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Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing

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Dave the Gnome 18 May 20 - 04:23 AM
Joe G 18 May 20 - 04:37 AM
Steve Gardham 18 May 20 - 05:07 AM
Dave the Gnome 18 May 20 - 05:16 AM
The Sandman 18 May 20 - 05:47 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 20 - 06:05 AM
The Sandman 18 May 20 - 06:12 AM
The Sandman 18 May 20 - 06:16 AM
Dave Hanson 18 May 20 - 06:29 AM
GUEST,Observer 18 May 20 - 06:37 AM
gillymor 18 May 20 - 06:43 AM
gillymor 18 May 20 - 06:52 AM
Steve Shaw 18 May 20 - 07:06 AM
GUEST,Derrick 18 May 20 - 07:10 AM
Steve Shaw 18 May 20 - 07:10 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 20 - 07:23 AM
The Sandman 18 May 20 - 07:30 AM
The Sandman 18 May 20 - 07:35 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 20 - 08:12 AM
Dave the Gnome 18 May 20 - 08:12 AM
gillymor 18 May 20 - 08:16 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 20 - 08:19 AM
Dave the Gnome 18 May 20 - 09:05 AM
GUEST,Surrey fiddler 18 May 20 - 09:05 AM
Vic Smith 18 May 20 - 09:29 AM
Phillip 18 May 20 - 09:43 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 20 - 10:10 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 20 - 10:15 AM
GUEST 18 May 20 - 10:22 AM
Steve Shaw 18 May 20 - 10:29 AM
GUEST,Starship 18 May 20 - 10:48 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 20 - 10:52 AM
GUEST 18 May 20 - 11:38 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 20 - 12:04 PM
Jim Carroll 18 May 20 - 12:12 PM
Jim Carroll 18 May 20 - 12:14 PM
DonMeixner 18 May 20 - 12:51 PM
Phillip 18 May 20 - 01:01 PM
RTim 18 May 20 - 01:17 PM
The Sandman 18 May 20 - 03:28 PM
The Sandman 18 May 20 - 03:50 PM
The Sandman 18 May 20 - 03:52 PM
Jack Campin 18 May 20 - 03:57 PM
GUEST 19 May 20 - 02:10 AM
Dave Hanson 19 May 20 - 02:15 AM
Phillip 19 May 20 - 02:33 AM
Jim Carroll 19 May 20 - 03:14 AM
Phillip 19 May 20 - 03:21 AM
The Sandman 19 May 20 - 04:08 AM
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Jim Carroll 19 May 20 - 05:26 AM
The Sandman 19 May 20 - 05:29 AM
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Vic Smith 19 May 20 - 06:28 AM
GUEST,Brian Grayson 19 May 20 - 10:13 AM
The Sandman 19 May 20 - 10:29 AM
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Brian Peters 19 May 20 - 10:59 AM
The Sandman 19 May 20 - 11:27 AM
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The Sandman 19 May 20 - 02:44 PM
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Dave Sutherland 19 May 20 - 02:59 PM
GUEST,Starship 19 May 20 - 03:12 PM
The Sandman 19 May 20 - 04:10 PM
GUEST,Starship 19 May 20 - 05:01 PM
Vic Smith 19 May 20 - 05:10 PM
GUEST,Starship 19 May 20 - 06:01 PM
GUEST,Starship 19 May 20 - 06:18 PM
GUEST,Big Al Whittle 20 May 20 - 01:56 AM
The Sandman 20 May 20 - 02:20 AM
Vic Smith 20 May 20 - 05:57 AM
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Steve Gardham 20 May 20 - 06:40 AM
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Brian Peters 20 May 20 - 07:52 AM
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The Sandman 20 May 20 - 12:08 PM
Dave the Gnome 20 May 20 - 12:16 PM
Jim Carroll 20 May 20 - 12:27 PM
The Sandman 20 May 20 - 12:51 PM
Steve Gardham 20 May 20 - 02:27 PM
GUEST 20 May 20 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,big al whittle 20 May 20 - 03:04 PM
GUEST,kenny 20 May 20 - 03:41 PM
The Sandman 20 May 20 - 04:05 PM
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GUEST 20 May 20 - 04:26 PM
The Sandman 21 May 20 - 04:41 AM
Jim Carroll 21 May 20 - 08:40 AM
The Sandman 21 May 20 - 09:44 AM
GUEST,Starship 21 May 20 - 11:20 AM
GUEST,big al whittle 21 May 20 - 07:03 PM
Steve Shaw 21 May 20 - 07:43 PM
The Sandman 22 May 20 - 01:11 AM
The Sandman 22 May 20 - 01:14 AM
RTim 22 May 20 - 11:04 AM
The Sandman 23 May 20 - 03:20 AM
Jim Carroll 23 May 20 - 04:07 AM
Phillip 23 May 20 - 05:04 AM
The Sandman 23 May 20 - 05:43 AM
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Subject: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 May 20 - 04:23 AM

It has been mentioned on another thread that a critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing would be of great benefit. Not his politics. Not his name. Not his other works. His singing. I would personally expand that to his performance and song writing as, to me, that is as much a part of the enjoyment as his voice.

I think he has a good voice and no one can dispute his song writing abilities. I was not lucky enough to see him live.

Over to you and please feel free to link any performances that you find online to illustrate your points.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Joe G
Date: 18 May 20 - 04:37 AM

Who? ;-)


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 May 20 - 05:07 AM

AS far as I can remember he let the song tell the story and didn't indulge in any dramatic effects or affectations other than what his life as an actor dictated. There was something of a nasal twang but once you get into the song that becomes irrelevant. When accompanied he never allowed the accompaniment to dominate the song which some of our younger singers would do well to take note of. He was never my favourite singer but I am still in awe of what he accomplished.

Song writing: I have known and know many songwriters. Some have come close but I know of none that have surpassed his material. When I think about it I have unconsciously followed many of his methods.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 May 20 - 05:16 AM

Maybe the exception that proves the rule but I find the accompaniment in this version of Dirty Old Town a bit distracting. Probably just me though.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 20 - 05:47 AM

yes,it is you, distracting ha ha, good try again gnome, i know what you are up to
the accompaniment and the singing of this song is one of the best versions i have heard , this is not a narrative story ballad such as raggle taggle gypsies or willy of the winesbury ,but his own ocomposotion . his singing her in my opinion is one of his best


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 20 - 06:05 AM

Ewan's singing was an acquired taste - he had the same problems every singer had, especially in the early days - he once told me his early recordings made him cringe so much he couldn't bear to listen to them
He had problems with natural vibrato which he worked at and encouraged others to do the same - he devised exercises to tackle such problems
One time in London Singers Workshop, we agreed to listen critically to recordings of singers we know wouldn't mind our doing so
Pat brought in a recording of Ewan at his 4-square worst (a syllable per note) for discussion
That was, in my opinion, a perennial fault which varied throughout his life but never quite went away

Having said that, the litmus test for any singer is what you remember after each song - if it's the singing, then it has fallen short - if it's the song then the singer has succeeded
I now have all but one/two (?) of Ewan's albums - there isn't one I can't listen to over and over again ('Two-Way Trip marginal) - the 'Blood and Roses' set remain top of the list
I don't know how I will feel about the 78s as I haven't managed to get them yet
This is because I want to listen to the songs and not the singer
That's how I judge any singer
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 20 - 06:12 AM

but it is the singer who can bring the song to life an example is thishttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NJaXI0A28I and ewans versionhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EW28RL_-ux0


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 20 - 06:16 AM

jeasnnie roberston does a more narrative style version than ewan, peggys accopniment is ok, but there is none of the passion in the MacCOLL VERSION COMPARED TO jEANNIES


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 18 May 20 - 06:29 AM

Jeannie's version is sublime, never heard it better, incidently I have always been a fan of Ewan, I saw him and Peggy at the Singing Jenny Folk Club in Huddersfield seems like a lifetime ago.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 18 May 20 - 06:37 AM

Ewan MacColl wrote some absolutely outstanding songs and nobody can deny that they had impact, have stood the test of time and no doubt will continue to do so far into the future. While saying that I must admit that I do not enjoy his singing, others do his material much, much better. That in no way detracts from his dedication and contribution to folk music and the enormous debt and respect that he is due.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: gillymor
Date: 18 May 20 - 06:43 AM

I prefer hearing his wonderful songs sung by someone other than the man himself. He had a quaver in his voice that sounds affected. I could be wrong, maybe it's something he acquired naturally, buy either way it's off-putting to me. I still admire the man's musical output though.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: gillymor
Date: 18 May 20 - 06:52 AM

btw, I like the accompaniment to the Dirty Old Town version that DtG linked above but it sounds like it's in the wrong song.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 18 May 20 - 07:06 AM

There's a richness and mellowness in his voice that I like. He was capable of turning on a harsher edge if the words needed it. His diction was excellent and, for me, overrode a slight sensation of affectation. Sort of agreeing with Jim, I hear that waver that sometimes sounds inauthentic. It's interesting to hear that it was something he worked on. When I want to do the audiological version of visualising his voice (is there such a word as audiolising?), as I do now, I think of songs like My Old Man and Joy Of Living.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 18 May 20 - 07:10 AM

I agree with DtG and gillymor not the best accompaniment to that song I've heard, the vocals were good,in that particular case the song would have been improved by dropping the instruments.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 18 May 20 - 07:10 AM

By the way, what biases me slightly in his favour is that all my mum's side are Salfordian, and he has that unmistakable Salfordian twang in his accent that takes me back... Forcing yourself to be objective-only in music robs it of its soul...


