FolkWorld #81 11/2023
© Walkin' Tom

Carl Spitzweg: Der arme Poet

Article in German

Tom's Night Shift


Fraser Bruce

Artist Video Fraser Bruce @ FROG

The Folk River

Bruce, The Folk River: Tales from the Early Scottish Folk Scene. ??, 2022


FRAYA THOMSEN: Release: New Music for Lever Harp

Fraya Thomsen

A nicely produced book of tunes, with a dozen challenging pieces for intermediate to advanced players, Release contains most of the music from Fraya's album of the same name plus harp arrangements of a couple of traditional melodies and other Thomsen compositions. There's plenty of variety in these twelve tunes to intrigue harp improvers and performers. In big clear print, with a spine which can fold flat, each page has left and right hand harp staves in a range of tradition-friendly keys from F to A, centred around G. With high quality graphics, a colourful cover and best quality paper, this is a very presentable publication.

The material here ranges from slow to frantic, and the accompaniment is generally quite complex. Some effects are specific to the harp, but most pieces could be easily transferred to piano or to other polyphonic instruments, or perhaps to a duo in some cases. The album performances show how this music can be adapted for an ensemble, although the book condenses these arrangements for a single harp. Fun compositions like For the Love of Shoogles, more serious pieces such as For the Water Protectors, and traditional classics including Give Me Your Hand and an old strathspey from the 18th century Patrick MacDonald Collection are all cleverly arranged for solo harp.

Alex Monaghan

Salt House - Lyrics

Salt House - Lyrics

"We've been burrowing away the last while making our new lyric book which has just arrived at Salt House HQ. Salt House - Lyrics is a limited edition, numbered and signed a5 book, containing all the lyrics from Riverwoods / Huam / Working for Zeus and Undersong, and features original linocut art for each song by Jenny (her side-hustle is Ink & Wool, check out her etsy shop it you haven't already). The book will be available exclusively on our UK tour (November 3-12), along with accompanying limited edition linocuts and risographs. Any and all remaining stock will be uploaded to our online shop on 15th November."

Salt House

on track...


James, Horslips: every album, every song. Sonicbond Publishing, 2023

Five-piece Horslips are arguably the greatest band in Irish rock music history, producing truly special, unique music in the 1970s. By joining literary craft and their cultural heritage with a fusion of traditionally inspired music with rock instrumentation, they created a genre of music which became known as ‘Celtic Rock’.

Bob Dylan 1962-1970

Goodwin, Bob Dylan 1962-1970: every album, every song. Sonicbond Publishing, 2023

Bob Dylan in the 1980s

Klees, Bob Dylan in the 1980s: every album, every song. Sonicbond Publishing, 2022

Horslips also pioneered an ‘in-house’ approach to the rock music business, controlling their stage presentation, graphic design, record pressing and concert promotion. Their finest albums – The Tain, and The Book Of Invasions – adapted legendary and historic texts with compelling music. Elsewhere the life and times of Turlough O’Carolan, The Famine and emigration provided a conceptual backdrop to Dancehall Sweethearts, Aliens, and The Man Who Built America.

But the band broke up in 1980. Reconvening in the next century, after the ‘longest tea break in history’, they produced a new ‘acoustic covers’ album, played stadium-filling gigs and television performances, and recorded two live albums. With a foreword by bassist/ vocalist Barry Devlin, this book celebrates (and sometimes criticises) the creative waves that Eamon Carr, Barry Devlin, Johnny Fean, Jim Lockhart, and Charles O’Connor gave us.

Bob Dylan is the magician who sprinkled poetic fairy dust onto the popular music of the early sixties. His songwriting sparked a revolution and changed rock music forever. The diminutive poet/singer claimed he was merely a ‘song and dance man’, but Dylan altered popular music from intellectually bereft teenage rebellion into a serious adult art form worthy of academic study.

Dylan headed for the sixties as a Little Richard rock ‘n’ roller but soon turned acoustic folkie. After absorbing the music and words of Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson and Brecht, he became a vagabond social troubadour. Basking in Rimbaud, he transformed into a poetic symbolist before later immersing himself in lysergic beat surrealism. The chameleon of Dylan in the sixties was bewildering to his followers. His first album was a raw debut folk/blues. He followed this with three acoustic poetic gems, three groundbreaking surreal, electric wonders and four that were more mundane and country tinged.

But by the mid-sixties, he was a strungout polka-dotted rock star. He crashed (physically and mentally) before leaving the sixties as a clean-cut country crooner. Dylan had mutated more times than a trilobite. Dylan’s ground-breaking music changed the world and his amazing story is revealed by exploring the eleven albums that he released between 1962 and 1970.

