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any info on the Critics Group?

red max 11 Jul 06 - 10:17 AM
Leadfingers 11 Jul 06 - 10:31 AM
MoorleyMan 11 Jul 06 - 11:00 AM
John MacKenzie 11 Jul 06 - 11:48 AM
The Sandman 11 Jul 06 - 01:04 PM
The Borchester Echo 11 Jul 06 - 01:16 PM
Dave Sutherland 11 Jul 06 - 02:15 PM
Herga Kitty 11 Jul 06 - 02:21 PM
GUEST 11 Jul 06 - 05:27 PM
GUEST,Alison 11 Jul 06 - 05:51 PM
rich-joy 11 Jul 06 - 08:07 PM
GUEST,Helpful Soul 11 Jul 06 - 08:16 PM
GUEST 12 Jul 06 - 04:43 AM
redsnapper 12 Jul 06 - 04:58 AM
red max 12 Jul 06 - 05:30 AM
Kevin Sheils 12 Jul 06 - 05:54 AM
The Borchester Echo 12 Jul 06 - 06:15 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 12 Jul 06 - 07:09 AM
MoorleyMan 12 Jul 06 - 07:15 AM
The Sandman 13 Jul 06 - 06:00 AM
Folkiedave 13 Jul 06 - 06:31 AM
The Borchester Echo 13 Jul 06 - 06:38 AM
GUEST 13 Jul 06 - 08:15 AM
red max 13 Jul 06 - 08:39 AM
dick greenhaus 13 Jul 06 - 10:52 AM
Kevin Sheils 13 Jul 06 - 11:50 AM
GUEST,The Big Iota 16 Jul 06 - 01:30 PM
John MacKenzie 16 Jul 06 - 02:16 PM
The Borchester Echo 16 Jul 06 - 03:12 PM
Dave Hanson 17 Jul 06 - 01:19 AM
GUEST 17 Jul 06 - 02:37 AM
John MacKenzie 17 Jul 06 - 04:20 AM
GUEST 17 Jul 06 - 01:28 PM
The Borchester Echo 17 Jul 06 - 01:48 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 17 Jul 06 - 01:50 PM
GUEST,The Big Iota 17 Jul 06 - 02:28 PM
The Borchester Echo 17 Jul 06 - 02:34 PM
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GUEST 17 Jul 06 - 03:05 PM
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Subject: any info on the Critics Group?
From: red max
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 10:17 AM

Not wishing to sidetrack the ongoing Ewan MacColl thread, I was curious to know if people here had any recollections of the Critics Group. There doesn't seem to be much info out there, yet I'm sure they were/are reasonably well known in folk circles.

I know about the basic premise of the group, but it intrigues me that a group that recorded half a dozen albums appears to have faded into obscurity. Even in Frankie Armstrong's autobiography they only get a cursory mention. Did they actually tour as a "band", or were their performances limited to the Festival of Fools?

I'm particularly interested in their pair of London-themed albums, "A merry progress to London" and "Sweet Thames flow softly". Jim O'Connor's sleeve notes didn't allude to individual songs, so I've no idea where songs like "The parson grocer" and "The lawyer's lament for Charing X" came from.

I'd say the Critics LPs were of a generally high standard, and it's sad that none of their output has ever made it to CD. Does this reflect a lukewarm attitude to this group? Any thoughts welcome!


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 10:31 AM

Red Max - As far as I know , NONE of the Critics were Full time folkies , all having 'proper' day jobs . That MAY have some bearing on the lack of release onto C D .


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: MoorleyMan
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 11:00 AM

Red Max - you'll be interested to know that The Sweet Thames Flow Softly LP has just been released on CD, on the Dutton Vocalion label - website www.duttonvocalion.com has the details.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 11:48 AM

I remember Dick Snell from the days of The Cellar club at CSH in the 60s, when Jack and Margaret King were the residents.
G.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 01:04 PM

Sandra Kerr and John faulkner,Sandra Kerr is still very active and living in Northumberland England. John Faulkner until recently, 10 years was working with Dolores Keane and living in Ireland.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 01:16 PM

Sandra Kerr, an English concertina heroine, still tours solo, with Bagpuss and with her daughter Nancy Kerr and James Fagan as Scalene and teaches on the Newcastle trad music degree course and does workshops everywhere. Terry Yarnell issued a new solo CD a couple of years ago and Frankie Armstrong continues to gig and do voice workshops.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 02:15 PM

I would be very interested to know if their "Waterloo-Peterloo" album ever made it to CD as I could never get hold of it on vinyl. Sandra and John played Newcastle Festival for our club in 1971 and we managed to get Frankie Armstrong and Brian Pearson up to the North East a couple of years earlier.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 02:21 PM

John Faulkner was in the Bagpuss show at Chippenham festival a few weeks ago, with Sandra, Nancy and James.

Kittyu


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 05:27 PM

The Critics Group was never a band, but individuals in a song workshop run by MacColl.
The Festival of Fools was the only venture they ever did all together (apart from political shows at the time of the Viet-Nam war etc).
Material for the London albums was researched by Group members, mainly from published broadside collections like Roxborough, Bagford, Ashton etc. Tunes were gathered from various sources - Simpson's The British Broadside and it's Music being a main one.
Waterloo-Peterloo never made it to CD (yet) but there were rumours that Topic were going to re-release some of the albums.
Scotsman Bob Blair issued a CD some years ago on the Living Tradition 'Tradition Bearers' series and works regularly with 'Stramash' in Glasgow.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,Alison
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 05:51 PM

Phil Colclough, from Stoke on Trent, author of 'A song for Ireland' was a member, as was Jack Warshaw, author of 'No time for love', also recorded by Chris Moore as well as by Roy Bailey. Fiddler Bobby Campbell died a few years back.

The Union Tavern, where the Singers Club met when the Critics Group was in its heyday, now looks very posh, with lots of baskets of flowers on the outside.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: rich-joy
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 08:07 PM

Whilst not lucky enough to own any LPs of The Critics, I found an old tape for ARGO's DA 86 (1968) recording "Waterloo-Peterloo : English Folksongs and Broadsides, 1780-1830" and that featured :
Frankie Armstrong, John Faulkner, Brian Pearson, Denis Turner, Terry Yarnell and accompanied by John Faulkner, Sandra Kerr, Jim O'Connor, Peggy Seeger.

