Pride of the Season

by Jack Crawford

This collection of songs, my interpretations of them and the way I deliver them are all rooted in the rich and fertile soil of the English folk tradition. Nevertheless, I freely acknowledge the many other influences that have shaped, and continue to shape, my singing. When researching these songs I have found that they have no respect for borders. Here you will find a few from Scotland, Ireland and Newfoundland, though most would comfortably withstand being called English. There is also one contemporary song, if 1960 counts as contemporary these days. Jack Crawford



1 The Bold Dragoon 
Traditional (Roud 321) 

The Bold Dragoon is based on the song collected by Bob Copper in July 1955 from Enos White of Axford,Hampshire, and published in Songs and Southern Breezes, (1973). To complete a partial stanza in Mr White’s text, I adapted lines from several nineteenth century broadside versions that I found in the ballad collections at the Bodleian Library. 

I’ve also slipped in a stanza from a version that Dr George Gardiner collected from Moses Blake of Emery Down, Hampshire, in May 1906. The tune has evolved too, but it still owes a lot to the singing of Heather Wood in the days of The Young Tradition, long ago. 


2 Pride Of The Season 
Traditional(Roud 9785) 

Kenneth Peacock collected this song from Mrs Freeman Bennett of St Paul's, Newfoundland, in 1958. It was published with the title As I Walkèd Forth In The Pride Of The Season by The National Museum of Canada (1965) in his Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 2. 

When I heard Mary Humphreys sing her version of The Pride Of The Season a few years ago, I was enthralled. She and Anahata kindly introduced me to the wonders of the “Peacock Collection” and I am now the proud owner of a digital copy of the entire three-volume set, complete with many of Ken Peacock’s original field recordings. As a result I was able to learn this song directly from the singing of Becky Bennett. 


3 The Isle Of France 
Traditional(Roud 1575) 

With Mary Humphreys, English concertina, and Anahata, 'cello. 
This song was collected by Percy Merrick from Henry Hills of Lodsworth, Sussex in 1900 and published in the Journal of the Folk Song Society the following year. I have augmented Mr Hills' text with lines taken from broadside examples dated around 1850 that I found in the Bodleian Library's ballad collections. 

“The Isle of France” refers to Mauritius, one of the Mascarene Islands that lie in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. In 1598 the Dutch Second Fleet to the Spice Islands, blown off course, discovered the island and named it in honour of Prince Maurits van Nassau, then Stadtholder of the Netherlands. France seized Mauritius in 1715 and later renamed it Île de France. British forces occupied the island in 1810 and it was ceded to Britain after the defeat of Napoleon. 


4 The Rambling Blade 
Traditional (Roud 490) 

Learned from the singing of Walter Pardon as recorded by Bill Leader at Walter's home in Knapton, Norfolk, in May 1974.There are many broadside variants of this song, often referring to Newry or Newlyn Town, or Stephen's Green, and all agree that our hero was a “wild and wicked youth”. Walter once told Peter Bellamy that this was his favourite song, the best folksong ever written. It was probably learned from his uncle Billy Gee who was the source of many of Walter's songs. In memory of Sid Long (1953-2005), who had his own version but liked to hear me sing Walter's. 


5 Suit Of Grey 
Cyril Tawney © Gwyneth Music Ltd. 

With Mary Humphreys, English concertina, and Anahata, 'cello. 
A fine song from a wonderful man. What better summary than this from Rosemary Tawney (private correspondence): “Suit Of Grey was written in 1960, just after Cyril left the Navy. It's always meant a lot to me because, as a Plymouth girl, it rings very true - though I didn't know Cyril when he was in the Service so I never saw him in uniform. I have always thought it one of his best songs.” 


6 The Deluded Lover 
Traditional (Roud 3479) 

Collected by Paddy Tunney from his mother Brigid Tunney in Belleek, Fermanagh, Northern Ireland and published in The Stone Fiddle ~ My Way To Traditional Song (1979) under the title As I Roved Out or The False Bride. 
Many interpretations have been proposed for this ambiguous song. In my view, the threads hold together if you think of “the lassie who has the land” as the Queen of England. “Marriage” to her is then an analogy for joining the army in an attempt to escape from poverty. His gift of the three-diamond ring, representing past, present and future, suggests that he married, or at least became engaged to, his poor deluded (and perhaps pregnant) lover before signing up. 