No period of Bob Dylan’s six‐decade career confounds fans more than the 1980s. The singer began the decade with Saved, the second in a trio of explicitly religious records, and a tour in which he declined to play his older songs because of concern they were anti‐god. Dylan's ambivalence about the songs that made him an icon was mirrored by fans, many of whom found his post‐conversion messages strident and judgmental. This made Saved his worst selling album in years and set a pattern for the next several years.

Suzanne Vega

Torem, Suzanne Vega: every album, every song. Sonicbond Publishing, 2023

Despite being a prolific time, in which the singer released seven studio albums, the decade was defined by inconsistency. Throughout the 1980s, some of his most profound work alternated with lackluster compositions and indifferent performances ‐ sometimes on the same album. However, even as Dylan struggled artistically, all of his albums contained reminders of why he continued to be celebrated.

By the end of the decade, his perseverance ‐ both on stage and in the studio ‐ and a spontaneous collaboration with some of his peers coalesced into his best received releases since the 1970s. Rather than closing a book, the combination of Oh Mercy and the first Traveling Wilburys record pointed to new chapters. The 1990s began a remarkable run of success that few popular artists have managed at any stage of their careers.

In 1985, Suzanne Vega released her de-but, garnering platinum status in the UK and this New York-based singer-songwriter’s self-titled album claimed the number 80 spot on Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Best Albums of the Eighties. Vega began her career as an ambitious ‘second wave’ folk singer in Greenwich Village, but since the incep-tion of that forty-year career, however, she has explored not only neo-folk mu-sic, but electronica, blues, new wave, musical theater, pop and Latin-flavored ballads such as ‘Caramel.’

The Byrds

McArthur, The Byrds: every album, every song. Sonicbond Publishing, 2023

The original songs of her extensive discography highlight heartfelt and hu-morous narratives drawn from urban glitz and glitter, Greek mythology, and 20th-century literary and cinematic celebrity, but ‘the mother of the mp3’ also observes people navigating the slings and arrows of everyday life.

Much of her catalogue, including the a cappella hit, ‘Tom’s Diner’ and socially conscious ‘Luka,’ have been covered by contemporary artists, but guided by multiple influencers, Vega herself has covered songs by Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed and Laura Nyro. With excerpts from the author’s own interviews with Ms Vega, plus insights from renowned producers, American singer-songwriters, label executives, filmmakers, composers and session musicians, Suzanne Vega on track brings this profound artist’s vivid discography to life.

The Byrds were just a little bit ahead of their time. By releasing six genre-defining albums in three years, their transformative powers took electric guitars to traditional folk music, brought jazz into psychedelic pop and helped introduce what we now know as Americana, being the first major rock band to embrace the sound of Nashville. They were heralded as the pioneers of folk rock, acid rock and country rock, not to mention space rock, abstract electronics and all the inter-genre crossover material that de-fines most of their albums. They influ-enced so many of the musical move-ments that followed as they constantly progressed, hungry to push the boundaries of popular music.

Ralph McTell

Jenkins, Ralph McTell: every album, every song. Sonicbond Publishing, 2023

This book examines each one of the band’s 12 studio albums, highlighting the many high points, especially from their mercurial 1965 – 1968 era, and the less successful later years when the law of diminishing returns took over. Also discussed within the ‘Connected Flights’ part of each chapter, are the band’s contemporaneous non-album singles and B-sides. Previously unreleased tracks that were later released as part of their extensive reissue cam-paigns will also be covered, making this book one of the most extensive guides to The Byrds’ music yet produced.

Best known for his international hit, ‘Streets of London’, Ralph McTell has recorded over 300 songs in a career that spans more than 50 years. Due to his considerable melodic and lyrical gifts, a good many of McTell’s compositions surpass ‘Streets’ in quality and have won him the admiration of fans and critics alike. This album-by-album, track-by-track review of his career ex-plores the elements of his craft.

Heavily influenced by Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and dozens of American country-blues artists, McTell eventually found his own voice. In this examination of his works, distinct themes emerge. These include compassion, optimism, fathers and sons, and the struggles faced by musicians and other artists who portray not just what life is, but how it feels. If his soothing voice and delicate guitar skills make his songs en-joyable to so many, McTell tempers such grace with a definite edge. Many of his best works are protest songs.

A portrait painter, McTell’s canon is populated by dozens of memorable figures that spring both from his experiences and his imagination. Yet upon listening to his recordings, perhaps the most fascinating character that emerges is McTell himself. In this book, readers meet both the man and the musician.

Photo Credits: (1) ?? (unknown/website).

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