Tracks are :
With Henry Hunt We'll Go
Lancashire Lads
The Labouring Man
John O'Grinfells
Cast Iron Song
Van Dieman's Land
Death of Parker
Drink Old England Dry
Battle of Waterloo
Boney was a Warrier
The Victory
The Dudley Boys
Keepers & Poachers
I Should Like to be a Policeman
The Way to Live
Handloom Weaver's Lament

Perhaps those who have the LPs could gradually list performers and tracks and dates, in this thread - and also CG reminiscences + "where are they now" stuff - I know I, for one ,would be interested!


Cheers! R-J


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,Helpful Soul
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 08:16 PM

Someone has already mentioned Bob Blair and from my experience he is probably the most knowledgable (regarding what's on record etc) and contactable of the group.

He is invariably at Whitby Folk Week and is in 2006 running a series of presentations there which would appear to expand on this particular subject. (I picked up a programme at the weekend)


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Jul 06 - 04:43 AM

Forgot to mention that Terry Yarnell, probably one of the most skilled singers of the group, has also done an album for The Living Tradition 'The Tradition Bearers' series.
I have all the albums of The Critics Group and will post a list for anybody interested - when I can get round to it.
In my opinion, the two sea albums were the best they did. There was also some nice material on the Argo Poetry and Song series (14 LPs)
If anybody sees Bob Blair at Whitby talk to him about the group and whisper 'The Song Carriers' in his ear - you might be surprised at th result!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: redsnapper
Date: 12 Jul 06 - 04:58 AM

I believe John Faulkner plays with the Belgian group Orion now (or at least did so until recently).

RS


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: red max
Date: 12 Jul 06 - 05:30 AM

Waterloo-Peterloo is an enjoyable record, possibly because its theme is less rigid than the others. I agree about Terry Yarnell's talent, he sings "I should like to be a policeman" with such ease, it's a pleasure to hear.

I can't say I'm as fond of the sea albums. Up to that point MacColl had always been a coordinator rather than a performer, and his singing seems to overshadow the contribution of the others. He had such a powerful presence that he was bound to dominate any album he sang on. Plus some of the manly grunts and yelps on the shanties do seem a little absurd from a bunch of London landlubbers!

The Critics Group also appeared on an interesteing Argo LP called "The world of the countryside". They sang "We gets up in the morn", and Frankie Armstrong gives a cheeky rendition of "Gossip Joan", quite unlike the strident delivery she's better know for.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 12 Jul 06 - 05:54 AM

Good news that this is coming out on CD my old Critic's vinyl is fairly knackered.

I thought that when Topic reissued on CD some old Decca/Argo stuff such as Folk Roots New Routes and the Radio Ballads that more would be forthcoming but perhaps the sales and potential sales didn't warrant it.

Hope this one sells well as I see from the Dutton Vocalion web site that they have also issued old Decca Barbara Dickson stuff so they may have some options on Decca/Argo stuff

I'd like to see any of the Critic's LP's and the Long Harvest issued on CD.

Just noticed that the BD CD is both of her Decca Albums on one CD same price as the Sweet Thames, so I wonder if the companion Merry Progress is also on it as a 2 on 1. No track listing there or on Amazon to confirm.

Whatever I'll certainly get it. The Critic's that is not the BD.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 12 Jul 06 - 06:15 AM

The Union Tavern

Yes, not much chance nowadays of the lock-ins in which Luke Kelly played a prominent part. New Merlin's Cave where the 'Festival Of Fools' was staged is no more. Jack Walshaw became a BBC producer. Some of the former Critics (including Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner) took themselves off to the Knave Of Clubs, Bethnal Green, in the mid-70s where trad/political song and agitprop theatre held sway. I wonder if any of this was recorded? It hasn't (as far as I know) been issued commercially). Gordon McCulloch, another ex-Critic, was involved in the Knave and he is still performing back home in Glasgow though his musical partner Bobby Campbell, as has been mentioned, died about 10 years ago.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 12 Jul 06 - 07:09 AM

The Waterloo-Peterloo personnel were: Frankie Armstrong, John Faulkner, Brian Pearson, Denis Turner and Terry Yarnell accompanied by John Faulkner (mandolin, English concertina), Sandra Kerr (guitar, dulcimer, whistle, spoons), Jim O'Connor (drums, percussion), Peggy Seeger (guitar).

The performers were:

Side 1:
With Henry Hunt We'll Go - DT & chorus
Lancashire Lads - FA (SK gtr, JF mand)
The Labouring Man - BP (JF conc, SK dulc)
John O'Grinfell's - DT
Cast Iron Song - TY/DT (JF mand, SK dulc, PS gtr)
Van Dieman's Land - JF (SK gtr)
Death of Parker - FA
Drink Old England Dry - TY & chorus

Side 2:
Battle of Waterloo - JF/TY (SK whistle, JO drum)
Boney Was a Warrior - BP & men's chorus
The Victory - FA (SK dulc)
The Dudley Boys - DT & chorus
Keepers and Poachers - BP (JF conc, SK gtr)
I Should Like to be a Policeman - TY & men's chorus (SK spoons, JO percussion)
The Way to Live - FK/BP (SK gtr, JF gtr)
Handloom Weaver's Lament - DT

The record also has an insert with the words and notes (it also has some spelling differences. Van Deiman's Land in the title on cover and insert. Jone O' Grinfilt in insert title.

Mick


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: MoorleyMan
Date: 12 Jul 06 - 07:15 AM

Kevin - just for info, the Barbara Dickson CD brings together the 2 LPs Do Right Woman and From The Beggar's Mantle. As you say, it looks like DV may have options on other Decca/Argo stuff, I'll try to find out more.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Jul 06 - 06:00 AM

wasnt there also a banjo player Donal Macguire involved as well.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 13 Jul 06 - 06:31 AM

Terry Yarnell?

And one of the landlords involved, Tony Rose, (NOT the singer) is living in South Shields.