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 20 - 07:23 AM

Seems a bit pointless discussing personal likes and dislikes - we all like what we like
In the end it's whether the song works - it usually does with Ewan for me
I've also found Peggy's accompaniments fine because they do what they need to do - accompany
The early accompaniments are different - Alf Edwards was very baisc, Steve Benbow was not to my taste
I oved the jazz accompaniments on Dirty Old Town because I love Jazz - Dirty ld Town takes accompaniment and lone voice singing - I'd hate jazz ro b used widely to sing British or Irish folk songs widely - a matter of taste - Ewan did both as the mood took him
I have no problem with accompaniments that accompany - far too many get in the way
Peggy had a whole philosophy around instrumentation - we have a lecture she gave on it
I was never a great fan of accompanied American singing until talking to her helped get my head around it - now some of the older American singers rate among my favourites
Contrary to Gilly - I don't know of anybody who sang Ewan's songs better than he did
My mate Bob Blair gathered the whole repertoire of Ewan's recorded own songs together onto seven CDs chronologically - I'm adding those not released commercially (feel free to ask for them)
We're really not going to change each other's personal tastes - who would want to ?
I'll be happt if I can get rind of theis insulting "worshiping Ewan" crap
Ewan's main importance for me was the work he did wit others in develping a method where singers might lean to use their voices fully and apply them to singing folk songs


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 20 - 07:30 AM

What harm in comparing ewan and jeannies version of a song, is that not discussing his singing. his singing of dirty old town sounds more authentic than his accent on the raggle gypsy song.jeannis version is the best that i have ever heard, for bob davenport to apparantly claim she cannot sing is ridiculous.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 20 - 07:35 AM

What harm in comparing ewan and jeannies version of a song, is that not discussing his singing. his singing of dirty old town sounds more authentic than his accent on the raggle gypsy song.
jeannis version is the best that i have ever heard, for bob davenport to apparantly claim she cannot sing is ridiculous.ewans importance to me was as a songwriter and an outstanding presenter of an evening, yes i did see him live , infact i was doing a support for them they were polished sophisticated performers


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 20 - 08:12 AM

"What harm in comparing ewan and jeannies version of a song, "
I've always had a problem with this, especially after working with source-singers
They are not from our 'folkie' world - in fat they are our benefactors and we are the recipients of their generosity
I would never expect the same from them as I would from a revival singer so I would be hesitant to compare the two
I loved Jeannies's singing but I have problems with it
Shortly after she was discovered, researchers began praising her for she slow, dignified delivery - she began to slow her songs down further to live up to the image - too slow, in my opinion
Later in life she developed asthmatic problems which created a gappiness in her singing that had not been there in the early days - (I find Jeannie's 'Gypsy Laddy an example of that)
Fot me, the worst done to Jeannie's singing was when Robin Hall persuaded her to allow him to accompany her - the Collector EP just didn't work for me - a case of two worlds colliding
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 May 20 - 08:12 AM

I have no idea what you think I am up to, Dick, but you are most likely wrong. Jim wanted a constructive discussion of Ewan's singing and that is what I am trying to achieve. Like Gillymor and others, that accompaniment just doesn't do anything for me.

I agree with the sentiment that Ewan does his own stuff best as he knows what he is trying to achieve. I think the same is true of Bob Dylan BTW. That's isn't to say that there are not some interpretations of songs by both artists that I prefer but that is down to personal taste.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: gillymor
Date: 18 May 20 - 08:16 AM

Jim, I'm here to express my opinion not to change any one else's, you may think it's pointless but you don't seem to have any problem expressing yours.
Rather than being pointless the opinions shared on this thread have almost inspired me to give McColl's singing another chance because, as some have noted, there are some nice aspects to his voice but I'm not sure I can get past that mechanical-sounding vibrato. It's a vocal technique that some American folk singers employed back in the 50's and 60's and it's sounds unnatural and is an immediate turnoff for me.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 20 - 08:19 AM

"Jim wanted a constructive discussion of Ewan's singing and that is what I am trying to achieve."
I think Dick suspects you of trying to divert me from another thread - I confess the thought crossed my mind - you've done it before
I don't mind discussing Ewan or his singing anytime - there ias much more I would like to discuss, but this will do for a while
That doesn't mind I'm going to stop posting to the Doran 'love-in' though
There's plenty more to talk about there
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 May 20 - 09:05 AM

Jim, you said "I woud love to see a critical discussion of Ewan's singing" and for that reason only I started this thread. How can it be trying to divert you when it is exactly what you requested? There is no reason at all that you cannot contribute to both threads but as you yourself have said there can be no comparison I don't understand why you would want to discuss McColl on the Doran thread of vice versa.

Incidentally, you used to disapprove of people referring to your favourite singer by their surname. Is it ok to do so now?


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: GUEST,Surrey fiddler
Date: 18 May 20 - 09:05 AM

I was privileged to see Ewan & Peggy at the Singers Club many times and was often spellbound when he sang, particularly when he performed ballads. For me few singers could hold one so entranced during their performance; Bill Caddock was another one when he sang his own compositions. Likewise with Ewan he sang self-penned songs the way he wanted to and whether someone else sang them differently or 'better' is academic.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Vic Smith
Date: 18 May 20 - 09:29 AM

"What harm in comparing ewan and jeannies version of a song, "
Jim -
I've always had a problem with this, especially after working with source-singers
They are not from our 'folkie' world - in fat they are our benefactors and we are the recipients of their generosity
I would never expect the same from them as I would from a revival singer so I would be hesitant to compare the two

Totally agree. It is like comparing an apple with an orange. They are both enjoyable fruit but they come from totally different trees

I loved Jeannies's singing but I have problems with it
Shortly after she was discovered, researchers began praising her for she slow, dignified delivery - she began to slow her songs down further to live up to the image - too slow, in my opinion
Later in life she developed asthmatic problems which created a gappiness in her singing that had not been there in the early days - (I find Jeannie's 'Gypsy Laddy an example of that)

Jeanie is one of my all time favourites and I relish the hours that I spent in her company. There is very little criticism of her that I can go along with apart from the fact that in her later years she sang her ballads too slowly. Her early recordings made by Alan Lomax are superb.

Fot me, the worst done to Jeannie's singing was when Robin Hall persuaded her to allow him to accompany her - the Collector EP just didn't work for me - a case of two worlds colliding
Now, Isabel Sutherland told me decades ago that Robin was called on to dub his accompaniment on to Jeanie's unaccompanied recordings on those two EPs. She said that Robin told her that he was being asked to do an impossible task. Why was it done? Well, an accompanied song can then be labelled Trad. arr by.... which has implications for royalties.
Who did this? Well, it was the same person who booked a studio for Isabel to record an album. When she got to the studio, she was suprised to see another prominent figure from the early revival sitting there with his guitar, Steve Benbow.
"Hello, Steve. What are you doing here?"
"I'm here to accompany your songs. I thought it had all been arranged."
"No, you're bloody not" said one of Edinbugh's finest as she stomped out of the studio.
Who was behind all this? I don't think that it would be that difficult to guess.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Phillip
Date: 18 May 20 - 09:43 AM

For me IN MY OPINION WHICH NO ONE ELSE NEEDS GIVE A STUFF ABOUT the best version of Dirty Old Town is on The Singing Streets album. I can’t get my iPad to cut and paste the url but if you search for “Ewan MacColl Dirty Old Town” it’s the one which is only 1:06 minutes in length. Unaccompanied. If I remember right, on the lead in to it on the album “they” (probably Ewan) talk about the love-struck youth walking back through the streets on his own after seeing his girl. The song was written to cover a scene change in the play Landscape with Chimneys by Theatre Workshop and this short, whistful version is beautiful.

I can’t sing to save my life, which ironic as I spent twenty years in the NHS working as a voice therapist. So, I have listened carefully to more voices than most people are ever likely to. My liking for Ewan’s voice is purely a matter of the timbre being good for me. I also prefer the sound of a Selmer Centered Tone clarinet to any other I have heard, but it doesn’t mean it’s better than all the rest. But what I can say objectively is that I know of no other singer in this genre who had more control of his voice. It was superbly flexible - from Eppie Morie to his supporting role in The Bartley Explosion to Sweet Thames Flow Softly and that strained high pitch in The Flying Cloud. His back ground in theatre and the disciplined voice work of actors added to a naturally supple vocal instrument make, for me, an outstanding singer.

Because of those years as an actor he knew how to interpret songs to bring them to life. The Dockyard Gate on one of the two Critics Group sea song albums for example. (Despite what it says on the album, I think it’s Ewan. If not it’s a great impersonation, but I am prepared to eat any one of my five hats if someone can disprove my thinking.) Or The Molecatcher on Solo Flight. Th’Owd Chap Come O’er t’ Bank. He brings the humour out of them as only an actor could.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 20 - 10:10 AM

I'm delighted to get that information - it's bugged me all my life
I couldn't agree more about those "electric" early recordings - real back-of-the-neck bristling singing
We tended to forget that
(a) These singers were used to singing in a family environment among people they were close to and
(b) many of them were past their prime and remembering songs they hadn't sung for decades
We came along with tape-recorders, quite often paused for time and asked them to perform miracles on the spot - they usually did
Some were singing songs they didn't particularly like to oblige
We found it was the second - third....visits that really delivered the gems
It's when they became close friends that you were invited into their lives and were told things that would never crop up in casual conversations
Sometimes that could cause problems - we have had conversations followed by "Don't repeat that" on a number of times
We have a song we recorded from Travellers we have never publicly used because, at the time, the couple in the song were still on the road

Source singers gave us our life-blood - sometimes their generosity wasn't reciprocated - in my opinion, few were fully appreciated
I don't think Ewan was a great collector for several reasons but I don't think I've ever met anyone who appreciated their importance as much as he did
The Scots Traveller songs and stories Ewan and Peg gathered were major contributions to my appreciation of the tradition
The Musical Traditions DVD, 'Songs of the Travelling People' should be an essential for all folkies (as should the Double 'Muckle Sangs' School of Scottish Studies albums
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 20 - 10:15 AM

