Tanks for the Memory

by Fieldwork (The Production Company)

Features the songs and music from the latest of a series of successful folk musicals written by Mick Ryan and performed by the Fieldwork Theatre Company. The music is interwoven with original speech from the show, which makes the album attractive and understandable to those who have not seen the show itself. The production tells the story of Dorsets ghost village of Tyneham. It used to be a beautiful and well loved place but in 1943, the area was needed by the army, who gave the residents one months notice to leave and a promise that after the war was over, they would be able to return. The promise was broken. The show tells of the villagers sad departure and of their long and fruitless fight for justice.



This album features the songs and music from the latest of a series of successful folk musicals written by Mick Ryan and performed by the Fieldwork Theatre Company. Previous shows include: The Voyage, A Days Work and A Tolpuddle Man (co-written with Graham Moore). This production is directed by John Bond. The music is interwoven with original speech from the show, which makes the album attractive and understandable to those who have not seen the show itself.

The Dorset Four Hand Reel /The Huntsman’s Chorus
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Dorset (Rap!)
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Tyneham
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The Tank
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Defending the Island
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Whose is this Land?
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Life
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Farewell
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Partings Do Come
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The Leaving Time
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Promises
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Peace at Last
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Promises
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Shadows
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Listen
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Country Gardens
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Time
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Listen
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The Land
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The Grace
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Tyneham (reprise)
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What Does It Mean To Be English?
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Buzz

Robb Johnson

This is the story in song and spoken?word of Tyneham, a Dorset village appropriated by the army during World War 11 and never returned to its inhabitants. It also attempts to address the question of what being English means. Writer Ryans definition is a greatness of humour and heart, tolerance, courtesy.

The work is scornful of military/political authorities and mentalities, and presents an affectionate, moving portrait of ordinary Dorset lives. The tone ranges from humorous to outraged; Country Gardens is a particularly effective blend of both.

The quality of both Ryans writing and Fieldworks performance is excellent throughout, though theres a tendency to repeat choruses, good for folk clubs that like Singing Along but less successful on CD.

The album notes conclude with a complaint about indigenous culture being replaced by an ersatz theme park England. Indeed; but whether an album reliant on revivalist traditional forms ? its significant the way one spoken word piece is subtitled (Rap!) ? can avoid becoming another piece of Heritage, is a matter for consideration outside the limits of a 200?word review. Anybody fancy an interview? Meanwhile, buy the CD!

Dirty Linen

Steve Winick

The story of Tyneham told in song; may not ring any bells for nonEnglish audiences. Indeed, even most English people are probably unaware of the tale of the Dorset town. In 1943, the idyllic village in southern England was commandeered by the military for army training. The inhabitants were summarily evicted with a months notice to clear out of their

homes. Despite their initial assurances that this was a temporary measure, the War Department never left, and despite the townspeoples decadeslong fight to return to their homes, involving lawsuits and appeals to Parliament, the army has held on to Tyneham like a terrier holds onto a trouser leg. The Tyneham story became the basis of a musical written by Ryan and produced by the Fieldwork Theatre Company. A mixture of songs, poems, and prose readings, Tanks for the Memory highlights Ryans writing as well as his singing. As usual, both are sharp and sweet. Tanks for the Memory has perhaps a more specialized appeal than The Long Road, but those who like the folk opera concept would do well to investigate this excellent album.

Folk Northwest

Derek Gifford

This album features the songs and music from the latest folk musical written by Mick Ryan. As I have intimated in previous reviews of Mick's albums he already has a series of successful shows behind him and there is no reason, on listening to this current offering, why he should not continue with that success.

This show tells the story of the village of Tyneham in Dorset which was controversially acquired  by the military in 1943 for army training. It is a tragic tale of a community deprived permanently of its houses and facilities. In spite of various vigorous campaigns the villagers have never been allowed to return. Ironically the village is now a tourist attraction!

The story is told with a mixture of songs, poems and speech commentaries all of which feature on the album. Doug Bailey at Wild Goose tells me that the mix is deliberately arranged to provide the basis for a radio programme (please note Nick Dow!) and therefore the performances aren't in the same order as the actual show. However, this does not detract in any way  from the continuity of the story line as produced in the live show.

As in previous productions there are a number of Mick's fine songs that will stand on their own and will, no doubt, be absorbed into the repertoires of other singers. Of these I particularly enjoyed 'Whose Is This Land?', 'Promises, Promises' (a song that applies just as much to the present) and 'What Does It Mean to be English?' the latter, quite rightly in my opinion, having a go at 'theme park' England.

Apart from the awful pun of the title there is also a wonderful parody of the well known song  'Country  Gardens' . Not all the songs are Mick's as in the case of the excellent song written by his sister Joanna  entitled 'Shadows' and  a moving poem by Lillian Bond.  Mick has also used traditional tunes for some of his  songs.

Mick is assisted by his regular musical partner Pete Harris and also by Sarah Mallinson  who plays keyboard and accordion on some tracks. There are readings from Nancy Scott and vocals from John and Nicola Bond and Sophie Bond.