He had a complete set of Festival of Fools scripts which I now believe are in the possession of Peggy.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 13 Jul 06 - 06:38 AM

Dónal Maguire was indeed involved and later in The Knave before forming a duo with Liam Webster. These days, he tours as a solo performer.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Jul 06 - 08:15 AM

Donal Maguire was a resident at The Singers Club for a time, not a member of the group, though he was a member of London Singers Workshop, an offshoot.
Tony was a supporter of The Singers Club.
Jim Carroll.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: red max
Date: 13 Jul 06 - 08:39 AM

Kevin said "Just noticed that the BD CD is both of her Decca Albums on one CD same price as the Sweet Thames, so I wonder if the companion Merry Progress is also on it as a 2 on 1"

I'd say it was unlikely. The Critics LPs usually clocked it at just under the hour mark, so it'd have to be a double CD.

Just think if all those folk LPs on Argo got CD releases! You'd have Barry Skinner, Dave Goulder, the Yetties and many more. Hard to imagine the Long Harvest getting a re-release, those seemed to have more scholarly value than entertainment


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 13 Jul 06 - 10:52 AM

One of my major frustrations as a CD dealer is that there are a large number of marvelous re-releases produced in Japan that I never hear about until they're out of print. There was one of the Critic's Circle; there was one of Hedy West.

These are, as far as I can tell, produced in very short runs for the Japanese audience. If anyone knows how I can find out what's being offered, I'd be most grateful.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 13 Jul 06 - 11:50 AM

Yes red max you're right the length of the Critic's LPs would preclude the 2 on 1 let's hope the Merry Progress comes along as well, although both my vinyls are reasonably good condition anyway.

And DG the only Japanese release that comes immediately to mind is a pressing of Peta Webb's Topic LP. We used to have a copy in the Folk Club raffle prize box but I think it's gone long ago.

Might still be available but I have no info on the label etc.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,The Big Iota
Date: 16 Jul 06 - 01:30 PM

Why waste time on The Critics Group? Mostly no-hoper singers, especially Countess Richard, ridiculous ideological presumptions and, above all, a terrifying irrelevance to what was happening elsewhere in the world!

Terry


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 16 Jul 06 - 02:16 PM

Red Max, Dave Goulder is still available direct from the man himself, at a reasonable price too.
Dave Goulder's Web site

Giok


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 16 Jul 06 - 03:12 PM

So which Terry are you, Guest, Big Iota and how do you know me? Surely your memory doesn't stretch to over 35 years ago when I spent a maximum of 6 weeks in the Critics? I may not have been much good, indeed I wasn't, but must have shown some promise for Ewan to invite me along. I didn't actually go for the 'ideological presumptions' (whatever they are) but for the voice and stagecraft workshops. As for relevance to world affairs, you need to take a look at the Festival Of Fools scripts. Should change your mind.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 17 Jul 06 - 01:19 AM

' Terrifying irrelevance ' ? surely an oxymoron.

eric


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jul 06 - 02:37 AM

"terrifying irrelevance to what was happening elsewhere in the world"!
Odd - The Critics Group and MacColl were usually lambasted for the opposite - ie introducing the relevancies of world politics into their performances. Ah well - you can't win 'em all!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 17 Jul 06 - 04:20 AM

Not an easy line to follow, a concern for world events, a knowledge of where they will lead based on previous experience, and an adherence to traditional songs and music.
Today's happenings have echoes in the past, and despite the oft repeated old saw about learning from history, the fact is we don't.
Putting traditional songs into a modern tale, along with contemporary songs written by the people involved to flesh out the story, is a thing many folkie type people have tried with varying degrees of success.
Trouble is that it always comes with 'a message', which is whatever axe the writers have to grind. People like Roy Bailey and Tony Benn do an evenings entertainment, but it's all very left wing, so attracts criticism from the right.
What Im saying about these 'Musical Plays' that people put on is that it's very interesting, but is it folk. Is folk music a folk memory, an entertainment, or a propaganda tool?
Giok


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jul 06 - 01:28 PM

Carroll knows nowt!

The Critics Group wasn't just a 'terrible irrelevance' (who ever thinks that's an oxymoron should look up 'terrible' in a dictionary), but, worst of all, an appalling diversion from what was actually happening around their MacColl-cushioned minds.

If all its members had ignored Ewan's ideological exercises and gone out into the real world, then maybe Britain might have become a better place.

No, Countess Richard, I'm a Terry you don't know, but one who's seen you embarrass yourself on many an occasion - and you still can't sing!

T


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 17 Jul 06 - 01:48 PM

I'm a Terry you don't know

Oh, good. So again, how exactly do you claim to know ME? As it goes you're quite right about my inability to sing right now, but you can't possibly be aware of the (hopefully temporary) reason. As for asserting that Jim Carroll knows nowt, you clearly don't know him either, or anything about what the Critics did. And I say that despite my very brief and tenuous connection. All in all, since you decline to identify yourself, I'd really prefer it if you just pissed off.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 17 Jul 06 - 01:50 PM

Yes, the Critics Group did make some interesting themed albums with lots of fascinating material that you couldn't hear elsewhere at the time.

Unfortunately, I recall that these albums almost immediately fell victim to the vicious anti-MacColl prejudice which this thread proves is still active. A lot of third-raters and thwarted rock-stars (who were often using the folk world as a stepping-stone for their own tawdry careers) accused the Critics of being 'MacColl clones' (as opposed to being 'Dylan clones', or whatever, I suppose) and that was that. It's a very sad world!


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,The Big Iota
Date: 17 Jul 06 - 02:28 PM

Ah, CR, I've unfortunately heard you 'sing' more than once and my ears are still shredded by the first occasion.

As you don't identify yourself, preferring to hide behind an alias extracted from some obscure CB, why on earth should I let my monicker slip?

And, yes, unfortunately, I do know Jim and his attempts at singing - please remind him about the night in Crewe - and he still knows nowt about anything.

As for Shimrod's message, there really isn't enough anti-MacColl prejudice at present! If anyone disagrees, then please provide a summation of what the war deserter Miller actually achieved!

Terry


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 17 Jul 06 - 02:34 PM

my ears are still shredded

Wow, I'll stick that on my website (if I ever make one).


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 17 Jul 06 - 02:52 PM

. . . oh, and Child #68 is hardly obscure. It goes under the titles Earl Richard, Young Hunting/Redin/Reidin, Lord William etc etc. However the character 'Countess Richard' actually appears in none of them. That's the point. The texts aren't hard to find. Study them.