That was to Vic - y the way - sorry to cut in Phillip - I go along with you say too
By the way - Ewan used Stanislavski's technique to assist in analysing songs - basically it was drawing on your own experiences and emotions to make the songs your own (as Stanislavski's actors were expected to do)
I was present several times to see the 'method' woork miracles with some singers
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: GUEST
Date: 18 May 20 - 10:22 AM

I appreciate McColl's work on many levels, including his singing. However sometimes his attempted Scottish accents are a bit unconvincing. When he sings a song from Aberdeenshire, for example, he can sound as if he's merely aping what he thinks a genuine bothy ballad sounds like, rather than finding his own voice in the act of singing it. Just my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 18 May 20 - 10:29 AM

Then I think you're listening wrong. Just my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 18 May 20 - 10:48 AM

This is the link to the MacColl version of DOT Phillip spoke of a few posts back.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x34GQop3VaY


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 20 - 10:52 AM

Ewan didn't "attempt" a Scottish accent
He adapted what he heard at home to his singing - he probably had a Salford Scots accent as a child as many Irish kinds have say Liverpool Irish accents
What he did was use the actors technique of neutralising accents to reach a wider audience
If you have any doubts at some English audiences have I suggest you look up Bozo's comments of not understanding Dick Gaughan on the Doran thread
It can be a problem but, in my experience, the English are worse that the French are supposed to be for inflexibility when it comes to accents
I once saw Matt MacGinn play Macbeth's gatekeeper at the Edinburgh Festival - bloody hard work
Ewan was desperate to have the ballads accepted so he compromised - and gave us 175 Child Ballads with numerous versions
It worked for me
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: GUEST
Date: 18 May 20 - 11:38 AM

Thanks for your reply. I just think that the best traditional singers assimilate material to their own style. For example, the Stewarts of Blair had many Irish songs in their repertoires but would have adapted them to their own Perthshire Traveller style rather than putting on Irish accents.

I believe that McColl's family roots were in Auchterarder. The Perthshire speech is obviously very different from Aberdeenshire, especially when filtered through Salford.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 20 - 12:04 PM

"I just think that the best traditional singers assimilate material to their own style"
Ewan always made the point that he wasn't a traditional singer and his songs were't folk songs
I know he picked up songs from both parents (I was told by someone who knew both in the early days) but I don't think there were many that he didn't fill in and adapt from books
Who doesn't do that ?
I'm from Liverpool and had (and sometimes have) a broadish Scouse accent what do I do - I wouldn't sing most in a Liverpool accent - ballads would probably sound ridiculous   
I sing quite a few Irish songs but would rather have my fingernails torn out than try an 'Oirish accent'
What do I do ?
Many singers I knew way back were teachers who needed to loose most of their own accents to hold down their jobs - do they sing everything in Standard English ?
We all adapt to the song to some degree ot another
With Ewan, this wasn't a reviival thing - it was happening far earlier


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 20 - 12:12 PM

Sorry prem. ejac. again - the 'find' button is too near the 'send one - what I triied to end with is this;

MacColl had been out busking for pennies by the Manchester theatres and cinemas. The songs he sang were unusual, Scots songs, Gaelic songs he had learnt from his mother, border ballads and folk-songs. One night while queueing up for the three-and- sixpennies, Kenneth Adam had heard him singing outside the Manchester Paramount. He was suitably impressed. Not only did he give MacColl a handout; he also advised him to go and audi¬tion for Archie Harding at the BBC studios in Manchester’s Piccadilly. This MacColl duly did. May Day in England was being cast at the time, and though it had no part for a singer, it certainly had for a good, tough, angry Voice of the People. Ewan MacColl became the Voice, a role which he has continued to fill on stage, on the air, and on a couple of hundred L.P. discs ever since.
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 20 - 12:14 PM

Whoops again - from 'Prospero and Arial' by Douglas Bryson - an account' of Ewan's 'discovery' by a BBC man in 1934
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: DonMeixner
Date: 18 May 20 - 12:51 PM

My only experience with Ewan MacColl out side of others doing his songs was a live concert he and Peggy Seeger recorded. It was shortly before his death and I heard it on National Public Radio. I recall being impressed with his vocal power. I additionally like the apparent lack of affectation in his and Peggy's voices. I don't know if he assumed accents or not.    If what I heard that day was typical of the performer I was quite pleased. This was the first time I heard The Big Hewer, The Manchester Rambler(?), and Tim Evans.


All of the rest of the show was familiar material but from the voices of others. MacColl and Seeger's being sources gave me a different feel for the songs. Not better or worse but different. What was always apparent was the quality in the writing. Also impressing was that they just sang the songs with minimal instrumentation. MacColl and Seeger where lyricists after all and I was listening to the words of the songs. There is was the power in the perforance


Regards Dirty Old Town, I have heard many versions, some just now on YouTube. Most are adequate, some are awful in the attempt by the performer to be current, one or two are really good. My favorite was done by Luke Kelly and The Dublineers.

Don Meixner


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Phillip
Date: 18 May 20 - 01:01 PM

Many singers adopt accents. The great Ellie Greenwich spoke and sang in different American accents. So did the Shanghai-Las. And that great Australian singer Bert Lloyd occasionally tried an English accent, or indeed accents. His broad Lancashire accent is particularly unusual. And of course people absolutely pan the old ocker for doing things like that. Don’t they?


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: RTim
Date: 18 May 20 - 01:17 PM

When I started singing folk song, Ewan's voice certainly impressed and influenced me. I have always admired the pace and clarity of his singing. As to Accent...I do not like it when singers put on a false accent,.ie. one that was not their own.
I never had a problem with Ewan...but if I were going to sing one of his songs that had the Scot's Twang...I would Anglicize it......

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 20 - 03:28 PM

I do not like the sound of his voice when he is singing trad songs, neither do i think he was outstanding when it comes to interpreting story ballds.
I was once travelling back from a festival with a well known revival singer[who has since died], i asked him about Ewan[ not specifically about his singing] HE STARTED TO TALK UNPROMPTED ABOUT HIS SINGING. he said that the first time he sawEwan he sang tifties annie and it was fantastic, so he went back to see him two weeks later, but was hugely disappointed because he sang the song in exactly the same way. i have a witness to this conversation who is still alive.
i think waht he was getting at was that Ewans approach was a crebral one that he was not a natural singer and that singers should be able to interpret differently every time. i am sorry if this upsets you jim, it does not make Ewan a bad singer, his presentation was excellent and he was very professionalbut there are other singers i would prefer to listen to maybe it is their voice, martyn wyndham read springs to mind


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 20 - 03:50 PM

I've always had a problem with this, especially after working with source-singers
They are not from our 'folkie' world - in fat they are our benefactors and we are the recipients of their generosity
I would never expect the same from them as I would from a revival singer so I would be hesitant to compare the two
Totally agree. It is like comparing an apple with an orange. They are both enjoyable fruit but they come from totally different trees quote vic smith
not so, they are two people singing a tradtional song, both singing in fact the same song. where is the logic in vics statement is he going to tell me that you cannot compare the wilson family with the copper family because one are source singers and the other are revival singers


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 20 - 03:52 PM

Are talking about singning?or how the people learned the songs, so we cannot compare because they learned the songs differently, or are we judging singing


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan's singing
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 May 20 - 03:57 PM

Probably most people these days would far prefer Jeannie Robertson's version of any song to MacColl's. History has moved on; the rationale for most of MacColl's work was moving folk material onto the (Brechtian) theatrical stage, or into projects like the Radio Ballads that derived from (Brechtian) theatre. So if his singing sounds stagey, that wasn't a problem at the time - music for the stage OUGHT to sound stagey. Problem is, that whole art form - theatre showcasing folksong as an expression of working-class creativity - is dead; the community theatre things I took part in 20 years ago were its last gasp, already degenerating into shows that depended on special effects to hold an audience. Present-day performers have no use or audience for its conventions and techniques. Whereas going back beyond MacColl to people like Robertson, who had quite different reasons for performing and adopted different ways of getting the songs across (usually aimed across a kitchen rather than at the back rows of an auditorium) is more likely to be useful to a present-day performer. MacColl is simply a piece of history rather than a living force, and no more relevant than a music-hall star of a century ago.

I have a lot of MacColl recordings and hardly ever listen to them. They make me feel like Queen Victoria being lectured at by Gladstone.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST
Date: 19 May 20 - 02:10 AM

I think Peggy Seeger is a far more talented singer.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 19 May 20 - 02:15 AM

Since when did Bert Lloyd become an Australian Phillip ?

He's English for fucks sake.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Phillip
Date: 19 May 20 - 02:33 AM

Exactly.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 20 - 03:14 AM

"Probably most people these days would far prefer Jeannie Robertson's version of any song to MacColl's"
A presumption hardly backed up by fact Jack - not sure who "most people" refers too anyway
The decline in the popularity of folk song gives us no picture of who is listening to who or what anyway
I did a quick search to find what MacColl albums I didn't have recently and was surprised to find how many were still available and how many had been re-issued - staggering
I don't know of another folk artist who has remained as popular and still remembered - and still available as he is

Here in Ireland, where the tradition is experiencing a renaissance, MacColl is highly respected by oldies and youngsters alike - his songs are sung by Traveller kids busking on the street and around the pubs and in sessions - most interesting, you can hold a conversation about him without having to clamber up the 'name change, war-record, accent, 80 year old politics' mountain of garbage - people want to discuss his singing and politically, they regard him as a humanist and righter of wrongs rather than 'a Commie'
I have always found it far easier to discuss Ewan with youngsters than with 'people of a certain age' - they don't carry the baggage we do - hopefully, it the irrelevant nonsense will disappear when we do and people will be allowed to discuss artists for their artistry

As far as this song is concerned - Dick's example was recorded in 1957 on one of the albums Ewan would have cringed to hear played again
I had just left school at the time, some here wouldn't have been born - hardly a fair example of a singer who was still finding his feet in a music scene he and Bert and all the other targets abuse were beginning to create that was to give so many of us so much enjoyment, and continued to enthrall audiences for another three decades   
If I remember right, Ewan sang four versions of this ballad - he often did this in his explorations of what he described as "The high-watermark of our singing tradition"
We have them all here somewhere, but this is the one I find MOST TYPICAL
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Phillip
Date: 19 May 20 - 03:21 AM

“Probably most people these days would far prefer Jeannie Robertson’s version of any song to MacColl’s.”