As would be expected from a Wild Goose production the whole album is well presented with comprehensive sleeve notes on the story of Tyneham and the songs and readings.

Some of you may have already seen the show at Cleethorpes, Warwick or Sidmouth festivals this year and no doubt  already have the album if not I strongly recommend you try to see it or at least buy the CD. I hope to catch up with the show when I'm performing at Broadstairs Festival in August. Unfortunately there are no dates listed for the north on the current  information sheet . Let's hope they can bring it up here - soon!



                                                                             

Green Man

Im willing to bet that most people have never heard of Tyneham, a village in Dorset, England, let alone be able to find it on any map. Not surprising, really, when I tell you the little known story behind this CD. The story starts back in 1917 with the invention of the tank and in the years before World War II during which the Royal Tank Corps was established at Bindon Hill. About half a mile inland from the sea at Worbarrow Bay, set in bowl of the Dorset hills, nestled the peaceful remote village of Tyneham. It was a beautiful unspoilt valley that time and the tourist industry had past by.

Suddenly in 1943 all was to change for the villagers, when the War Department announced that the area was to be taken over for Army training. The shocked inhabitants were told they had a month to leave their homes. However, the shock was lessened by a letter from the War Dept Land Agent that said when the War Dept has no further use for the property and is handed back, you will have every right to return to the property. Understandably this was taken as a promise and the villagers move out.

However, when the war was over the Army kept control of Tyneham, and despite a vigorous campaign by the villagers to Parliament, the village was never handed back. The military finally acquired the area by compulsory purchase in 1952, but the campaign continued through the 1960s and despite Lord Nugents report in 1973 which recommended the Army leave the area, the villagers were never to return to their homes. Even today, they only have occasional access to the ghost village, which is now a tourist attraction, to tend to the graves of their relatives in the yard of the Church the Army restored and which is only used on special occasions.

The album Tanks For The Memory was born out of the story and was presented originally as a stage production written by Mick Ryan and directed by John Bond. The performers formed Fieldwork and lead by Mick Ryan and Pete Harris, who need no introduction, are Sarah Mallinson on vocals, keyboard and accordion, John, Nicola, and Sophie Bond on vocals and reading and Nancy Scott, also reading.

Told in poetry and song it tells of the feeling and misery of the villagers, who left sadly but willingly, encouraged with a promise that they would be allowed to return. But the promise was broken. It is hard to believe that the military did not conceive that the area would end up poisoned by unexploded shells.

One of the actors (readers) has a real Dorset accent that sets the atmosphere beautifully. Interspersed with songs from Mick and the other players, so the story is told. Most of the tunes fall into the folk song idiom, but one used for the song The Tank has utilised the Fred Gilbert) music hall tune The Man who Broke The Bank at Monte Carlo to good effect (with different words of course, by Mick Ryan). Most of the other songs, for the main part, have words written by Mick Ryan, and one by Lillian and Sophie Bond and another by Joanna Ryan have utilised trad tunes. In all it flows and comes over very well and paints a picture in your mind.

Taken away from the poetry and story readings etc, several of the songs could stand alone and would grace another album without any trouble, the most notable of these being Defending The Island, reflecting the Dorset coast line when invasion threatened in days gone by. Farewell, saying goodbye to friends and neighbours, is so sad. However I thought the most powerful song on the album is Promises, Promises: Kings, Clerics, and Politicians all make promises - but how many keep them?

This album is sure to be of interest to anyone from Dorset, but even to one who lives over 200 miles away, the album is very entertaining and good listening, and I am sure you will enjoy it too.

Whats Afpot

Jerry Bus

Tanks for the Memory is the story of the village of Tyneham in Dorset. Taken from the original stage performance by Fieldwork it uses songs, readings and tunes to bring to life the feelings of the inhabitants of this remote village as they were asked to leave their houses. Sorrow became heartbreak and anger when the Ministry of Defence refused to return the land, which was clearly very special to all those who lived there; like the Bond family who had been there since 1683 and contribute vocals and readings to this CD.

Nearly everyday we see images on our televisions of loss, government betrayal, communities uprooted and fiiends and families separated. Over the years these themes have generated many powerful sons; so what is special about this recording? I feel Mick has been able to capture the heart of the land and the people, Dorset is not Afghanistan and these people left their homes with goodwill at first, believing they were doing their part to help win the First World War. The warmth and gentleness there, shading through sorrow into anger bring alive these people, you feel you know them, you care about their loss.

Tanks for the Memory is best sat down with and listened to like a radio play, the pace the structure hold the attention and draw you in. The songs are effective in context, the performances and production are superb. It works as a whole, you can put it on in the car on a long journey and the miles fly by. I usually find spoken word on music CDs annoying but here the dialect and turns of phrase keep it fresh; you cant remember what is coming next.

If you have never heard Mick Ryans work before this might not be the CD to try first. If you like audio books or listen to plays on the radio then this is a must, a compelling tale told by a master storyteller superbly produced.