7 A Brisk Young Widow 
Traditional (Roud 2438) 

With Anahata, one-row melodeon. 
The only known example of this song in the oral tradition was collected by Cecil Sharp from George Radford at Bridgwater Union Workhouse, Somerset, on 22 August 1905. Mr Radford was 76 at the time, and died less than a year later. According to Maud Karpeles he told Sharp that his father, Job Radford, had been a great singer but that this was the only song he had managed to learn from him. It came to me through the singing of the late, lamented Royston Wood. 


8 The Valiant Sailor 
Traditional (Roud 811) 

With me double-tracked on the refrains. 
I learned this song from Roy Palmer's Oxford Book Of Sea Songs (1986) long before first hearing George “Pop” Maynard singing Polly On The Shore, which it closely resembles. Palmer took the text of The Valiant Sailor from John Ashton's Real Sailor-Songs (1891) and collated it with a related song, Lord Carter Is My Name, which was collected by George Butterworth from Mrs Cranstone of Billingshurst, Sussex, in July 1909 and published in the Journal of the Folk Song Society Volume 4 (1913). 


9 When Fishes Fly 
Traditional (Roud 1403) 

Words: Traditional (Roud 1403) arranged by Mary Humphreys 
Tune: Traditional arranged by Mary Humphreys and Anahata 
With Mary Humphreys, banjo, and Anahata, 'cello. 
Mary brought this song to life by combining and adapting traditional material from various published sources. The tune is mostly as collected by Cecil Sharp from Lucy White at Hambridge, Somerset in April 1904. The text is a combination of Lucy White's and versions from Emma Overd of Langport, Somerset (Cecil Sharp, August 1904) and Everett Bennett of St Paul's, Newfoundland (Kenneth Peacock, August 1958). There are several earlier broadside versions in the Bodleian Library, mostly under the title No, My Love, Not I. The Common Rue (Ruta graveolens), a symbol of regret in folklore, has herbal properties relating to abortion that would have been well known to country women of Lucy White's generation. 
It is a sign of a true friend that Mary has allowed me to make some slight modifications to her carefully crafted text in order to suit my interpretation of the song. 


10 Annan Water 
Traditional (Roud 6562) 

Words: Traditional (Roud 6562) arranged by Nic Jones 
Tune: Traditional arranged and extended by Nic Jones 
With Mary and Anahata singing harmonies in the chorus. In l969 Nic Jones found Annan Water in Volume IV of Child's English and Scottish Popular Ballads, included as an Appendix to number 215, "Rare Willie Drowned in Yarrow, or, The Water o Gamrie". Child had taken this text of fourteen four-line stanzas from Scott's Minstrelsy Of The Scottish Borders (1802). Neither publication included a tune. In a masterpiece of contraction, Nic selected eight stanzas and grouped them in pairs, slightly modified and anglicized, with the original final stanza following each pair as a chorus. For a tune he took the first part of an English song called The Brisk Young Lively Lad, collected in Surrey by Lucy Broadwood and published in the Journal of the Folk Song Society Volume 1 (1900), which he extended to suit his eight-line stanza format. The result is nothing short of pure genius. 


11 The Slave's Lament 
Words:Robert Burns (attrib.) Tune: Traditional 

With Mary Humphreys, English concertina. 
I am grateful to my good friend Sylvia Watts for introducing me to this song. The Slave's Lament was published anonymously in the fourth volume of The Scots Musical Museum (Edinburgh, 1792), an extensive collection of Scottish folk songs to which Robert Burns was an enthusiastic contributor. It is known that Burns was responsible for its inclusion and it is likely that he composed the text himself, though it resembles an earlier blackletter broadside entitled The Trapann'd Maid. 
I think it's interesting to note that in 1792 Burns met and befriended Dr James Currie. As an impressionable young man, Currie had spent five years in Virginia during the social turmoil that led to the American War of Independence. He would have been no stranger to the condition of slaves there and his tales may have provided the inspiration for this haunting lament. 