If that were the case it would surely be reflected in record companies’ attempts to make money out of their recordings? Looking at what is listed on Amazon, probably these days the world’s greatest retailer and so as good a reflection of what people want to buy as any other source of data I could think of beyond a massive opinion poll, I could find twenty reissues on CD by Ewan MacColl since 2000, and only one by Jeannie Robertson, and I stopped halfway through the MacColl listings, though that was the total on all the Robertson pages. And I excluded compilations for both and the radio ballads for MacColl as that would have just increased the disparity.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 04:08 AM

i think he sang his own compositions better than he did tradtional material, he was a good singer a very professional and well prepared performer, but as a song writer he was very gifted , we owe him a lot. i thnk jacks comment about his style of singing being suited to the theatre was a fair comment


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 04:18 AM

and despite my criticisms of him, i think if he was leading the folk revival now it would have a more positive direction than the commercial direction where we hear about the latest flavour of the month, an example a recent thread where so and so is the new hope for folk music etc


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 04:44 AM

yes jim i thnk that is a better version, but i still prefer jeanies


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 20 - 05:26 AM

"yes jim i thnk that is a better version, but i still prefer jeanies"
No problem Di - we like what we like - the first thing I would do if I was researching out any traditional song would be to seek out a source singer's version
I put up the clip to illustrate the difference between a song sung over fifty years ago and one when the singer had matured and found his 'folk feet'
Hope nobody ever finds a recording of me singing 'Baa, baa black sheep' or even 'Schoolgirl Crush'
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 05:29 AM

yes i totally agree.or in my case singing woried man blues with an out of tune guitar in 1969


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 20 - 05:33 AM

'Schoolgirl Crush'
Should be 'Schoolboy Crush' - of course - it has been a long time !
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 May 20 - 06:28 AM

The difference in approach to all aspects of their singing between The Wilson Family and The Copper Family should be manifestly obvious to anyone who has spent decades at the folk music coalface. We could start with the fundemental difference in the way their songs came to them and the function they have served in their families since the 18th century then go on to the very many other differences. Which you prefer is entirely a different matter much more to do with a person's taste and their approach to the music.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Brian Grayson
Date: 19 May 20 - 10:13 AM

Q: How many folk singers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Hundreds - one to actually change the bulb, and the rest to go on and on forever about which type of old bulb they preferred.

Whatever happened to the actual song? Surely the power of the song needs to be the overwhelming factor in discussion of the song, rather than arguing which singer's presentation is 'the best' - the latter is a matter for individual taste. By and large, Ewan presented songs splendidly (except when he didn't), but he always (imho) put the song first. I once heard someone say of a famous Shakespearean actor "I'd listen to him reading the phone book", but I hardly think she meant it literally...


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 10:29 AM

it is about time this crap about source singers and revival singers not being comparable is forgotten.
we are taking about music and vocal quality, when judging singing in any other genre nobody is concerned with how the song was learned, but the quality.
its the same sort of crap as [peter kwennedy not collecting bob blake because he learned songs from books,
jesus christ trad singers learned songs from broadsides.
vics argument is an affectation of the uk folk revival. tradtional singers and musicians both learned aurally and from manuscript just the same as revival singers.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 May 20 - 10:53 AM

peter kwennedy not collecting bob blake because he learned songs from books
Kennedy (I presume you mean him) never met Bob Blake. You probably mean Mike Yates. It would make your ability to argue your case stronger if you were to check you facts before making your posts.

vics argument is an affectation of the uk folk revival. tradtional singers and musicians both learned aurally and from manuscript just the same as revival singers.
It is difficult to reply to a statement that shows complete misuse of a word. An affectation according to the Oxford Concise Dictionary is defined as "Behaviour, speech, or writing that is pretentious and designed to impress." You would need to clarify your statement before I can deal with it. As it stands, "an affectation of the uk folk revival" does not convey any meaning to me.
Not that I intend to get into a protracted argument with you over the distinction between the tradition and the revival. I have made my point at 19 May 20 - 06:28 AM and intend to leave it there.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 May 20 - 10:59 AM

Visiting Mudcat after a bit of an absence, I've found this thread interesting, particularly the comparison between MacColl's rendering of 'The Gypsie Laddie' in 1957 (sandman's link) and the performance 1966 (Jim's link). Although it's obviously the same singer, they are worlds apart. The big difference is obviously in the way the banjo accompaniment imposes a rhythm on the singer, and how much freer he sounds without it. The 1966 version is a really terrific piece of singing by any standard, full of all kinds of subtlety that I don't always get from MacColl's more declamatory, theatrical performances. I completely agree with Vic and Jim about 'apples and oranges', but EmC is channeling traditional style very well here.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 11:27 AM

it is an affectation of the uk folk revival because everywhere else there was no need for a folk revival,
in ireland for example singers and musicians are judged on their performance, not oh we must treat this singer by a different standard because they are a source singer, it is uk folk revival bullshit.
i judge singers on their singing abilty their abilty to put over a song regardless of their label or category, jeannie robertson was a source singer, isobel suitherland a revival singer so what, they were both fine singers
tom brown was a supposedly a source singer but imo only average in tradtional music everywhere else other than the precious uk folk revival, music and song is judged on abilty, it is a peculiarity of the uk folk revival, and particularly the english part because the songs had to be revived.
in jazz people are judged on ther abilty not how they learned their material. if someone is singing any song we listen to their voice which we may or may not like then we listen to how they perform the song.
to treat source singers differently is disrepectful, it is akin to apolgising for them because they are a source singer, jeanie had nothing to be ashamed of she was far better singer of tradtinal songs the same goes for phil tanner, ewan was good but not in their league


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 19 May 20 - 11:42 AM

I think what gets many of these discussions off-track goes back to what is being discussed. Fruit is a class of food. So poster A says s/he likes fruit. Poster B responds and talks about how much s/he likes bananas. Poster A says bananas are a berry. Poster C says, berries are fruit. Poster D says fruit gives him/her the runs. Poster A says, the discussion here is about fruit.

Lots of people are speaking well, but mostly about their pet fruit. And no one ever mentions the pomes and drupes because despite pomes and drupes belonging to the broader category of fruit, they are ignored by people who like bananas. It's a strange strange world we live in, huh?


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 11:47 AM

careful you might go bananas


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 11:51 AM

to treat sourece singers as if they are some species that need to be protected is not only disrespectful it is patronising, abit like the black and white minstrels and uncle tomism. lets send fred jiordan outand encourage him to wear his buskins what a cute little peasant then send him back home off you go fred and grow your runner beans their musicof the good source singers stands up without this patronising garbage


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 11:54 AM

on that subject i remember bob lewis turning up at broadstairs folk festival in a shepherds smock 1978?, he did not need to his singing was why he was booked


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 12:02 PM

by contrast the shepherds will taylor and will hutton and co let their music speak for them.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 May 20 - 12:04 PM

it is an affectation of the uk folk revival because everywhere else there was no need for a folk revival,
More arrant nonsense, I'm afraid.
So we can take it then, that there was no folk revival in America, in Canada, New Zealand, Australia; that the twentieth century Czech and Hungarian classical composers weren't collectors and promulgators of their traditions; that fascist Germany and communist eastern Europe did not take their traditions and bend them to suit their political purposes in a warped revival?


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 12:14 PM

typo joe hutton will atkinson


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Wm
Date: 19 May 20 - 12:27 PM

Aside from awkward accompaniments, I think many criticisms of Ewan's singing boil down to his frequent presentation of songs as historic documents or examples of a type—a worthwhile pursuit, but not one that best shows the personal connection between singer and song. But I'll happily forgive him his share of clunkers in exchange for Jock o the Side, Are Ye Sleepin Maggie, The Scranky Blank Farmer, The Bold Richard, The Baron of Brackley, and a few dozen more. He's a tremendous inspiration and I'm grateful for the wealth of his output.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 12:36 PM

vic, it is a fact that the uk folk had to be revived that is not arrant nonsense without a revival there is no need to have distinctions about revival singers and source singers because the word revival does not need to exist. n as i said in ireland people just make their judgements on the merit of the singer musician that is how it should be ,meanwhile people with your attitude patronise the source singer , it is not necessary for bob lewis to dress up as a shepherd or fred jordan to dress up as a farm labourer, the border shpherds produced fine music without that patronising cute peasant crap


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Modette
Date: 19 May 20 - 12:37 PM

I'm beginning to wonder whether this site should be renamed 'Old Men Yelling at Clouds'.

The Simpsons


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 20 - 12:44 PM

"I'm afraid."
Agree totally
Ireland underwent several cultural revivals - the song and music being part of each
The 1960s 'Folk Boom' was an offshoot of the revival inspired by first Alan Lomax then The BBC
This was followed by ups and downs, then The Willie Clancy School and later, The Irish Traditional music Archive revived the flagging fortunes of the previous revival
That gradually grew till the present explosion of interest based on te work of the previously mentioned two
Prior to this, our generation belived that we were the last of the traddies
Paddy Glackin's brother Kevin, put it in a nutshell when he described having to hide his fiddle under his coat for fear of being beaten up by
his schoolmates - now they would probably clamouring for his autograph
This time I think they have the solution of a future cracked
Glad I was around to see it happen
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 May 20 - 12:49 PM

i said in ireland people just make their judgements on the merit of the singer musician that is how it should be....without that patronising cute peasant crap
So all that 'Plastic Paddy' nonsense in Dublin, Cork and Limerick tourist pubs did not exist then?