Diane


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jul 06 - 03:05 PM

I wonder why people who have no argument always end up substituting invective.
My singing - I may have been guilty in a former life, but not for a long-long time - don't consider myself a singer.
Crewe!!! Sorry, never been there, let alone sung there. I do believe my train from Liverpool passed through on the way to London though.
Political songs - the tradition is full of them. One of the earliest published collection of songs (Wright) was political (Latin and English). Both Ireland and Scotland have a large repertoire of political songs - Zimmermann - Hogg et al.
And yet again we fall back on the old faithful war record, name change, hand over ear level of discussion - ah well, it takes all sorts.
If Malcolm Douglas is still around (apropo of an earlier discussion on MacColl), I came across this recently from Bob Thomson.

Hi Jim,
Sheath and Knife, as sung by Ewan, is his redaction of a late sixteenth century text that I passed to him. It was first published by the late Helena Shire who was a close friend of mine at Cambridge and taught medieval literature & balladry at Kings' College. She found the text quite fortuitously in a MS in Panmure House - the ancestral home of Lord Dalhousie I believe. The Ms with many songs & ballads is now in the National Library of Scotland - I'm not sure how available it is though. Helena published two pamphlets from the MS - one contains Sheath & Knife and the other an early text of Little Musgrave. The pamphlets, part of a projected series, are both called The Ninth of May. I seem to remember that shortly before he died, David Buchan published a collection of Scottish texts, both tales & song/ballads. Included is the full Panmure House MS text of Sheath & Knife. I'll see if I can locate it in the library & let you have details later.

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 18 Jul 06 - 01:41 PM

"As for Shimrod's message, there really isn't enough anti-MacColl prejudice at present! If anyone disagrees, then please provide a summation of what the war deserter Miller actually achieved!"

Silly question really (from a silly and embittered, failed rock star I would guess). MacColl's record of achievements is too well known for me to list them here (listen to any of his many recordings or look at the songs in the 'Ewan MacColl Songbook' for starters).

Speaking personally he provided me with some of the most exciting musical experiences of my life (I got into his singing in my late teens and long before I knew that there was any controversy surrounding his name) and he introduced me to the ballad repertoire through live performances and the 'Long Harvest' set of LPs that he did with Peggy Seeger. I was also privileged, in my early twenties, to attend one of the weekend singers' workshop sessions, that he used to run, also with Peggy Seeger, and he convinced me there that I too could sing. Although I may not be the best singer in the world I consider that Ewan provided me with the confidence to give it a go. My singing provides me with an important artistic outlet in my life and through my participation in the world of traditional song I have made many good friends and have met many fine people.

I don't believe that there is any question at all about Ewan's public achievements but he was also an inspiration to people like me and considerably enriched our lives - now that's a real achievement!!


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jul 06 - 01:47 PM

Ah, now, 'invective', what's that? I reckon I use it on my tyres.

The creature called 'Countess Richard', now signing her/himself as 'Diane' splutters the following pile of tripe:

'oh, and Child #68 is hardly obscure. It goes under the titles Earl Richard, Young Hunting/Redin/Reidin, Lord William etc etc. However the character 'Countess Richard' actually appears in none of them. That's the point. The texts aren't hard to find. Study them.'

If that's some kind of point then my name is Erastus Z. Beetlemoth.

JC remains utterly wide of the mark (and he did sing in Crewe - sorry that I can't remember the exact occasion, but my dog still whines whenever I play a MacCrap recording).

I'm still waiting for someone to tell me what Ewan MacCrap actually achieved!

T


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 18 Jul 06 - 02:22 PM

Greetings Erastus

'Countess Richard', now signing her/himself as 'Diane

Don't you know? Thought you said you'd heard me more than once? Can't do lower than low F. Should be a clue.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 18 Jul 06 - 02:29 PM

You might have to wait forever, Erastus, as it all depends on one's viewpoint - how do you measure success and achievement. You made it clear that seeing through your glasses no such achievement by McColl is discernible. So be it, we can all live with that, and I see no reason why anyone should even attempt to change your mind.

By my measure, if we can pass through life and affect positively one person alone, that already is a great achievement. McColl's work has done that for me - it's a long and convoluted story, but it ends up with my situation today - to whom I am married and why, why I live in the UK, my current occupation and to a large extent why I hold certain beliefs. Not as evangelistic as it might sound, but there it is.

By my book his passage through this world has been worthwhile. I hope that others can say the same about you, me etc.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: MoorleyMan
Date: 18 Jul 06 - 06:14 PM

Thanks George, for putting things into sensible perspective as always. Sure, like every human being, MacColl will have had faults, but he will have influenced and inspired many in a positive way. That's no matter for debate, so please let us "cease all quarreling and back-biting" and return to the point of the thread.

I will say before I sign off, that the various members of the Critics Group (of whatever incarnation/vintage/era) whom I have encountered over the years have been without exception unfailingly supportive and yes, a direct inspiration to me personally. My thanks to one and all of them.
M


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Effsee
Date: 18 Jul 06 - 10:18 PM

Nameless Guest..."I'm still waiting for someone to tell me what Ewan MacCrap actually achieved!"...
Why should we waste our time?
You are obviously beyond the pale.
As they say where I live....
"you can't educate pork"


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Mary Humphreys
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 03:58 AM

Hi Jim,
I posted the Panmure House Sheath and Knife lyric in this linked thread on Feb 16th this year.
Sheath and knife Panmure lyric
Malcolm jogged my memory that I had promised to post it to the group.
I think you should take up singing again. I always liked your Manchester Molecatcher, which you wrote out for me too many years ago to remember.
And if it hadn't been for your influence, along with Terry Whelan and Barry Thomson in the Manchester Critics Group, I would never have burrowed into folk songs languishing in libraries with a misson to to resurrect them.
Mary Humphreys


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 04:13 AM

Hi Mary
Nice to hear from you again - hear you are doing good things.
Barry Taylor, by the way - he's living a few miles down the coast from here and we're enjoying wall-to-wall music four or five nights a week - not much singing unfortunaely - all the giants in the area have died.
Regarding our 'porky' friend; I think we should go easy on him; he obviously has his own problems - seems to be connected with Crewe somehow. He reminds me of somebody I once knew who wrote the mother of all pot-boilers and couldn't find a publisher. He would rant and rave a bit, then skulk off to another thread and have a hissy fit when nobody took him seriously.
Might be worth asking if he has done anything of worth recently.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 05:00 AM

>I'm still waiting for someone to tell me what Ewan MacCrap actually achieved!<

Terry,

I don't know what your gripe against MacColl is, but the next time you're in Oxford, you might want to call in at Ruskin College library. At the back of the library there is a room. In that room there are two enormous boxes of LP records. They represent the collective recorded output of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger.

