money tell me how to do business.

best
g


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 08 Dec 18 - 01:00 PM

As one of the younger mudcatters - I'm only just turning 60...!!!???
it seems to me that where the old guard have failed to get on and work out a sensible solution with CM;
maybe now the time is right for a new generation to try to achieve an equitable resolution.

Past arguements, grudges, bitterness, insults, etc, have only exacerbated problems,
and left this hoard of folk music heritage rotting away into oblivion.....


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: Tony Rees
Date: 08 Dec 18 - 01:33 PM

Honest Jon's Trailer compilation (released a mere 13 years ago) details here: https://www.amazon.com/Never-Same-Various-Artists/dp/B000BNWNW4

- Tony


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 08 Dec 18 - 08:27 PM

If I win a couple of million on the lottery I'll make Bulmer Jr an offer he can't refuse. Mind you, there'll have to be enough left for my villa in Tuscany and an unlimited lifetime supply of prosecco...


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: GUEST,Cj
Date: 17 Feb 19 - 12:45 PM

With music so devalued at the moment, the only real value with the Bulmer haul is cultural, but the Bulmer family seem to see it as a goldmine. In a way, Bright Phoebus may be confusing things, its notoriety falsely inflating, perhaps, the view of the potential value of the rest of it.


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: Howard Jones
Date: 18 Feb 19 - 05:38 AM

It's only a goldmine if it's made available for sale. There are certainly albums in the catalogue which would surely sell very well, Bright Phoebus among them. The problem up to now is that Bulmer wouldn't release them. If you were able to track him down (no easy thing) you might be able to purchase a one-off burned copy on CD-R but that is not the same thing.

There are two issues with Bulmer's stewardship of this catalogue. One is cultural - the fact that a large number of important recordings have for practical purposes been made unavailable to the majority of people who might be interested in them.

The other is the claim that as a result of his refusal to publish the original artists may have lost royalties, which in some cases (Nic Jones among them) might have made a significant difference to them. That will depend on the terms of the contracts they originally signed with Bill Leader, and without sight of these it is not clear whether they would be entitled to anything.

Either way, this has been a sorry affair which has damaged folk music and the late Mr Bulmer's own reputation. I still hope that his beneficiaries, who now hold the rights to the catalogue, will take a more enlightened view. They have been keen to protect their rights, which is fair enough, but what are they now going to do with them?


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: GUEST,Guest - CJB
Date: 18 Feb 19 - 03:45 PM

"I very much hope his son will see the value, both artistic and monetary, in the catalogue and will be more flexible and, dare I say, business-like, in dealing with it."

Not much point if the masters have deteriorated to non-playing mush.

Second best is a dub from a pristine vinyl copy.

Publish and be damned. Let's get the stuff out there in the public domain where it belongs.


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: Howard Jones
Date: 18 Feb 19 - 07:39 PM

Publish and be sued, more like.

CM's press release which Vic Smith quoted a while back suggests they are considering some releases, which can only be a good thing.


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Subject: RE: Bright Phoebus reissued
From: Cool Hand Uke
Date: 10 Feb 21 - 03:16 PM

If there's anyone out there interested in an original vinyl copy of Bright Phoebus on Trailer, St Luke's Hospice, Sheffield currently has one for sale on their eBay site. I'd love it, but it's a bit out of my price range!


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