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 12:50 PM

the uk had a folk revival, do you agree vic, that if there had been no folk revival there would be no need for the two terms revival singer and source singer?.
neither would there be the necessity for singers such as fred jordan and bob lewis to dress up as cute peasants and allow themselves to be patronised.
I do not see any singers or musicians dressing up in this puzzling way in ireland , its a bit reminscent of the white heather club


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 12:55 PM

for the record i think bob is a good singer regardless of what he wears or the category he has been put in


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST
Date: 19 May 20 - 12:58 PM

think you're all getting cabin fever- such a lot of aggression again- back to the subject before somebody mentions Bob Davenport....


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 19 May 20 - 01:23 PM

https://books.google.ca/books?id=y645DgAAQBAJ&pg=PT325&lpg=PT325&dq=source+singers+remark+about+traditional+music&source=bl&ots=


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 20 - 01:27 PM

Great Book Starry - particularly about Peggy's family
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 01:34 PM

Bob Davenport


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 01:41 PM

this is good
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ick0uvA2M8M


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 20 - 01:47 PM

"did not exist then?"
It still does for the tourists, the difference now being the real alternatives make it unnecessary
Pubs likee The Cobblesone and Hughes in Dublin produce enough good music to satisfy any music officianado and the weekday daytime session in O'Donoghue's is magic
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 02:18 PM

soory to digress but the accompanist here behind jeanie follows her voice very well, was this robin hall
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ick0uvA2M8M<


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 May 20 - 02:31 PM

"did not exist then?"
It still does for the tourists,

I am sure that it does, Jim and in recent times both the real music and the erzatz have existed side by side. The last time that I was in Dublin for an extended time visiting my nephew was when Riverdance was at its height. One evening in the Temple Bar told me that the leggy dancers in their micro-minis were not for me, but if you crossed the river, you could still stumble on a worthwhile session.
But all these pubs were providing employment for musicians and dancers and I am all in favour of that.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 May 20 - 02:39 PM

soory to digress but the accompanist here behind jeanie follows her voice very well, was this robin hall
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ick0uvA2M8M<


Please do not follow this link to hear Jeanie Robertson accompanied by Robin Hall because you will be disappointed.....
On the other hand, if you would like to hear Ewan MacColl giving full voice and singing unaccompanied the Child ballad no.24 Bonnie Annie then this is the link for you.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 20 - 02:43 PM

2told me that the leggy dancers in their micro-minis were not for me,"
They really do underestimate us oldies sometimes
Don't mind the tourist trad - it tends to keep the bodhran drivers out of the real sessions
In Clare, we send them up to Doolin where the tourist go to listen to each other
I think the saddest thing I saw was in O'Connor's pub where the Russell family used to play
The finest of them IOM, Micho was fed drinks by the visitors so he didn't interfere with their sessions - we never got to hear him play concertina for years, though he did give us a couple of songs
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 02:44 PM

matter of opinion vic, the accompanist does follow her rather than an impose a rythym ,why not let people judge for themselves? what is your problem?


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 May 20 - 02:52 PM

what is your problem?
No problem, Dick. I was just pointing out that your link was wrong - try it for youself and than ask the question again.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 19 May 20 - 02:59 PM

Are we still discussing Ewan MacColl’s singing?
If so were I to be pressed on what is the finest thing that I have seen or heard in a folk club over the last fifty four years then the answer would have to be MacColl’s rendition of “James Herries” in The County Hotel, South Shields in 1970.
Over the preceding and ensuing years I have enjoyed many a great night listening to both traditional and revival singers and musicians but a performance by MacColl and Seeger always stood out from anything else. Maybe it was theatrical or maybe because it would be a mini - concert but each time I saw them it was unforgettable. Only once, when we booked them in 1972, he appeared to have trouble remembering his words which surprised me a lot but on the two occasions that I saw them afterwards he was as sharp as ever.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 19 May 20 - 03:12 PM

A main difference between source singers and those who sing songs for a living is fundamental. Usually <--- (note that word), source singers have other jobs or ways to make a living other than singing. Those who sing for a living usually <--- (note that word) develop better voices because they need to in order to make a living. The beauty of good unaccompanied singers who can entertain a paying audience is found in the adage that states "You can't run with a piano on your back." It makes travel easier as was once pointed out to me by a harmonica-playing friend. But then he didn't sing and play at the same time.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 20 - 04:10 PM

A main difference between source singers and those who sing songs for a living is fundamental.
quote
that is not what i said[ you seem to be continuning my point erroneously
i compared revival and source singers ,very few revival singers rely entirely on gigs for a living any more.
here is the correct link thankyou vic
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji9PiiiTnkc


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 19 May 20 - 05:01 PM

Dick, I wasn't thinking of you when I wrote the post. I was thinking of something Jim had said.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 May 20 - 05:10 PM

soory to digress but the accompanist here behind jeanie follows her voice very well, was this robin hall

No, it was Josh MacCrae* and I think but cannot swear that when I heard then first tracks first that they were originally unaccompanied (can't remember where I heard them first, it is such a long time ago) and I think, but again cannot be certain, that Josh's guitar like Robin's was added afterwards. It sounds to my ears as though it was.
The sleeve notes from the 2013 CD include:-
This CD, made from an early 1950s LP, features twelve songs from the repertoire of this great lady of Scots song with occasional guitar accompaniment by Josh MacCrae. There may be a few slight imperfections associated with the age of the original material, but we have tried to make the sound quality of the CD as clear and crisp as possible. We hope that you will agree with us that the quality of the music still shines through.

Early 1950's LP eh? Well Hamish Henderson did not arrive at her door in Aberdeen until late 1953 and I don't think that she made her first recording until the following year. The album was first released by the American company Riverside (RLP12-633) in 1960. No mention is made of who recorded it though it was "Edited by Kenneth S. Goldstein" and I know that he also recorded her during his Fulbright scholarship year in Aberdeenshire where his main informant was the great Lucy Stewart. The Goldstein archive is in the University of Mississippi and at one time I had a listeners pass for that archive and that may be where by "unaccompanied" singing memory comes from.
There is guitar on roughly a half of the 12 tracks and to my ears and in my opinion the guitar is totally superfluous.
What the album does offer is one of the finest recordings that she ever made. She recorded MacCrimmon's Lament several times and I take this (thankfully unacccompanied) version to be the finest. It is exquisite.

* Wikipedia gives his name as Josh Morse!!!


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 19 May 20 - 06:01 PM

Vic, is this the album you mean?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji9PiiiTnkc


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 19 May 20 - 06:18 PM

Probably not important but in the event it is or becomes so, the guitarist/singer's name is spelled Josh MacRae.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 May 20 - 01:56 AM

I don't know how all these people missed him. Ewan and Peggy seemed to be everywhere you looked.

I don't see much point in discussing his style. He made a synthesis that seemed to work for him.

sadly he's not in a position to do it differently - even if you wanted him to do it all differently.

He had a bloody good go at it.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 May 20 - 02:20 AM

well Vic , the reason it doesnt restrict her singing is that it was afterwards, yes it is superflous ,but i was only trying to say that it did not force or restrict her singing. of course it would not if it was done after. peter kennedy i suppose that was one of his tricks, the sort of caper he got up to. the bounder


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Vic Smith
Date: 20 May 20 - 05:57 AM

Vic, is this the album you mean?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji9PiiiTnkc


Yes, I was responding to Dick's link to it.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Vic Smith
Date: 20 May 20 - 06:29 AM

Dick -
well Vic , the reason it doesnt restrict her singing is that it was afterwards, yes it is superflous ,but i was only trying to say that it did not force or restrict her singing. of course it would not if it was done after. peter kennedy i suppose that was one of his tricks, the sort of caper he got up to. the bounder

As far as Hall and the Collector releases are concerned, it was almost certainly the work of Peter Kennedy

As far as McRae and the American release on Riverside, I very much doubt that Kennedy had anything to do with it. If I were asked to name a suspect, I would suggest Goldstein was probnbly (and inadviseably) trying to make Jeannie's singing more accessible to the American market the album was aimed at. This is no more than an informed guess on my part.

.... and calling PK a 'bounder' is probably more polite than any word I would use to describe his unseemly activities. He was, however, the most successful and determined British collector of his time and I am eternally grateful for the recordings that has left behind. It is a dilemma - like another figure, his legacy is much discussed a good while after his death.

Starship -
the guitarist/singer's name is spelled Josh MacRae.
Correct - and you are are right to point it out. I did know that but as is indicated by the indentation in my post this is a direct quote from the album's booklet notes. When making a direct quotation, I never alter the spelling or grammar of it.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 May 20 - 06:40 AM

Fred and folk clubs if I might extend the drift a little:

Fred was quite an astute fellow who had been around the folkscene for many years. He recognised quite early on that he was an entertainer and like many another 'putting on an act', appearing on a stage. His stage persona was quite calculated and it worked! He got bookings in many clubs whilst other country singers could only manage a fraction of his bookings. It paid for his beer and all he had to do was dress up and stand up and sing, and we all adored him for it, and still do. If he wasn't some people's cup of tea or if they thought in some way he was a fake then that's their problem.