Take a root through that box. Don't for the moment trouble yourself with the other ballad anthologies - Blood and Roses, The Long Harvest, the three LP Folkways ballad set, etc. Instead, dig out a set of nine LPs which Ewan MacColl and A. L. Lloyd recorded for Riverside Records, New York. Eight of them are called the English and Scottish Popular Ballads, and the ninth is an appendix called Great British Ballads Not In Child.

The set contains approximately 80 ballads, around 2/3 of which are by Ewan MacColl. Note the date of publication; 1956. That was before MacColl became a professional folk singer. That was in the days when most of his time was still being taken up as a working actor and playwright and singing was not very much more than a sideline. Perhaps you wouldn't regard the amassing of such a large repertoire under such conditions as much of an achievement but I certainly do. It is far bigger than any other ballad singer I ever came across, and I would back many of the versions which MacColl sang against most of the others we know about. What's more, I would argue that he was the greatest ballad singer who ever recorded.

While you're in that room, and if you haven't already heard them, you might want to play some of the radio ballads which have been deposited there. They weren't MacColl's sole creation of course, but they were a ground breaking conception and it is hard not to think of them as works of genius.

Take a look around that room. Wade through the piles of correspondence relating to the Singers Club, the Critics Group, The Festival of Fools, the Songcarriers and all the other projects with which MacColl engaged himself in a long and fruitful life. While you're at it, note the safety lamp which was donated to him by the National Union of Miners, and his honorary graduation gown from Exeter university. There's also a gold disc in there for sales of The First Time Ever, but we don't need to dwell too long on that.

When you've done with all these artefacts, stand back and look at the floor to ceiling stack of reel to reel tape recordings. Many of them are copies of other people's work which MacColl borrowed for various projects. But even when these are discounted that still leaves a formidable body of field recordings made by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger. The singers they recorded include Joe Heaney, Harry Cox, George Dunn, the Stewarts of Blair and many other Scots travellers, the Elliots of Birtley and a large number of English travellers including Caroline Hughes.

The paper inventory of what's in that room runs to 34 single sided pages. Before you leave, take a look through the book of MacColl's self composed songs. It's pretty big.

I don't expect you to like MacColl's singing or to rate his compositions or to attach any artistic significance to the radio ballads. They are matters of personal taste. Equally, I am not an apologist for MacColl and I refuse point blank to join in any whitewashing exercises or to claim that his work was devoid of faults.

But to claim that the man never achieved anything is pretty damned pathetic.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick.
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 05:05 AM

Jim,

I'm not sure whether you are talking about me or Geoff Wallis. However, you are the one who insisted on calling a truce on this site and this is the second time you have gone back on your word. If you expect others to ebserve that truce please do likewise.


Hi Mary
Nice to hear from you again - hear you are doing good things.
Barry Taylor, by the way - he's living a few miles down the coast from here and we're enjoying wall-to-wall music four or five nights a week - not much singing unfortunaely - all the giants in the area have died.
Regarding our 'porky' friend; I think we should go easy on him; he obviously has his own problems - seems to be connected with Crewe somehow. He reminds me of somebody I once knew who wrote the mother of all pot-boilers and couldn't find a publisher. He would rant and rave a bit, then skulk off to another thread and have a hissy fit when nobody took him seriously.
Might be worth asking if he has done anything of worth recently.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,The Big Iota
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 02:07 PM

McCrap's still McCrap as far as I'm concerned.

Good to see Jim and Mary getting so lovey-dovey. Does Pat know, Jim, or have you been allowed off your leash for the evening? And it didn't matter where I heard you sing (if not Crewe, probably Stafford) - you were still rubbish. And so is Mary Humphreys (aka 'Countess Richard' and 'Diane') - worst singer I've ever heard in my life! And I still reckon that McCrap learnt nothing, taught us nothing and passed on nothing.

Who's Fred and why's he tried to muscle into this charmingly infantile debate?

Terry (from Alsager, as you've asked)


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 02:18 PM

Good grief, I'm not Mary Humphreys! Got it well wrong there, Erastus. But if I had a fraction of her musical ability and talent for seeking out interesting material I'd begin to consider myself a singer.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 02:38 PM

Quite interesting - I have had reservations about MacColl particularly his alleged prescriptiveness, but this thread makes me like him a lot more!


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 02:50 PM

Fascinating personality, this Erastus. Mixes up people he/she purports to know well, and all he/she seems to be aiming at is venting some spleen scattergun fashion, just to vent it. Either an interesting case for some cranium-squeezer or your average troll. Not even very erudite or inventive. Boring.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 02:51 PM

Even arseholes change the world, after all Mussolini made the trains run on time!
G


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,Nerd at work
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 02:56 PM

Ha! All that on the basis of thinking Diane was Mary Humphries? She ain't!

(I guess Iota/Terry knows who Jim is alright...)


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 02:58 PM

Arses and elbows come to mind


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: John Routledge
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 05:35 PM

Thanks Guest Fred McCormick. Your 5.00 am post is a wonderful summary which encapsulates the debate. No wonder it is still running.!!


