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Sleeve Notes for Time to Rise by Crows

Time to RiseCROWS were a popular feature of the folk scene from 1977 until 1987. During that time, they made two LPs, CROWS in 1981 and NO BONES OR GREASE in 1986.  The tracks on this album were taken from the two albums plus 8 songs recorded for radio broadcast and never released. The original line up of the band was Mick Ryan, James Patterson, Ralph Jordan and John Burge.


Crows were formed in 1977. The formation arose from a meeting at the Anchor Folk Club in Benfleet. There were flyers advertising a concert featuring the folk supergroup Bandoggs. The guests at the club that night were a young duo from Swindon, Mick Ryan and John Burge. In the audience were up and coming London based duo Silas (James Patterson and Ralph Jordan) seeking a gig. ‘We could be a supergroup’ one of the four suggested, ‘and be called Crows’, said Mick….and so we were. Rehearsals in London and Harrogate which, for some reason, was the chosen home of Mick and John preceded a first public appearance supporting Kitsyke Will in Pately Bridge during the world cup of 1978 (Scotland losing again despite Ally’s Tartan Army!).

CROWS were a popular feature of the folk scene from then until 1987. During that time, they made two LPs, CROWS in 1981 and NO BONES OR GREASE in 1986. The band had a number of personnel changes during that time. John Burge left to join Kitsyke Will in 1981. His place was taken by multi instrumentalist Dave Bordewey. Ralph Jordan left to join Nigel Chippindale and Colin Thompson in Eric in 1983, though he continued to work with James Patterson as Silas until 1987. Ralph was replaced by Jim Younger. The band was joined by keyboard and violin player Steve Faux in the run up to the second album. In the spring of 1986 James retired to spend more time with his family and was replaced by Nick Passmore. Crows finally stopped working after Mick left a year or so later.

James, Mick and Dave reformed with the help of James’s current partner John Dipper, to perform a couple of songs at the Sidmouth memorial concert for Ralph in 2014 and the notion of a CD of unreleased Crows recordings was raised by Dave. This album is the result of that conversation. There are some tracks from CROWS, a couple from NO BONES.., but most were recorded for 2 Counties Radio in Bournemouth in 1982/3 and recordings made at BBC Radio Oxford. These are live performances and reflect well the richness and variety that Crows presented at the time.

This is an unashamed trip down memory lane for us. We will be delighted if you enjoy the journey with us.

Track Notes

1 Bold Wolfe

A long time favourite of the band and another example of the power both of their harmony singing and the quality of Ralph’s arrangements. This recording from the first album also marks Dave’s first recorded appearance with the band. Mick, James, Ralph, Jon, Dave

2 Coast of Peru

An English traditional song learned by Mick from the Ian Campbell Folk Group….that ages us!! Another favourite in the Crows set. Mick, James, Ralph, Jon

3 The Antelope

Written by Mick to a tune by James this is the song that we think of as having ushered in Mick’s folk operas. It still makes an appearance in A Day’s Work. Mick, James, Dave, Jim, Steve

4 The Factory Girl

Mick brought this version to the band and his singing carries the tune. The unusual arrangement foregrounds the harmony melody sung by James. James, Mick, Ralph, Dave

5 The Hungry Army

Crows’ gig opener for many years, this is adapted from the version in Roy Palmer’s book The Rambling Soldier. Mick, James, Ralph, Dave

6 Time to Rise

Written by Mick and performed by Ryan and Burge before transferring to Crows some time after John had joined Kitsyke Will. This is a reworking of the song George Barnwell. The tune was written by Mick and Georges Bizet. Mick, James, Ralph, Jon

7 When This Old Hat was New

James learned this version from the singing of Chris Foster. It was a song he always loved but it spent a relatively short time in the Crows repertoire. James, Ralph , Dave

8 Gavotte en Rondeau

Ralph was a great arranger of classical pieces for the duet concertina and this short piece featuring him and Dave derives from J. S.Bach (we think!). Ralph, Dave

9 Moreton Bay

The song comes from the Penguin Book of Australian Folk Songs via the singing of Martyn Wyndham Read and is about a notorious prison for transports. Mick, James, Ralph, Jon

10 Napoleon's Farewell to Paris

James found this when researching in the library at Cecil Sharp House but can’t now remember which volume it was found in. He has, however, discovered a heavily annotated typescript which shows that some 4 ½ verses were cut and the remainder of the song re-ordered in the version Crows performed! James, Mick, Ralph, Dave

11 You Rambling Boys of Pleasure

From a version by Tim Lyons and brought to us from Mick’s repertoire. The word which springs to mind is lush! Mick, Dave, James, Ralph

12 Northfields

Crows usually had a southern methodist hymn in their repertoire from either The Sacred Harp or The Southern Harmony. The popularity of these songs was inspired by the great Threadbare Consort and their version of ‘Russia’. The first of Crows’ versions was ‘Northfields’. Ralph and Ian Blake (then of Pyewacket) had fun one afternoon making a reggae version of this called ‘Jah Northfields’! Mick, James, Ralph, John

13 Sidmouth Days

When James was being born in August 1954 Packie Byrne was at the first Sidmouth festival. This fact, discovered whilst drinking with the whistler in the Dove on James’s 25th birthday, led to this song written by James and Mick together. James, Dave, Jim, Steve

14 The Two Magicians

A folk tale which crops up in traditions all over Europe, this was an ever present in the set in Crows’ early years. Mick learned it from A.L.Lloyd. Mick , James , Ralph , Jon

15 Long Long Time

This cover of Sandy Denny’s song was recorded for the first album. Our producer Dave Foister played the keyboards. James, Mick, Ralph, Jon

16 And When I Die
Laura Nero

A song by Laura Nero. Mick got it from a single by Blood Sweat and Tears. The syncopation occasionally tripped us up in performance! James, Mick, Ralph, Dave