Don't forget that many of these latterday country singers had lost their old audiences to pop music and other pursuits, and so they embraced the folkscene? And some of us at least are very thankful that they did.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST
Date: 20 May 20 - 06:41 AM

Ewan McColl is one of those characters the mere mention of whose name sets brother against brother - a bit like Jesus Christ, really.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 May 20 - 06:49 AM

The contributions of Bert and Ewan are surely beyond any doubt. I have no quibble over Ewan whatsoever, only those who place him on the wrong pedestal. He was not and never claimed to be a folksong scholar, except perhaps much later in life. There was also at one time a tendency, mainly by American scholars, to treat him as some sort of source singer. This would be very misleading, even accounting for the small amount of material he got from his parents.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Brian Peters
Date: 20 May 20 - 07:52 AM

Good comment by Steve about Fred Jordan, to which I would add that he had of course been an actual farm labourer for a good many years before the folkies discovered him, and the outfit he wore dated back to that period of farm work from the late 1930s onwards, thus appearing anachronistic and quaint to his audiences from the late 50s onwards. Not that he didn't milk it! There's an amusing anecdote from Reg Hall in the 'Shropshire Lad' CD liner notes to the effect that Fred was extremely unimpressed by the 'country bumpkin' fact of Cyril Philips when they met at a festival in 1959. Fred certainly thought hard about the way he presented himself.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 20 May 20 - 09:25 AM

Vic, I was trying to help, not 'correct' you. Have a good day.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 20 May 20 - 09:37 AM

Re Vic Smith's comment:

'peter kwennedy not collecting bob blake because he learned songs from 'books'
'Kennedy (I presume you mean him) never met Bob Blake. You probably mean Mike Yates.'

Reading the above you would think that I never recorded Bob Blake 'because he learned songs from books'. This is incorrect. I recorded Bob's singing, but it was only after his death that I learnt that he had got some of his songs from books. I have also said, on a number of occasions that I was surprised to discover a copy of Lucy Broadwood's 'English County Songs' in Fred Jordan's house. But this did not stop me from recording songs from Fred.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 May 20 - 09:49 AM

no, i did not mean you mike
i meant kennedys comment about bob blake [which i read somewhere possibly musical tradtions], that he was not all that he presented himself to be[ in coded language he was not a genuine trad singer] because he learned songs from books, which presumably explains why he kennedy did not collect from him. personally i think alfred williams agenda of collecting everything was a better one
my criticism was of kennedy not mike yates


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 May 20 - 09:52 AM

i knew perfectly well that you had collected songs from bob blake and i never mentioned your name ,so no need to be defensive, i mentioned kennedys name and why he DID NOT colLect from him, Is that crystal clear


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Vic Smith
Date: 20 May 20 - 09:54 AM

I knew Cyril well and thought he was a wonderful man. He was a regular at our folk club in Lewes and his stories and antics between his songs were hilarious. He was also one of the finest singers amongst that group of his traditional singer peers. He was an old-fashioned village entertainer. At agricultural shows, village fairs, harvest suppers etc. he would appear with his fold-away gate to lean over whilst he regaled his audience with jokes, patter, stories, monologues and songs. One of his regular gigs was huge beer tent at the South of England show at Ardingly. I remember seeing him there and thought that he was mesmerising. In his old-fashioned smock, he had his natural audience in stitches. Sometimes he took Bob Lewis along as his partner and Bob would sing a few songs whilst Cyril took a break. The greatest audience for those "Country Bumpkin" songs written for the urban Music Hall was found in rural areas and many of the old Sussex singers that I knew had some of these songs in their repertoire. Cyril's house was like a museum of old agricultural implements and he would explain how they were used to his visitors. His musical parties were always memorable.   I have very little problem with the public personae of Cyril Phillips as a performer; much less cringe-worthy than the tales that I have heard from famed traditional singers about them or their fathers blacking up to sing in n****r minstrel shows.
I could tell you dozens of stories about Cyril and his escapades - but perhaps this thread is not the place.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Vic Smith
Date: 20 May 20 - 09:59 AM

no, i did not mean you mike
i meant kennedys comment about bob blake [which i read somewhere possibly musical tradtions]


I would really like to see the reference to this comment. Would you please post it when you find it?


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 20 May 20 - 10:04 AM

Sandman (& Vic Smith).

The article you mention is probably one that I wrote some years ago for Musical Traditions. It is article 184, 'Bob Blake and the Reinvented Self'. The article is still available on-line. The reference to Kennedy is this short passage: 'On one occasion I mentioned to Peter Kennedy that I knew Bob and was surprised to find that Peter did not share my enthusiasm for Bob's singing. It never entered my mind that Peter may have known something about Bob that was unknown to me.'


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 May 20 - 10:13 AM

at no time was i referring to mike yates i had read his article about bob blake and was aware that he had collected from bob. i have[ in 1987] recorded a song from the repertopire of bob blake and was well aware he was not tradtional singer, however he was a very good singer.
the point i was making was that i judge singers on their singing abilty not their label clearly mike yates does too.
i do not believe peter kennedy did. and that was based on the fact that somewhere i read that kennedy had made a comment that blake was not all that he appeared to be.
i was aware of bob blake long before mike yates published his article in musical tradtions,
i learned songs from his repertoire back in the 80s and i have recordings to prove it.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 May 20 - 10:24 AM

vic, my point was related to the pecuilarity of the uk folk revival, that source singers have to be treated differently from revival singers i compared jeanie robertsons version of a song with macColls
now if there had not been a folk revival in the uk there would be no need for the differntation of labels or categories such as source and revival singers, you described this as arrant nonsense, but it is a fact.
if you go to ireland, where there was no need for a revival the term is not used at all. these are facts not nonsense.
you are getting very close to stalking me.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Vic Smith
Date: 20 May 20 - 10:58 AM

Please, please do not misrepresent me.

You wrote - 20 May 20 - 10:24 AM
now if there had not been a folk revival in the uk there would be no need for the differntation of labels or categories such as source and revival singers, you described this as arrant nonsense, but it is a fact.
Sadly, this distorts the truth because...
You wrote - 19 May 20 - 11:27 AM
it is an affectation of the uk folk revival because everywhere else there was no need for a folk revival
This was the statement that I quoted and described as arrant nonsense and I went on to list folk revivals around the world.
<><><><><><><>
I am sorry that everyone else has to read this tiresome stuff but it irks me to read lies about myself. If Dick wants to take this further, could I suggest that he uses PM and we can thrash it out there.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 20 May 20 - 11:16 AM

Jim Carroll, you may wish to see the new thread posted by Richard Mellish: "Obit: Nora Butler"

Sorry, buddy.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 May 20 - 11:23 AM

"if you go to ireland, where there was no need for a revival"
Sorry Dick you are wrong - Ireland has experienced numerous revivals - the present 'renaissance' being the last
When we stared coming here it was called 'The Ballad Boom'
I answered this earlier - 19 May 20 - 12:44 PM
One of the most significant revivals was the re-finding or, in some cases, invention of a 'Celtic' culture in the drive for Independence after the Famine - wonderfully conered in 'The Prose Literature of the Gaelic Revival 1881-1921 by Philip O'Leary [1948] - Daniel Corker's 'The Hidden Ireland goes back even further
Floklore was a major part of all these movements
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 May 20 - 11:24 AM

Saw it as it disappeared
Should read 'Daniel Corkery'
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Brian Peters
Date: 20 May 20 - 11:59 AM

Vic, thanks for the info about Cyril Phillips (a 'foldaway gate', no less!). I was making no judgement on him, just pointing out what some might see as the irony in Fred Jordan disapproving of another singer hamming up an agricultural persona. My present line of research concerns the thorny question of 'authenticity' in regards to the Folk Revival, so questions over the self-conscious or even self-parodic performance styles of some traditional singers are of great interest. As is the development of the style of an influential revival singer like Ewan MacColl.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 May 20 - 12:02 PM

nobody in ireland refers to source singers or revival singers that i have ever heard of or differentioated between them the term has never been used in my presence sorry jim, furthermore unlike the uk folk revival there is no circuit of folk clubs


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 May 20 - 12:08 PM

there is no folk club circuit in ireland i have never heard anyone use the term revival singers for singers in ireland


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 May 20 - 12:16 PM

I think folk clubs were primarily an English construct in the 1950/60s, Dick. But I could be wrong.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 May 20 - 12:27 PM

"nobody in ireland refers to source singers or revival singers t"
No theey don't - they refer to them as Sean Nós (old sty;e) singers
It used to refer to Irish language singers - nowadays its all the source singers
"there is no folk club circuit in ireland "
I thought that was true but it's not strictly accurate
There were clubs - years ago we went (with Bob Blair) to see Peggy Seeger in one of the older ones in Athlone
Dublin had a magnificent one in Caple Street - 'The Tradition Club'
I now know there were others
The Goílin in Dublin says it isn't restricted ut it is overwhelmingly folk and the newest 'The Night Before Larry Got Stretched', in The Cobblestone is almost exclusively folk
The Singing Circles have taken the place of the old clubs - most 'anything goes' but some heavily folk oriented - depends on who turns up.
I know there are several in the N.E. Counties
The reson you haven't heard the tem revival is probably because there's a finer distinction between the two here largely because of the continuation of the music
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 May 20 - 12:51 PM

exactly, it did not have to be revived the music in the uk in england inparticular accoringto maccoll and lloyd and others needed revivng. most of the singers clubs are unaccompanied singing and they are few and far between one in cork city two in dublin, maybe one or two others


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 May 20 - 02:27 PM

Hi Brian
Sounds like an interesting project. I think just about everyone who has ever performed in front of an audience has consciously or in some cases unconsciously changed their persona in some way. It almost goes with the job as it were, wearing of seamen's caps, Arran sweaters, old-fashioned waistcoats, adopting a different accent, changing your voice in some way, playing up to audience perception, altering your chorus or speed of singing to accord with audience, the list is endless. Other genres perhaps even moreso, cowboy hats, dress suits, gypsy costume, gaiters, garish t-shirts, Hawaiian shirts etc. The dancers and mummers have always done it, so why not the singers?