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 05:35 PM

Just a brief word of explanation for any bystanders who might be puzzled at the direction this thread is taking.
Earlier this year I was involved on this forum in a somewhat acrimonious debate about a number of vicious reviews which appeared in an internet magazine, one of which included insulting elderly traditional singers. This debate degenerated into several extremely nasty personal threads one of which included postings signed with my wife's name. She had nothing whatever to do with the debate, but that made no difference to these heroes (I see by the above posting that she is still included her in his invective). It also sank to the level of a threat of physical violence on the Irtrad forum
Because of the somewhat unpleasant personal nature that some of the postings have been taking on this present thread, also because of the tendency of the contributor to cite fictional events as fact (an ongoing trait), I suspected that (as the song says) The Mice Are At it Again and one or other of this pair had decided to renew the nastiness. I was more or less convinced of this last night when I saw that one of their threads had been re-opened and the nastiness continued (see Folk Song Collector For Sale). This time, one of their targets includes a dear friend whose work on collecting has made him arguably the most important contributor to folk song in these islands. The fact that he is at present in pretty poor health makes him a nice soft target I suppose.
I have neither the stomach nor the time to become involved in this garbage, so I have no intention of rising to the bait. Anybody who wishes further enlightenment may do so by looking up these threads and deciding for themselves: 'Dog And Gun, Origins of Golden Glove', 'Folk Song Collector For Sale', 'Hunky Collector Required', and 'West Clare Collector Kidnapped By Taliban', -­ all good adult stuff as you may gather. The argument was continued on the letter page of Musical Traditions, but was closed by the editor.
I have no desire to turn what has been for me a couple of extremely positive, enjoyable and informative threads on the work of MacColl and the Critics Group into a slanging match, but, should anybody wish to continue to discuss these subjects I am more than happy to do so; I will also be glad to pass on any information I have on these topics.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 05:41 PM

Good man yourself Jim.
Giok


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: John Routledge
Date: 19 Jul 06 - 05:47 PM

For the avoidance of doubt I do not support "debate" of the type cited by Jim Carrol.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,Fred Mccormick
Date: 20 Jul 06 - 04:48 AM

Jim,

I wasn't aware that the Folk Song Collector For Sale thread had been reopened and it might have helped if you had explained the reason for your provocative and tasteless remarks. The postings to which you refer were not placed by me and they were not placed by Geoff Wallis.

I am also puzzled by the fact that you previously had a dig at me about two weeks ago; well before Folk Song Collector For Sale was de-interred.

The business you refer to is ancient history. I suggest that you keep it that way.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Geoff Wallis
Date: 20 Jul 06 - 01:29 PM

Fred mentioned to me that this thread was going on and that he thought a comment or two was directed towards me.

For the record, I was too young when Ewan and Peggy set up the Critics Group and, at the time, was far too busy immersing my young ears in whatever Brian Matthew's 'Saturday Club' threw up or whoever I could catch on AFM of Luxembourg and most of my interests were directed towards r 'n 'b and the blues (and remain so)

In other words, though I respect what they achieved, I've never had any interest in the works of MacColl and Seeger and indeed have never heard any of their recordings. Their work passed me by and I regret that, as I'm probably more ignorant as a result. I've also only rarely been involved in the English folk scene - again, I might have missed a trick or two.

Whatever's going on regarding this thread 'It Ain't Me, Babe' (and I was never into Dylan either) - just give me a fiddle and a set of uilleann pipes and lead me onwards to bliss.

Geoff


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: red max
Date: 21 Jul 06 - 05:12 AM

So, did someone mention the Critics Group?


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jul 06 - 08:26 AM

Here here,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,DaveS at Work
Date: 21 Jul 06 - 12:14 PM

I would like to thank everyone for the response to my query re "Waterloo - Peterloo" much appreciated. Regarding the names mentioned either as members of the Critics Group or those with close connections, over the years I have booked about nine of these into the clubs that I have been involved with at the time and there was never any cause for complaint; quite the reverse most of the time.
Pity that this thread deteriorated the way that it did; one bad apple......


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Geoff Wallis
Date: 21 Jul 06 - 01:43 PM

Jim,

Your eloquence continues to astound! For the record I think you meant to write 'hear, hear'. As for your actual point, that's probably best lost in the mysteries of time.

However, why don't you actually log into the Mudcat site and reduce the number of guest postings?

Geoff


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jul 06 - 03:33 PM

I must apologise to everybody for bringing my own personal baggage to this forum; I thought it better to try and get it out of the way rather than let it fester into another slanging match.John Routledge is right, what went on wasn't a debate ? though it took nearly four years for it to degenerate to the stage that it did on those threads.
I hope I'm not being presumptuous, but I thought I might give some idea of how the Critics Group came about and the type of work it did.
Around 1963 MacColl was asked by a number of singers on the scene (Bobby Campbell, Gordon McCulloch, Enoch Kent, Luke Kelly, Helen Campbell, Alasdair Clayre etc) would he give singing lessons. He refused, but he said he would organise a self-help group and work with them (at that time, three or four days a week).
The first thing he did was to play recordings of traditional singers and got the group to imitate them, not so they could sing like them, but to find out how the various aspects of the voice were produced. He presented a series of exercises; relaxation, tone, effort (adapted from Laban's movement theories), and different styles of singing; (opera, music hall, mouth music, Gilbert and Sullivan) in order that the singers get their voices as flexible as possible and to improve the singers grasp over his or her own voice. The idea behind this was to enable the singers to tackle all the differing types of song in the repertoire (shanties, big ballads, lyrical pieces, comic songs, fast, slow, ornamented, plain etc), should they wish to. At the beginning these exercises were concentrated on, but after a while singers would be expected to practice them in their own time ? the longer you worked at them, the easier they got.   Many of the exercises he introduced had been developed during his time in Theatre Workshop.
The main work on actual singing was the group criticism (hence the name of the group). A singer was asked to present a programme of four, five, six maybe varying types of songs for criticism, sing them, and the group would discuss the performance and make suggestions of how they might be improved. In many ways this latter work was the most difficult; to get up before a group of people and sing knowing that they were going to tell you what they thought of it at the end of the performance.   None of these suggestions were writ in stone, they were just that ? suggestions. The singer was not committed to taking up the suggestions that were made, though, after a while they were expected to show some progress in their ability. Occasionally MacColl would give private tuition to those needing help.
All this work was voluntary; I don't remember seeing any bars on the windows. Singers could pack up and go whenever they pleased; some did. I believed that those who stayed and did the work became better singers
The bulk of this work I have described was aimed at improving singing technique, but this was only a tiny part of the work that was done. From the beginning, MacColl argued that that main aim of any singer should be to understand the songs, to enjoy them and to communicate that understanding and enjoyment to the listener. There was a great deal of work developed on this side of singing - but this is taking far too long as it is.
I have heard it argued that working on singing in this way can destroy the enjoyment of the song. When Pat and I interviewed him we covered this point. This was his reply.