12 The Ploughman's Love 
Traditional (Roud 2636) 

I first heard Nic Jones perform an enigmatic three-stanza version of this song almost thirty years ago. In search of more, I traced Nic's text and tune to a version collected by the Hammond brothers from a Mrs Notley of Higher Woodsford, Dorset in January 1907. It was published that year in Volume 3 of the Journal of the Folk Song Society under the title The Flandyke Shore. Cecil Sharp had collected a similar four-stanza version from Mrs Betsy Pike in Somerset the previous year. Both can be seen in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at Cecil Sharp House. They are clearly fragments from a longer ballad, and the search for a more complete version occupied me off-and-on for many years. 
Eventually I came upon a chapbook text that was included in the Appendix to Volume 2 of Andrew Crawfurd's Collection Of Ballads And Songs (ed. Emily Lyle, 1996) as an English counterpart to the Scots dialect song The Flanders Shore. Printed and distributed by J. & M. Robertson of Saltmarket, Glasgow, in 1802 under the title The Ploughman's Love to the Farmer's Daughter, it contains all of the fragments that were collected by Hammond and Sharp more than a century later. I have adjusted Mrs Notley's tune only slightly to fit the Robertson text. 


13 The Victory 
Traditional (Roud 2278) 

Words: Traditional (Roud 2278). Tune: Nic Jones © Mollie Music 
With Mary Humphreys, banjo, and Anahata, anglo concertina. 
Yet another song that I owe to Nic. The text comes from a ballad sheet in the Harding collection at the Bodleian Library that was printed by John Harkness of Preston between 1840 and 1866. 
According to Nic, the tune was composed in the “Halliard” days sometime between 1966 and 1967. I adjusted it a little to suit my interpretation of the text and then tweaked the text to suit the modified tune. Hey ho! 
The Bold Dragoon
The Bold Dragoon is based on the song collected by Bob Copper in July 1955 from Enos White of Axford
Pride Of The Season
Kenneth Peacock collected this song from Mrs Freeman Bennett of St Paul's
Sample not available
The Isle Of France
With Mary Humphreys
The Rambling Blade
Learned from the singing of Walter Pardon as recorded by Bill Leader at Walter's home in Knapton
Sample not available
Suit Of Grey
With Mary Humphreys
Sample not available
The Deluded Lover
Collected by Paddy Tunney from his mother Brigid Tunney in Belleek
Sample not available
A Brisk Young Widow
With Anahata
Sample not available
The Valiant Sailor
With me double-tracked on the refrains. <br>I learned this song from Roy Palmer's Oxford Book Of Sea Songs (1986) long before first hearing George “Pop” Maynard singing Polly On The Shore
Sample not available
When Fishes Fly
Words: Traditional (Roud 1403) arranged by Mary Humphreys <br>Tune: Traditional arranged by Mary Humphreys and Anahata <br>With Mary Humphreys
Sample not available
Annan Water
Words: Traditional (Roud 6562) arranged by Nic Jones <br>Tune: Traditional arranged and extended by Nic Jones <br>With Mary and Anahata singing harmonies in the chorus. In l969 Nic Jones found Annan Water in Volume IV of Child's English and Scottish Popular Ballads
The Slave's Lament
With Mary Humphreys
Sample not available
The Ploughman's Love
I first heard Nic Jones perform an enigmatic three-stanza version of this song almost thirty years ago. In search of more
Sample not available
The Victory
Words: Traditional (Roud 2278). Tune: Nic Jones © Mollie Music <br>With Mary Humphreys
Sample not available

Traditions at the Tiger

Dave Sutherland

Towards the back of the sleeve booklet accompanying this album there are a few notes about Jack Crawford informing us where he now lives, to whom the recording is dedicated, his status within the main body of the EFDSS and that he is a resident singer at Long Eaton's Traditions at the Tiger folk club.  So how does one go about reviewing an album by a fellow resident? In this case it is quite easy as whether it had been made by a close friend or had it just dropped through the letterbox I would say the same thing; that it is, by any standards a superb effort!

Released on the prestigious WildGoose label it has been in excess of forty years for Jack to make his maiden recording and it has been worth the wait. As expected from such a dedicated and uncompromising singer of traditional folk songs it is exactly that which makes up the bulk of the album; in fact there is only one contemporary song present and that is Cyril Tawney's �Suit of Grey� a lesser known item from the vast output of that fine songwriter. Otherwise it is a collection of substantial traditional songs ranging from the reasonably well known �The Bold Dragoon�, �The Isle of France�, �Annan Water� and �A Brisk Young Widow� to versions of  �The Ploughman's Love�, �The Valiant Sailor� and �The Deluded Lover� which you might have heard previously in a folk club but not quite in this form.