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST
Date: 20 May 20 - 02:50 PM

do you mean adapting your 'product' to suit the audience- does that include your repertoire?- with all his faults MacColl would never have done that.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,big al whittle
Date: 20 May 20 - 03:04 PM

what is to be gained by putting Ewan's singing under the microscope.

he did his best to perform and present songs.

I suppose if anything , he sounds very determinedly to be virile - which in totality comes over as a bit butch - but he was a theatrical remember, so that was okay. Its how that generation did Shakespeare.

No Derek Jacobi, or Simon Russell Beale in those days.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,kenny
Date: 20 May 20 - 03:41 PM

Sorry to be pedantic Steve, but "Aran" sweaters, from the Aran islands in Ireland, not Arran, in Scotland. A common mistake.
Carry on.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 May 20 - 04:05 PM

Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Dave the Gnome - PM
Date: 20 May 20 - 12:16 PM

I think folk clubs were primarily an English construct in the 1950/60s, Dick. But I could be wrong. exactly my point where there was no revival it is not needed to use the term revival ,furthermore people judge the singing on their merits just as you do if you do not like a revival singer or a source singer that is your prerogative.
why should source singers be judged differntly.
in ireland people just judge the singer on their merit not on their label. this is a music forum it is good to be able to discuss music during the lockdown here is shoals of herring
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ov81aogaxg


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 May 20 - 04:05 PM

My sister knitted me an Arran sweater and she's from St Helens.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST
Date: 20 May 20 - 04:26 PM

she couldn't spell either


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 May 20 - 04:41 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlJ6P9EkoWw a great song well sung


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 May 20 - 08:40 AM

I would dearly loved to take part in discussion on both the Ewan and Bert threads, but as I have just learned that "Lloyd's singing, like MacColl's, is a matter of taste. But idiots like Jim Carroll get all peeved when people criticize them" according to a moderator, I feel that any serious discussion fro me is out of the question
I would like to set the record straight though
I loved Ewan's singing but that is my taste - I have never become "peeved" at criticism of his singing - I have merely stated my own feelings
I have become angry when I felt Ewan's character was being maligned, as all too often happens, and have said so in as many words
Ewan was a dear friend and to some degree a mentor who generously shared his knowledge and experience with me, Pat and many more lesser experienced and lesser talented younger singers

I have desperately been trying to get some of his ideas discussed rather than his politics, his name-change, his accent.... and all the other froth that prevents serious discussion of him as an artist - I was suspended for trying to do so not so long ago - people wanted to talk about his politics again

Ewan has been dead for more than three decades now and is no longer able to answer for himself, it is high time that that was remembered - as Peggy requested in a letter to 'The Living Tradition Magazine, it is time he was "allowed to rest in peace"
I was hoping to try once again to discuss Ewan as a theorist on this forum, but recent events make that unlikely
My feeling towards Bert's singing is mixed, but like Ewan's, I find his contribution to my life as a singer, an audience member, and a researcher immeasurable

Unless we are allowed to discuss singers such as these vigorously and fully without the threat of interventions such as suspensions and deletions hanging over us, I fear that will never be possible
I'll leave you to it for now and see what happens (or if this posting survives long enough for people to read it)
Keep safe all
Jim

    Keep your personal shit out of the threads and talk about the subject of discussion, Jim. That's all we want you to do. Is that too much to ask? We want to talk about Ewan MacColl in this thread, not about Jim Carroll.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 May 20 - 09:44 AM

i understand that some of his ideas included preparing 0neself for performance an idea that other people also took seriously such as prof alexander. Ewan thought it was important to warm ones voice up with vocal exercises similiar to that which opera singers do, in my opinion this is a good idea this is something that i do because i wish to have a pleasant tone to my voice for as long as it is possible., and because i do not wish to damage my vocal chords.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 21 May 20 - 11:20 AM

I thought it was SOP to warm up one's voice before a performance. It seems to be common sense. If stage lights are involved in a performance, the stage area is made somewhat warmer by them, so often people will leave their stringed instruments in the area so as to acclimate the strings. Heat expands things and cold contracts them. Much the same with vocal cords (which are muscle tissue). It also prepares the voice to be agile without straining the cords. If one's cords are still stretching while one is singing, then note control becomes much more difficult and requires more 'push' from the chest area as opposed to the stomach area, so warm ups should be part of the pre-performance ritual. If there is no area/room for the singers to exercise their pipes, then use a bathroom. Besides, bathrooms make us all sound better ;-)


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,big al whittle
Date: 21 May 20 - 07:03 PM

well, i for one, feel very sorry you feel like that Jim. You obviously know a lot about this subject.

I think we have to make allowances. Some people like these strong and vigorous discussions and say their bit however ignorant they are. i suppose they reason that they've got the vote and their opinion is as much value as anybody else.

What they forget is that they are talking about situations and people that some of us are intimately concerned with. They have no concept of the depth of the hurt they cause, and they will gird their loins in self righteousness to assert their right to insult and abuse.

Because - they are correct. they have a democratic right to make their statements , and the mods must preserve that.

Ewan MacColl made a huge impact on many of us who see ourselves part of the folk music world. Many people (particularly stateside) whom Ewan wouldn't really reckon to be folksingers. What I am saying is, that his legacy affects people who would never be body and soul disciples.

he was influential. he deserves your stewardship of his memory. try to see in context those who have awarded themselves a licence to talk tripe. try not to let it hurt you.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 21 May 20 - 07:43 PM

Under the circumstances I've been apprised of, and which I thoroughly disapprove of, it could be a good idea not to address Jim just now. Cheers.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 May 20 - 01:11 AM

this is good not sure if the concertina player is alf or peggyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxFiN30OI9Q ifind it intersting to compare it to this an example of songs evolving https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQLLRQNaVxg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQLLRQNaVxg


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 May 20 - 01:14 AM

it is peggy her touch is lighter but influenced by alf


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: RTim
Date: 22 May 20 - 11:04 AM

According to Mainly Norfolk - Sweet Kumadie is played by Alf Edwards..
Recording is on - English and Scottish Folk Ballads
A.L. Lloyd, Ewan MacColl

Topic Records 12T103 (LP, UK, 1964)

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 May 20 - 03:20 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPaQDjmEwQ0 broomfield hill, i do not like the tone of his voice here.
cyril poacher version here i find reasier to understand possibly because i am used to suffolk accenthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7PSNKX5g9o


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 20 - 04:07 AM

Mornin' all
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Phillip
Date: 23 May 20 - 05:04 AM

Tangential to this thread, but some might find it interesting - a lecture by Jean Newlove

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMyqa-TI7I4


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 May 20 - 05:43 AM

welocme back. jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 May 20 - 11:44 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joNTYxROyGo good singing, diction and all the words clearand level of voice is higher than the accopaniment, as it should be perhaps too much instrumentation there was a high instrumrent i found annoying it was not the concertina


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Phillip
Date: 23 May 20 - 11:49 AM

Dulcimer, I think


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 20 - 01:19 PM

A friend of ours who has just moved back to England (Sussex), has been in contact to ask advice on a book he is working on, 'Jimmy and Joan', an account of the work done by Ewan and Joan Littlewood
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 May 20 - 04:12 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eY0bJzKxA8


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Phillip
Date: 24 May 20 - 05:32 AM

That youtube posting has a claim that the best version is by Colm Reagan and Kerry Sansom, which I cannot find online. I prefer the version by The Exiles, with its almost stentorian take on the song, which benefits from that lack of subtlety for me. It becomes, the singing that is, the aural equivalent of huge stage posters in a Brecht play.

There was also a contribution in this thread which implied that Brechtian thatre was a thing of the past, and that it was a bad thing. Not for me. I think it's still highly productive today even if its didacticism falls on cloth ears at times. Not is it out of fashion. In the past fice years perhaps I have seen productions of Arturo Ui, Mother Courage, The Threepenny Opera, The Good Person of Sezuan and The Caucasian Chalk Circle. From local thatres to The New Vic and the National Thatre, with no less than Fiona Shaw as Mother Courage.

The Exiles:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKVIQ_IXTO0


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 May 20 - 05:43 AM

Peggy alternated on auto-harp occasionally on Accounting (great song) - in my opinion, more effective
I agree about Brecht Phillip - I saw Arturo Ui performed at the Abbey in Dublin some years ago- still a theatrical fist in the face and still very apposite
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 May 20 - 05:48 AM

A Ewan translation
We used to do this along with The adult version of 'The Cruel Mother, the kids version, 'Weela, Weela. Walya - used to bring the house down
Jim

CONCERNING THE INFANTICIDE, MARIE FARRER by Bertolt Brecht
Marie Farrer, born in April,
No marks, a minor, rachitic, both parents dead,
Allegedly up to now without police record,
Committed infanticide, it is said,
As follows: in her second month, she says,
With the aid of a barmaid, she did her best
To get rid of her child with two douches,
Allegedly painful but without success.
But you, I beg you, check your wrath and scorn,
For man needs help from every creature born.

She then paid out, she says, what was agreed
And continued to lace herself up tight.
She also drank liquor with pepper mixed in it
Which purged her but did not cure her plight.
Her body distressed her as she washed the dishes,
It was swollen now quite visibly.
She herself says, for she was still a child,
She prayed to Mary most earnestly.
But you, I beg you, check your wrath and scorn,
For man needs help from every creature born.

Her prayers, it seemed, helped her not at all.
She longed for help.
Her trouble made her falter and faint at early Mass.
Often drops of sweat
Broke out in anguish as she knelt at the altar.
Yet until her time came upon her
She still kept secret her condition.
For no one would believe such a thing could happen,
That she, so unenticing, had yielded to temptation.
But you, I beg you, check your wrath and scorn,
For man needs help from every creature born.

