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Review: Ashley Hutchings' 'Street Cries'

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lamarca 16 Jan 02 - 05:58 PM
GUEST,Desdemona 16 Jan 02 - 07:17 PM
michaelr 16 Jan 02 - 07:51 PM
GUEST,RolyH 17 Jan 02 - 01:37 PM
Joe Offer 13 Oct 11 - 03:28 AM
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Subject: Review: Ashley Hutchings' 'Street Cries'
From: lamarca
Date: 16 Jan 02 - 05:58 PM

I just got Ashley Hutchings' latest release on Topic, "Street Cries" (click here for Topic's description and here for's listing) and listened to it last night. It's a concept album, where Ashley takes trad. songs, and rewrites the lyrics in modern idiom, sets the rewrites to the original tunes and has the results performed by top-notch performers like Dick Gaughan, John Tams, June Tabor, Coope, Boyes and Simpson, etc.

I was a bit disappointed overall with the result. Bob Coltman did something similar, and a lot more successfully, in his "Son of Child" resettings of ballads. I think part of why Coltman's reworkings worked for me and Hutchings' don't as well, is that Coltman also wrote the tunes, so that his settings felt more natural. They conveyed the sense and spirit of the original in a new form. By deciding to keep the traditional tune, Hutchings' settings are discordant in some way; perhaps because I mentally overlay the original lyrics to a familiar tune.

I like his updating on a bunch of the songs, for instance: "Doing Time to Fit Your Crime" AKA The Treadmill Song is recast as a description of modern prison life, describing the dangers from drugs & your fellow inmates and the total waste of 10 years of your life. "He Ran Out of Road" is a great blending of the old and new versions of Salisbury Plain. June Tabor does a chilling rendition of "These Cold Lips", which updates losing your love to press gang to losing your love to a modern act of random gang violence in a pub. Still, I think these all would have worked a little better if Hutchings had been freer with the tunes, although a listener unfamiliar with the originals might not be distracted as I was.

Another thing that I liked about the album is that Hutchings includes the lyrics to both his rewrites and the originals on which they're based. In a provocative essay in the notes, he likens what he's doing to other "Trad" updates of familiar themes, specifically the evolution of the sailor in disguise from the generic "Dark-Eyed Sailor" to the topical "Plains of Waterloo", and argues that the folk process does over time what he's doing with malice aforethought.

All in all, it's an interesting CD, and I think it'll grow on me after several listenings.

Other viewpoints here? BTW, should Mudcat have a regular "Review" category (prefix "REV:"?) for discussions of new folk recordings, books, TV programs and movies?

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Subject: RE: Review: Ashley Hutchings' 'Street Cries'
From: GUEST,Desdemona
Date: 16 Jan 02 - 07:17 PM

Sounds interesting; I'll check it out. Another inventive idea from the man who brought us "Morris On"!

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Subject: RE: Review: Ashley Hutchings' 'Street Cries'
From: michaelr
Date: 16 Jan 02 - 07:51 PM

Review category sounds like a great idea.

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Subject: RE: Review: Ashley Hutchings' 'Street Cries'
From: GUEST,RolyH
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 01:37 PM

The outstanding track IMHO is 'He's Young But Growing' by Cara Dillon ( My Bonny Boy/The Trees They Do Grow High)

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Subject: RE: Review: Ashley Hutchings' 'Street Cries'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 03:28 AM

Here's the information on the Street Cries album from Topic Records:
    A collection of dark traditional songs reset in the present day by Ashley Hutchings. Sung by Coope, Boyes & Simpson, Steve Knightley, Cara Dillon, Dick Gaughan, Helen Watson, Vin Garbutt, Judy Dunlop, Dave Burland, Kathryn Roberts with Equation, John Tams, June Tabor, Pete Morton and Nasreen Shah.
    An outstanding new album conceived and produced by one of the most significant creators in the folk music field. Traditional music has always changed and adapted to fit and respond to the society that it reflects. Ashley Hutchings has re-written a dozen traditional songs and set them in the present day – don’t be alarmed, the experiment has worked beautifully and the results may well pass into tradition themselves.
    Each song is based on a traditional work and has retained the original tune – only the words have been changed. A cast of major contemporary interpreters of traditional song was chosen, song by song, and each has contributed mightily – producing a program of outstanding performance. In addition to that, the sensitive arrangements and backings have enhanced the whole project still further – producing an album that is both adventurous and highly enjoyable.

    1 Doing Time To Fit Your Crime : John Tams, Barry Coope, Jim Boyes & Lester Simpson vocals
    2 Damn The Day : Pete Morton vocal & guitar
    3 He’s Young But He’s Growing : Cara Dillon vocal & whistle Seth Lakeman violin & guitar
    4 Young Henry Martin : Dick Gaughan vocal & guitar
    5 Salford Girls : Helen Watson vocal & harmonica
    6 He Ran Out Of Road : Judy Dunlop & John Tams vocals
    7 Endless Pages : Steve Knightley vocal & mandocello
    8 A Drummer Won My Love : Kathryn Roberts with Equation
    9 Three Jolly Burglars : Vin Garbutt vocal & whistle
    10 The Shape Of A Girl : Dave Burland vocal
    11 These Cold Lips : June Tabor vocal Mark Emerson piano
    12 I’m A Poor Dress-Maker : Nasreen Shah vocal

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