While much of the CD features Jack in solo mode there is the inspired inclusion of Mary Humphreys and Anahata providing accompaniment on certain tracks, none more so than on Mary's own arrangement of �When Fishes Fly� making it one of the standout songs in the collection.

In the notes Jack talks at length about his passion for researching songs and the history that surrounds them and this is well evident as each song is carefully and informatively documented. However as well as acknowledging the song's source or source singer it is endearing that he pays tribute to the contribution of a number of revival singers, Heather Wood, Peter Bellamy, Nic Jones and mentions to the memories of Royston Wood and Sid Long.

A cert for my top five come December (that five are becoming a most eclectic collection) and undoubtedly one that should feature highly in the opinions of those who are serious about preservation and promotion of traditional folksong. It also shows how fortunate we are to have Jack as a resident at TATT.

Folk Radio UK

This new release from Jack Crawford on the Wildgoose label is an absolute gem.  Every track has an incredibly deep rooted authenticity.  Jack has been singing in folk clubs for 40 years and although he normally sings unaccompanied some of the tracks are accompanied which provides the album with a nice tonal variety.  It was a real pleasure to listen to.

Whats Afoot

Colin Andrews

For traditional songs simply and sympathetically delivered in a rich, clear, unaffected voice, one would have to rate Jack Crawford as one of the best, judging from his performance on this CD. Normally he sings unaccompanied but he is joined on some tracks by his friends Mary Humphreys and Anahata, who provide vocal & instrumental backing with melodeon, concertina, cello, and banjo.

Don't expect anything in the way of bawdy, jolly chorus songs, for Jack clearly has a preference for slower paced ballads and songs. Each one is a joy to listen to, but it does give the CD a rather low-key feel overall, with little contrast. This should not be regarded as a criticism, but rather a caution to anyone who likes their folk song with attitude.

It's quite appropriate that Mary Humphreys has worked with Jack on this album for they both come over as singers who genuinely have a feel for their material and enjoyment in singing. When Fishes Fly , for example, features in both their repertoires. Since Nic Jones made Annan Water popular years ago, many singers have been attracted to it, and Jack treats it respectfully. The Slave's Lament (words attributed to Roberts Burns) stands out, with haunting words & tune.

Jack hails from Derbyshire, where he is a resident at a folk club in Long Eaton. After many years of Morris, as a fool & musician, he has refocussed on his first interest as a singer and researcher. He is a member of the National Executive of EFDSS.        

Mardles

Colin Cater

Tremendous. On the evidence of this album, Doug Bailey at WildGoose has discovered a new star in the folk firmament. In an age in which new talent is all too frequently female, breathy and short on life experience with which to interpret songs, Jack's dark brown mellifluity, often echoing the more reflective side of Cyril Tawney is a joy.

Supported by Mary and Anahata on some tracks, he is simply a brilliant interpreter of melody, able to draw out the most delicate nuances of tunes and vary interpretation to fit the subtlest scansion of words. Listen particularly to Suit of Grey and Valiant Sailor, a gorgeous version of Polly on the Shore. Neither does his singing lack strength as Bold Dragoon, Annan Water and several others show clearly.

You'll have to listen, mind you and be prepared to ride a slow wagon, but that's all right in these hasty days, innit? You also need to throw away any delusions about the unlettered working classness of folk songs - the poet's touch is very evident in many of these offerings. My only qualm came listening to When Fishes Fly, a nasty little song dressed up in a pretty coat that perhaps Jack might have interpreted with a bit more edge.

Jack Crawford has been round the folk scene for a long time, playing with Jabberwocky and Plum Jerkum and illuminating the singarounds without being noticed by festival organisers. Hopefully this will now change and next summer he will be seen in the more reflective parts of a number of festivals. King gooden.

Taplas

Microviews

Derbyshire's Jack Crawford, a fluent and descriptive singer, puts his good qualities to use in twelve traditional songs and one other, Cyril Tawney's lovely but little heard Suit of Grey. Unaccompanied or backed by Mary Humphries and Anahata, he does full justice to songs like The Bold Dragoon and Annan Water. The Slaves Lament is a standout track.