And, on that day, she says, when it was dawn,
As she washed the stairs, it seemed a nail
Was driven into her belly.
She was wrung with pain.
But still she secretly endured her travail.
All day long while hanging out the laundry,
She wracked her brains until she got it through her head
She had to bear the child, and her heart was heavy.
But you, I beg you, check your wrath and scorn,
It was very late when she went to bed.
She was sent for again as soon as she lay down.
Snow had fallen and she had to go downstairs.
It went on till eleven. It was a long day.
Only at night did she have time to bear.
And so, she says, she gave birth to a son.
The son she bore was just like all the others.
She was unlike the others but for this
There is no reason to despise this mother,
You to, I beg you, check your wrath and scorn,
For man needs help from every creature born.

With her last strength, she says, because
Her room had now grown icy cold, she then
Dragged herself to the latrine and there
Gave birth as best she could (not knowing when)
But toward morning. She says she was already
Quite distracted and could barely hold
The child for snow came into the latrine
And her fingers were half numb with cold.
But you, I beg you, check your wrath and scorn,
For man needs help from every creature born.

Between the latrine and her room, she says,
Not earlier, the child began to cry until
It drove her mad so that, she says,
She did not cease to beat it with her fists
Blindly for some time till it was still.
And then she took the body to her bed
And kept it with her there all through the night.
When morning came she hid it in the shed.
But you, I beg you, check your wrath and scorn,
For man needs help from every creature born.

Marie Farrer, born in April,
An unmarried mother, convicted, died in
The Meissen penitentiary.
She brings home to you all men's sin.
You, who bear pleasantly between clean sheets
And give the name "blessed" to your womb's weight,
Must not damn the weakness of the outcast,
For her sin was black but her pain was great.
Therefore, I beg you, check your wrath and scorn,
For man needs help from every creature born.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 May 20 - 06:14 AM

i think he sings the ballad of accounting   very well. i think he sings his own songs extrenely well


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 May 20 - 11:44 AM

A bit of a diversion but are people awate of THIS
I have the hardback but am always happy to have a digitied copy
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 May 20 - 02:57 PM

north sea holes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7wJxRl2n0s
Ewan MacColl
Come all you gallant fishermen that plough the stormy sea,
The whole year round on the fishing grounds
On the Northern Minch and the Norway Deeps,
On the banks and knolls of the North Sea Holes
Where the herring shoals are found

It's there you'll find the Norfolk boys and the lads from Peterhead,
There's Buckie chiels and men from Shields,
On the Northern Minch and the Norway Deeps,
On the banks and knolls of the North Sea Holes
Where the herring shoals are found

From Fraserborough and Aberdeen, from Whitby, Yarmouth Town,
The fleet's away at the break of day
To the Northern Minch and the Norway Deeps,
To the banks and knolls of the North Sea Holes
Where the herring shoals are found

It's off with a boiler full of steam and your engine spic and span
To fish the grounds the North Sea round
And fish and knolls and the North Sea Holes
And try your luck at the North Shields Gut
With a catch of a hundred cran

No need to wait for the wind and tide, you're the master of the sea,
Come calm or squall, just shoot and haul
And fill the hold with the fish to be sold
And steam ahead for the curing shed
And the buyers on the Yarmouth quay

Come all you gallant fishermen that plough the stormy sea,
The whole year round on the fishing grounds
On the Northern Minch and the Norway Deeps,
On the banks and knolls of the North Sea Holes
Where the herring shoals are found


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 May 20 - 03:58 AM

As regards his own songs, I have yet to hear them sung better than by the man himself.
when he sang narrative ballads he rarely let instrumental flights of fancy interrupt the flow and story of the song.
Bert understood this about accompaniment too


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 May 20 - 05:56 AM

Back now after 24 hours of no Internet - one of the wonders of rural life in the West of Ireland
Keep up the good work Dick
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 May 20 - 03:16 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sseyUtOvetA very appropriate and touching


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 May 20 - 03:28 AM

That's one of Ewan's few tunes that was used unchanged - he heard it sung by elderly women on a holiday in Sicily (we have the recording)

In my opinion, Ewan's best songs were those he made using recorded actuality taken from the people who were recorded for the radio ballads and media programmes
A batch of them from the unbroadcast film, 'The Irishmen', Peggy gave us when he died remain under-sung - all based on talking to Irish Navvies - the only one that made it out of the lot of them was 'Tunnel Tigers'
I began to learn them when I realised how they related to the stories my father used to tell about his life on the rods - a great way to relate to your songs
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 May 20 - 03:24 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLnvwPk7-u0
excellent song


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 May 20 - 03:54 AM

"excellent song"
It is Dick, and it's no surprise that it's among the most popular of MacColls songs among The Travellers - we heard it sung in a few sessions we were in with them
The way it was used on the Radio Ballad, alternating the verses with talk by The Travellers, illustrates the point I has making of how Ewan used the speech of the people he wrote about to make his best songs
THIS IS AMONG MY FAVOURITES - I sing it whenever I get the opportunity now
The subject, Ben Bright, was a retired (sort of) Merchant seaman who was 'discovered' working as an escapologist's assistant on London Bridge
He had sailed under sail and worked as a 'Shellback' (a sailor who has no home ashore) for most of his working life
He was also a 'class conscious' humanitarian who jumped ship in the 'Hungry Thirties' and joined the 'Wobblies', (International Workers of the World') in California, working as a Trades Union Militant, along with T. Bone Slim and Elizabth Gurley Flynn, with the fruit pickers
How unusual this was among sailors at the time was illustrated by the somewhat cp-doffing Stan Hugill who described the I.W,W, as "The I won't workers"   
Hugill knew Ben and didn't think much of his activities
James Madison Carpenter recorded songs from Ben when he was in Swansea
Ewan and Peg had been recording songs from him for a month or so in North London, when they turned up at his 'digs' to find that he had taken a job as a deckhand on a ship bound for Australia - he was nearly 80 then
They got a last card from him a few months later - he was working on a coaster 'Down Under'   
The found out later that what had inspired Ben to go back to sea was when, he got into a blazing row with two 'City Gents' on a London bus, who were declaring loudly that the striking binmen should be "thrown in jail"
Someone well worth a song
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 May 20 - 01:29 AM

that is interesting,Hugill sounds like a reactionary.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 May 20 - 02:55 AM

He was a bit - didn't detract from his work on sea songs though - Shanties from the Seven Seas remains the most important descriptive work on the subject in my opinion and the much neglected 'Sailortown' carries a great deal of background information which I still find helpful for both singing and understanding them
The best of these people had weaknesses which some people use to undermine the important things they had to say - Ewan, Bert and 'Dear Cecil' are prime examples
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Jun 20 - 04:45 PM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHPYnRT61ds ewan joined by bert


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 04 Jun 20 - 11:57 AM

I'll say one thing about his actual singing.

You can tell from his voice whether he is smiling, frowning or in anger. He can sound kind, passionate or in narration. It's a skill worth having and he had it.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jun 20 - 02:58 AM

"You can tell from his voice whether he is smiling, frowning or in anger"
No you can't - Ewan developed a technique to produce tones internally - part of what the Critics Group was about
Bert's 'smile' was a lazy short-cut of the type used by traditional singers in various parts of the world - immediately effective, but limited
Externally Ewan used the cupped hand to keep in tune and the back-to-front sitting position for relaxation - all these are variations of other techniques used elsewhere
Jim


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jun 20 - 03:27 AM

I agree with SOME BLOKE


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Phillip
Date: 05 Jun 20 - 03:46 AM

Perhaps that bloke meant figuratively?


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: GUEST,some bloke
Date: 05 Jun 20 - 05:27 AM

That bloke meant what he put. Jim Carroll just has to disagree with anything anyone who can occasionally be critical of MacColl puts out, even if said critic is pointing out an actual positive.

I say it again. His voice exuded the emotion of the sentence he was phrasing in song. He learned it as a playwright for voicing his actors and put it in his songs, even when he tried to be deadpan in delivery, his crafting of the words betrayed the emotion.

It's one of the nice things about his singing. He wasn't ever pitch perfect and could never have been a classical singer. His vocal range was limited. He was louder when singing low and quieter when singing high. (and yes, I have been sound engineer at two concerts of theirs,) but and this is a big but. I admire the passion and display of emotion in his voice.

It's a pity that Jim Carroll can't hear music. Saying it's just about the words is like admiring Constable for the grade of sable in his brushes.


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Subject: RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jun 20 - 08:35 AM

"Jim Carroll just has to disagree with anything anyone who can occasionally"
Rather that tsay why I agree why not concentrate on what I say Muskett ?
"He wasn't ever pitch perfect and could never have been a classical singer"
We have a very early recording of Ewan singing classically - a piece called, 'The Death of Hector' made for the BBC shortly after he joined them in the late thirties
He was good enough for it to have been broadcast
His vocal range was not limited - he made a great ob of 'The Flying Cloud' and 'The Sheffield Apprentice' without effort - both among the rangiest in the folk repertoire
I've never had a problem handling most songs I've tried (I have 300 songs on my list) - - I can no longer manage Ewan's version of 'Sheffield' so I've had to find another one
Flying Cloud was among my first big songs - five years ago I found I'd lost it so I worked on it using MacColl's voice exercises and got it back

If we ever get around to to discussing his work fully you might realise that rather than 'learning anything as a playwrite", he and Litlewood and later Newlove evolved their own technique based on Laban (sound production) and Stanislavski (a theatre technique where actors took their own experiences and emotions to inform the parts they performed rather than evolving a performance technique, which is the standard approach of formal acting
The technique can be found in an excellent little book by Stanislavsi, 'An Actor Prepares'

You're just snatching statements that you have no evidence for out of the air and getting things wuildly wrong - that's what makes arguing with you useful
Jim


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