"Now you might say that working and training to develop your voice to sing Nine Maidens A-milking Did Go or Lord Randall is calculated to destroy your original joy in singing, at least that's the argument that's put to me from time to time, or has been put to me from time to time by singers who should know better.   
The better you can do a thing the more you enjoy it.   Anybody who's ever tried to sing and got up in front of an audience and made a bloody mess of it knows that you're not enjoying it when you're making a balls of it, but you are enjoying it when it's working, when all the things you want to happen are happening.    And that can happen without training, sure it can, but it's hit or miss.   If you're training it can happen more, that's the difference.   It can't happen every time, not with anybody, although your training can stand you in good stead, it's something to fall back on, a technique, you know.   It's something that will at least make sure that you're not absolutely diabolical?????
The objective, really for the singer is to create a situation where when he starts to sing he's no longer worried about technique, he's done all that, and he can give the whole of his or her attention to the song itself, she can give her or he can give his whole attention to the sheer act of enjoying the song".

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jul 06 - 03:45 AM

Dear Geoff,
Thank you for pointing out my error. I must apologise for my literary lapse - it must go against everything you stand for in your campaign to make poor writing a thing of the past.
Contrary to your friend's statement, you seem to be intent on pursuing our differences. I have to say I can see no purpose in this as you appear to be quite set in your attitude to the tradition, its performers and others working in the field, but in the spirit of friendship and co-operation I am prepared to continue our argument on the condition that you open up another thread in order that people interested in the current topic (The Critics Group) be allowed to continue discussing it.
Very best wishes,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Geoff Wallis
Date: 22 Jul 06 - 01:46 PM

Jim,

'Poor writing' was never my target, but poor research remains so and on the day when you finally admit that your notes to 'Around the Hills of Clare' fall into that category and did a gross disservice to your recorded singers from Clare, then there'll be a whooping and a hollering in the streets of Lahinch!

You wrote 'Contrary to your friend's statement, you seem to be intent on pursuing our differences'. I presume the 'friend' you're referring to is Fred. Well, Fred is indeed a good friend, but his input to this thread has nothing to do with my own.

Labouring onwards, you use the phrase 'pursuing our differences'. I have no such 'differences' with you, Jim - they're entirely your own self-opinionated creation. Your messages to various newsgroups and lists have often revealed you as an ill-informed bigot who seems to know rather less than nothing about anything that's been happening regarding Ireland's traditional music over the last forty years. Then, whenever your ill-formed views are challenged you resort to one of either a couple of knee-jerk responses - 1) MacColl wouldn't have liked that, or 2) any involvement of 'non-traditional' instruments negates the debate. In terms of the latter, you've never defined your own assessment of what makes a 'traditional' instrument and the reason is, simply, that you're way out of your depth and haven't a clue!

I note that you've completely ignored my request for you to log on to the Mudcat site and give up your 'guest' identity. If you do so, then I'd be happy to start a thread regarding your inadequacies as a researcher, but then you won't do so, will you?


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Jul 06 - 02:10 PM

Ignore the trolls! They should NEVER be fed.

Otherwise a very interesting thread.

CXharley Noble


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,The Ultimate Baconburger
Date: 23 Jul 06 - 01:55 PM

Jim Carol's description of the Critics Group's practise sounds like something hapening beyond the Iorn Curtain during the Cold War! Did we really invaded Europe for this>?


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 23 Jul 06 - 02:52 PM

practice!


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 23 Jul 06 - 03:00 PM

"Jim Carol's description of the Critics Group's practise sounds like something hapening beyond the Iorn Curtain during the Cold War!"

No it doesn't - what a stupid and facile remark!!

And who exactly "invaded Europe" for what?


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jul 06 - 03:01 PM

Why?
It was carried out by a group of people who wished to learn to sing, all of them voluntarily participants.
It is a method used by many theatre schools - and it was effective enough to produce great singing and some groundbreaking research work.
Perhaps you might give an example of where it was used 'beyond the Iron Curtain' - was always told that's where they shot people.
Constructive criticism and helpful advice is far more productive than constantly being told you're great - especially when you're not!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 23 Jul 06 - 03:51 PM

I think that Jim Carroll has at last given us a truly valuable insight into how the Critics Group worked; Mr Baconburger may find the techniques redolent of Communist or Maoist practice but the kind of open discussion of performances between fellow artists was also very common in theatrical circles at the time. As Jim observes, it can be an incredibly stimulating way to develop your own performance by getting honest and sympathetic feedback from other artists who are interested in the same thing.

It doesn't work for everyone - Anne Briggs notably thought the Group a waste of time; but it certainly didn't produce MacColl clones. The singers who participated in Critics Group sessions are all very clearly individuals who discovered their own ways of singing - but from what I have gathered they were all enriched through the experience. Just listen to Lou McKillen, Bob Blair, Frankie Armstrong, Terry Yarnell and Sandra Kerr to see how differently and powerfully they developed.

Fred McCormick has also clearly shown where anybody should look if they wish to question what Ewan MacColl contributed to folk music, and thanks to him too for reminding us how huge Ewan's achievement was.

As an afterthought may I suggest that Guest 'Terry' be nominated for the Earl Richard Award for Supreme Tactlessness!


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Jul 06 - 09:49 PM

Mathew-

Very well put.

As for the guests:

Ignore the trolls! They should NEVER be fed.

Otherwise a very interesting thread.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 02:02 AM

Don't know if this thread will continue - hope so.
I'm off to Fermanagh to celebrate (???) my birthday, so I won't be around for a few days.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,Megatroll123
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 01:49 PM

Some of us on this thread resent the kind of messages submitted by the likes of Charley Nobel. He and his like dish trolls but never come up with anything intresting themselfes.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,And
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 05:19 PM

It's been really interesting fot me to read that Gordon McCulloch is still going strong on the Glasgow scene; he's a cousin of my ex-husband's and I'd wondered how he was.

I have a couple of compilation CD's of Scottish stuff with The Exiles on, and would love to hear some more of Gordon's output. My son has played at our local live music club, so music's carrying on down the McCulloch line.