Shreds and Patches - Issue 45

Chris �Yorkie� Bartram

Originally from Lincolnshire and now living in Derbyshire, Jack Crawford is a terrific singer of traditional songs. He is also a very knowledgeable and astute researcher; member of the National Council of the EFDSS and a trustee of the Ralph Vaughan-Williams Library. He sings unaccompanied usually but is joined on some tracks here by Mary Humphreys and Anahata, who provide some lovely vocal and instrumental accompaniments. He has put together a wonderful set of twelve traditional songs plus Cyril Tawney's little-heard gem The Suit Of Grey.

In fact, Jack owes more than a little to the late Mr Tawney. His vocal style reminds me quite a lot of Cyril � including a hint of Devon accent at times! He has a similar warm and melodious voice with a nasal tone and vibrato that reminds me of the style of singing that many people adopted in the 1970s. So it is no surprise to read that Jack has been singing regularly in folk clubs and sessions for 40 years (though, until recently, he has concentrated more on the Morris, dancing and playing). And he has clearly spent a lot of time and thought researching songs. His sleeve-notes demonstrate the care and passion he puts into his songs, delineating not only their sources but also the influence of subsequent interpreters. They are a model of careful and informative documentation. Oh, how I wish others might follow his example!

Jack seems to prefer slower paced, rather downbeat and poetic songs so, although there are a couple of quite jolly tracks, the overall feel of the CD is rather restrained. I think this might be partly an artefact of the recording process too. I know from personal experience that, singing in a studio without an audience, it is difficult to really open up so it is not surprising that the dynamics are not quite what you might hear from Jack in sessions. However, this is a relative matter � compared to many CDs I've heard recently, this one is truly thrilling.

Very highly recommended.


Folk Roundabout

David Kidman

Derbyshire-based Jack, a highly-regarded resident singer at the Traditions At The Tiger folk club in Long Eaton, has at long last produced his first CD for WildGoose. It contains 12 songs drawn from the tradition (mostly, but not exclusively, English in origin), plus one modern-day composition (well, 1960!). Although Jack normally sings solo and unaccompanied, he does so on only six of the disc's thirteen tracks: on the remainder he's blessed with ultra-respectful though singularly characterful instrumental accompaniment from the excellent Mary Humphreys and Anahata. Jack's singing style is assured and confident, with an unerring sense of exactly where the melody and words are going. Effective control of line is achieved partly through a gentle moulding of the occasional decoration within the line and a tempered use of vibrato; there's a hint of Martyn Wyndham-Read about Jack's delivery, not least in the seemingly effortless control of pitch and melodic flow, where Mick Ryan is also brought to mind at times. Either way, Jack's delivery is by and large, measured, yet involving and carefully passionate, and this kind of accomplished performance cannot fail to attract the aficionado of the traditional song idiom. Jack's account of The Deluded Lover (an ambiguous song collected by Paddy Tunney) is intensely felt, indeed very impressive, and contrasts well with his able rendition of the altogether livelier A Brisk Young Widow (complete with the dancing clicking keys of Anahata's melodeon!). His version of The Valiant Sailor is also taken at an ideal pace for us to reflect on the unfolding history (a unique feature of this song, incidentally, is Jack's double-tracking of his own voice for the refrains, which proves an effective one-off device). Yet for all Jack's skill with traditional material, one of the finest performances on the whole disc is of Cyril Tawney's Suit Of Grey, with lyrical English concertina and brooding cello forming an effective and unusual backdrop. A similar mood is well conveyed by Jack on The Slave's Lament, while his version of Annan Water makes a strong case for the Nic Jones �adaptation and extension� of this oft-modified tale, and he repays the favour granted by Mary by presenting his personal take on Mary's own adaptation of When Fishes Fly (aka Rue or No Me Love Not I). Overall, the disc is certainly representative of Jack's repertoire, but if I have any slight criticism it's that there's probably insufficient contrast in tempo and mood for the more general listener to readily warm to the disc as a whole. However, for me � and doubtless for other aficionados of accomplished traditional-style performance � this disc scores heavily and thus I can highly recommend it. Pride Of The Season is (typically for WildGoose) an aptly-chosen title for this attractively-packaged disc.



EDS (EFDSS)

Jacqueline Patten

With the encouragement and guidance of Doug Bailey at WildGoose, the number of performers who have become known to a wider listening audience over the past few years is significant. Pride of the Season is another gem on the Wild Goose label; Jack Crawford another singer who will delight that audience. With his usual insight, Doug recommended that Jack should be joined by instrumentalists; thus on some of the tracks, Jack is accompanied by Mary Humphreys on English concertina or banjo, and Anahata on cello, Anglo?concertina or melodeon.

The album comprises thirteen songs rooted in the English folk tradition, although some are now more often found in Scotland, Ireland and Newfoundland. Only one of the thirteen was written relatively recently (1960), 'Suit of Grey' by Cyril Tawney. The songs that Jack chose for the album could loosely be called narrative broadside ballads. Broadside ballads performed much the same function as the tabloid press today: here are tales of an attempted killing ('The Bold Dragoon'), premarital sex ('The Pride of the Season'), requited and unrequited love ('A Brisk Young Widow'), shipwreck, death, execution and other lurid tales bound to arouse interest. Reading the sleeve notes it is obvious how much the stories told, and sentiments expressed, matter to Jack. His love of the subjects as well as joy in the songs, shines through.

Jack first started singing in folk clubs more than forty years ago; his focus is song research and performance. No doubt the experience gained over the years contributes much to the fact that he gives a commanding, clear delivery. His voice is resonant and 'tunefully' strong, while he lays emphasis on the words of the ballad. He acknowledges Doug Bailey's inspired suggestion that some of the songs should be accompanied, at the same time as acknowledging that it was a challenge which took him outside his comfort zone. Comfortable or not, he deserves to be delighted with the result.

Sing Out

Chris Nickson

Derbyshire singer Crawford has been performing, as both a singer and dancer, for a long time, but this is his recording debut, and the Derbyshire man is a real find, a performer who has power, emotion, technique and scholarship in his arsenal. Although several of the pieces follow on from songs heard from the great Nic Jones, everything Crawford touches on this disc he makes his own, and he's researched them all carefully. Accustomed to singing unaccompanied, he gets ample chance to shine that way, but there's also sparing backing on several cuts, which certainly brings extra texture to the proceedings. A fair bit of the material is pretty much unknown, such as "A Brisk Young Widow," and some is absolutely gorgeous, like "When Fishes Fly" (although the hardhearted tale makes for tough listening). Most of the songs are English, with a deep history, but Scotland, Ireland and even Newfoundland are represented, although, as Crawford notes, "most would comfortably withstand being called English." Kudos to Crawford, who's a magnetic talent, and also to the subtle accompanists, who do a sterling job of underpinning and adding to the material without drawing attention away from Crawford himself. This is a man who deserves to be widely heard and lauded.

Living Tradition - Issue 82

Geordie McIntyre

Jack Crawford is a veteran and valued resident of the long established

Traditions at the Tiger Club, Long Eaton, Derbyshire.  His long experience

is mirrored in his no nonsense, solid, intimate and confident delivery.  He

is immersed in what he does with a total respect for the essence of a song.

He is a low-key, highly effective story-teller-singer.  Jack normally sings

solo and unaccompanied - which, until now, is what I was familiar with.

However, here he is joined on certain tracks by Mary Humphries and Anahata

who provide sensitive and enhancing support on, as deemed appropriate,

concertina, banjo, melodeon and cello.  This creative and dynamic

collaboration has proved to be a wise and fruitful choice, which Jack

acknowledges in his detailed and scholarly liner notes.

Most of the songs, like Jack, are firmly rooted in the English tradition and drawn from a wide range of oral and printed sources.  Highlights for me

were: a spirited Brisk Young Widow, a delightful When Fishes Fly and a fine

Suit of Grey a lesser known song written by Cyril Tawney in 1960.  Jack has included a song from Newfoundland, Scotland and Ireland respectively.  From

the pen of Robert Burns we have The Slave's Lament frankly the song itself

is not a favourite of mine, nevertheless Jack makes as good a job of it as anyone I've heard.  His The Deluded Lover from Brigid Tunney of Co.

Fermanagh is quite brilliant.  This is a quality album from an uncompromising singer of substance.


fRoots - March 2009 #309

Vic Smith

Jack is from the Midlands and has been associated with folk clubs and Morris

dance for 40 years.  This selection taken from his extensive repertoire has

a lot going for it.  The songs, drawn from the British tradition, have been

carefully selected and well researched and it is clear that they have been

meticulously prepared for this recording.  Jack's voice draws a pleasant response from the listener.  His singing is sure and with his delicate use of decorations, vibrato and adornments, it is clear that he is relishing each performance.