Sorry to interrupt your debate ... carry on.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: John Routledge
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 07:14 PM

"Folk stars of the '60's" including Ewan and Peggy are performing on BBC4(UK) Thursday 27 July in a two hour programme starting midnight and going into Friday morning. Should be interesting at worst but no guarantees:0)


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,Burglar Bill
Date: 25 Jul 06 - 01:22 PM

Good news that you're away, Jim. You'll find what's left of your property that we couldn't fence at the back of the skip in Claregalway. Sorry, but we chucked all the old tapes into a field on the way.

Bill


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,Muckraker
Date: 28 Jul 06 - 01:36 PM

Bill you could at least have left something for we scavengers. I found a decent armchair, but those tapes are a pile of shite and I couldnt fence any of them in Limerick.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 02:23 AM

Thanks for letting me know Bill - I wondered what happened to my 'Big League' certificate.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 01:29 PM

Jim,

Knock it off!

Fred McCormick


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: seligmanson
Date: 04 Oct 09 - 05:26 PM

I've come to this thread a hell of a long time after it was in its prime, but for those of its contributors who catch up with it occasionally, or for late-comers such as myself, here's my pennyworth. I was a member of the London Critics Group, the 'Dick Snell' mentioned above in relation to my time at the Cecil Sharp House Cellar Club. I knew many of the Critics Group's original members from my schooldays - indeed, it was they who encouraged me when in my mid-teens to take up singing seriously - and I knew McColl for several years before I joined the Group. Because of this I feel my opinion has some value here. My time with the Group was extremely instructive in a variety of ways, not all of them agreeable, and I left the Group under very bitter circumstances - Jim Carrol may recall the circumstances as presented to him by McColl and Seeger. Accordingly, my feelings about the work done by the Group - described with clinical accuracy by Jim - are profoundly mixed. Inevitably personalities played a large part in the way it operated, and it was not always healthy, as I'm sure Jim will be honest enough to agree. My personal view of McColl's and Seeger's own contribution to the final demise of the Group is fairly unequivocal. But I have to say that the kind of abuse heaped on the Group by certain people whose understanding of its aims and its work is coloured by political and personal prejudices that only they can account for is not only unpleasantly discourteous, but profoundly unwarranted. A huge number of highly-talented performers owe their ability to use their talents fully to the work they did with the Group, even those of us who finally fell out with Ewan and Peggy, and daring to call singers like Frankie Armstrong, John Faulkner, Sandra Kerr, Terry Yarnell amongst many others 'no-hopers' can only indicate in the writer of that phrase a powerful streak of ignorance and, quite possibly, envy. McColl, for all his failings, and there were in my opinion many, was the most thoughtful and most influential contributor to the creation of a cultural movement which has survived every kind of attack on it for over six decades: I refer to the so-called 'Folk Revival', of which everybody who contributes to this forum is a beneficiary. Added to which, the wide range of themes he chose for his song-writing provided inspiration and opened up possibilities for many great song-writers such as 'popular' music was and is incapable of providing. And on top of that, the revolutionary influence his work with Charles Parker had on broadcasting is still very much felt today: and you don't have to understand his methods or agree with his politics - which at least were rooted in the concepts of compassion and fairness - to appreciate any of that. We are all entitled to express our opinions, but if we cannot do that without using petty abuse or on the basis of firm knowledge, we should not expect those opinions to be respected.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 09 - 08:12 PM

Hi Dick (Snell, that is),
Wonderful to hear from you again - more later - I hope.
I have to say that I was never part of the personality differences of the group, though I am all too aware of them and the effects on its work.
As far as I'm concerned, my period in the Critics Group, as short as it was, influenced my attitude to folk music to such an extent that it has left its fingerprints over virtually everything Pat and I have done since.
Dick (Miles - that is);
I'm not sure of your motive for bringing up Wallis's review of 'Around The Hills of Clare' - not that I have any problems with it; I've always been happy to discuss it with anybody interested.
Those wishing to judge for themselves the rights and wrongs of what is, for me, one of the most distasteful experiences I have encountered in all the time I have been involved in folk music, is free to do so - the review is still to be found on the Musical Traditions web-site (though I can't help but notice that the cause of all the trouble - the Elizabeth Crotty review, has mysteriously disappeared into cyberspace).
Whether the 'reviewer's' hatchet job of our notes was justified or not, is there for all to make up their own minds. But the fact that thoughout what was the longest review I have ever come across, of a forty track double CD featuring nearly 20 performers, totally failed to discuss either the singers, the singing or the songs included - says all that needs to be said about the motives of the reviewer.
It is enough to know that 'Hills' ranks with the most successful album of field singers produced.
Now - what do you want to know?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 05:28 AM

Sorry, my last posting should read Elizabeth Cronin - not Crotty - never post late at night!!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 07:00 AM

my apologies, Jim,I was reading the post late last night,and submitted the message in error.
[Whether the 'reviewer's' hatchet job of our notes was justified or not, is there for all to make up their own minds]quote Jim Carroll.
I have the cd Around the Hills Of Clare,which I have enjoyed,Ihave found the sleeve notes comprehensive and useful.


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 11:57 AM

Off the topic of the thread, and while I also would hate any return to an old debate that was indeed an "absolute nadir of bitchery", I'll note that the Elizabeth Cronin review is still present on the Musical Traditions site. The review index (under "Ireland" in the Main Reviews drop-down menu) has headings grouped under "Individual Performers" -- where that one appears, "Various Performers" -- where "Around the Hills of Clare" appears, and "Books" -- where the Cronin review is also listed.

Perhaps best to get the cds themselves, which nobody debated were of value, and make your own judgements, though. Criticism is a tricky subject. :-)

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: RTim
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 12:01 PM

Interesting - I am just about to copy my LP of The Critics Groups - Ye Mariners All, recorded in 1971, onto digital media so that I can down load it onto my iPod?
I don't think I have listened to the LP for over 20 years!!!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: any info on the Critics Group?
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 12:16 PM

For anyone interested in hearing how some ex-members of the Critics Group perform these days then you can hear some of them in a tribute concert to Ewan MacColl on the following dates -

Saturday 24th October - Glasgow Caledonian University 2-5pm
                     
                Frankie Armstrong Bob Blair, John Faulkner
                Sandra Kerr,Brian Pearson,Peggy Seeger


Tuesday 27th October - Salford University -    7-10pm

                     Bob Blair, John Faulkner Sandra Kerr,
                         Brian Pearson,Peggy Seeger


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