In folk clubs, Jack is heard singing unaccompanied, but here he chooses to

sing some to backing by Anahata and Mary Humphries and as might be expected

they make a supportive and unobtrusive job of it.  The man is a member of

the National Council of the EFDSS and a trustee of the Vaughan Williams

Memorial Library and the song notes reflect his authoritative status on

traditional song.

In a few cases, it is possible to compare his performances with recordings

of his sources, with Paddy Tunney and Walter Pardon, for example.  In these

cases, it is clear that Jack delivers the song more slowly than his source

and this raises the only problem with the album: its pace.  His delivery of

A Brisk Young Widow, though much slower than most, might be described as

mid-tempo.  Everything else is sung at what might be called a very relaxed

speed, sometimes the pace slows as the song unfolds, as Jack savours and

holds a sequence of notes in his admittedly beautiful voice.


Dirty Linen USA

Duck Baker (Reading, England)

The performers featured on these releases were all young when the folk boom was upon us, but all have had other careers and demands on their time that haven't left much time for performing until recently.  Now they are making up for lost time with these commendable releases for a label that has become possibly the champion of recording traditional English music.

Jack Crawford's Pride of the Season is perhaps the most traditional of these titles in tone, if only because he's a solo singer. Minimal backing is provided on about half of the tracks, and only hard-core listeners will know many of the songs chosen.  For instance, Crawford covers Nic Jones' brilliantly reconstructed �Annan Water� and does quite a nice job with it, but the same singer's version of  �The Ploughman's Love� started Crawford on a long search for the fuller version provided here. Resisting the temptation to overproduction, label chief Doug Bailey has organized accompaniment that brings out the best both from Crawford and his material.

As its title suggests, Dusty Diamonds presents songs (or at least variants that have not been sung often at all. In fact, several seem never to have been recorded before. Martin Graebe has a special feeling for the songs collected by Sabine Baring-Gould, and this material dominates here, though the program also includes a couple of very traditional-sounding songs penned by Graebe himself. Again, accompaniment is minimal, limited to concertina and two fiddles, which are seldom all heard together. Shan Graebe's vocals, like her husband's, are free of affectation, true in pitch, and pleasing in tone. The Graebes don't mind using harmonizations that are not at all by-the-book, which is all as it should be. Better living interpretations than lifeless attempts at �correctness.�

Beyond the Quay is Tom and Barbara Brown's fourth release on Wild Goose, and it's dedicated to songs with seafaring themes. This is a not a sea chanty record, but a collection of ballads, fishermen's ditties, and Navy songs of various kinds. Both Browns are engaging singers and, again, where there is accompaniment, it's tasteful and effective. This record succeeds largely on the strength of a program that holds together particularly well.  A central theme helps (though it's just as easy to wear the listener out with this approach as it is to help the cause), but the songs themselves are all excellent vehicles, and they complement one another beautifully.

Folk Northwest

Derek Gifford

Jack Crawford is not a well known 'name' in the folk world by any means although I'm sure that the Traditions at the Tiger Folk Club in Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire  regard him as one of their strongest residents.

Jack is one of the unsung heroes of our traditional folk club circuit whose enthusiasm and diligence into researching and singing traditional songs is well represented in this recording from the Wild Goose stable.

Many of the songs will be familiar to audiences who follow the English tradition including versions of A Brisk Young Widow, The Valiant Sailor and Annan Water.

Jack, however, has delved deeper into the archives to sing us versions of The Bold Dragoon, The Isle of France and The Deluded Lover.

The only contemporary song featured is Cyril Tawney's Suit of Grey although Jack uses Nick Jones's tunes and arrangements on a few tracks, notably The Victory from the Harkness archives from here in the North West at Preston.

Although primarily an unaccompanied singer Jack has been persuaded to employ Mary Humphries and Anahata to accompany him on a number of songs which include their arrangements. Of these When Fishes Fly is an excellent example of their three-way partnership in the music.

Jack's singing style is typically traditional but natural and clear without the 'finger in the ear' connotations that so often plague singers of this genre.

This CD can be regarded as both a work of reference as well as a pleasure to listen to, preferably in small doses due to the concentration of the material.

As with virtually all Wild Goose recordings the sleeve notes are comprehensive, and, in this case, very self-effacing in terms of Jack's personal comments. One for the enthusiasts rather than for general appeal but none the worse for that. Available from Wild Goose or Jack at his home club.