Songs from the Past Into the Future

by Derek Gifford

Derek has been singing for over 35 years and is well known as an excellent solo performer throughout the U.K.

Some of the songs on the album are unaccompanied but most are accompanied by Derek on guitar or bowed psaltery with the support of concertina, cello, fiddle and oboe. Chorus songs are one of Derek's specialities and the album has some great chorus singing.

Apart from his love of folk song Derek is also a keen conservationist and many of the songs on this album reflect these interests giving it a strong 'green' theme.



Derek Gifford - guitar, bowed psaltery, vocals

Doug Bailey - vocals

Tom and Barbara Brown - vocals

Janet Hale - vocals

Keith Kendrick - concertinas, vocals

Gill Redmond - cello

Paul Sartin - oboe, fiddle

Anna Shannon - shruti box, vocals

Derek has been singing for over 30 years and over that time has released several albums including ones with the shanty group Three Sheets. Giff has many interests but two of the stongest are ‘birding’ and his interest in ecology. If this album has a theme it is the environment and a concern for many lost aspects of a greener economy. Many of the songs reflect this but some are just good songs.  Derek has set a number of Bury poet Keith Scowcroft's poems to music including 'When All Men Sing' which is fast becoming a folk song 'standard' across the world.

Whether accompanying himself on guitar or bowed psaltery or singing unaccompanied Derek's enthusiasm becomes contagious and chorus songs are a speciality in his performances. They are reflected here on this album supported by some great chorus singing.

1 Land and Sea 
Richard Grainger 
Best described as an environmental song, this is Richard's angle on the depredations of human kind. Just my thing! 

2 Ellis Island 
Brendan Graham 
I first came across this song when I was doing some work with a choir in a local school. Ellis Island is situated in Upper New York Bay near Liberty island. It was the United States' busiest immigrant inspection station and the gateway for millions of immigrants from 1892 until 1954 - not 1943 as the song unfortunately wrongly states. This song encapsulates the atmosphere through the eyes of a fifteen year old. 

3 Do You remember? 
Rod Shearman 
Similar in sentiment to Richard Grainger's song this is another more comprehensive view of the planet's demise from the late Rod Shearman. Considering he wrote it over 25 years ago we still don't seem to have learned the lessons of human folly. 

4 Songs They Used to Sing 
Mike Bartram 
Written by my friend Mike Bartram who is a resident at the long standing Wooden Horse Folk Club here in Lancashire. It says it all in terms of what we're about in the chorus singing folk world. 

5 The Cocklers' Song 
Alan Bell/ Tamlyn Music 
Alan Bell wrote this song following the disaster at Morecambe Bay in 2007. He was inspired by the fact that the poor Chinese labourers were actually on their mobile phones to their loved one's as they drowned which is acknowledged in the chorus. 

6 Five Pounds 
Les Sullivan 
the press gangs strike again! A fine song of cunning too. Thanks to Les Sullivan we shanty and sea song performers have another good song to add to our repertoire. 

7 Farewell to the Brine 
Pete Coe/Backshift Music 
I first met Pete in the late 1960s at the Drover's Arms Folk Club in Birmingham. We've been trading friendly insults ever since! He has written some great songs over the years but this one is one of his early ones. This song is about his home town of Northwich, Cheshire. It fits the bowed psaltery like a glove and I bet Pete wishes I'd play it with one instead of a bow! 

8 Dives and Lazarus 
Traditional 
this was one of my early additions to my traditional repertoire which I learned from the singing of The Young Tradition. The simple moral of this tale of course is that if you're rich you'll go to hell and if you're poor you'll go to heaven - so we're all right! 

9 Spirit of the Sea 
Malcolm Gibbons 
As soon as I heard Malc' sing this at our local session I knew it was one I had to learn. He dedicates it to the RNLI and this dedication features in the lyrics in the last verse. 

10 For The Day 
Steve Ritchie 
Steve Ritchie was one of the members of Tanglefoot a superb, unfortunately now disbanded, group from Canada. He wrote this for people who are reasonably comfortable in life and who have the good fortune to be able to keep it that way. 

11 Bold Fisherman 
Traditional 
this is one of the first and finest English traditional songs I ever learnt and it has stood the test of time. Some say this song is the story of the marriage of Christ. This version was collected by Lucy Broadwood from a Mrs. Joiner of Chisnell Green, Hertfordshire in 1914. 

12 Early One Evening 
Miles Wootton 
this is a somewhat dated parody of 'Early One Morning' but I believe that there are still a few pub's in existence like the one in the song . A moment of light-heartedness. 

13 Nantucket Sleighride 
Bob Watson 
this was the name given to the process of the harpoon boat being dragged through the water by a whale after it had been harpooned. Nantucket was a major whaling station on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Bob Watson's fine song relates this and brings it up to date with a strong conservation message. 

14 Coming in Further 
Brian Hooper 
A more humorous look at the state of the environment from one of Southampton's Fo’c’sle Folk Club's residents. Since learning it I now spend a lot of time looking for 'air miles' on supermarket shelves and so should you! 
Land and Sea
Best described as an environmental song
Ellis Island
I first came across this song when I was doing some work with a choir in a local school. Ellis Island is situated in Upper New York Bay near Liberty island. It was the United States' busiest immigrant inspection station and the gateway for millions of immigrants from 1892 until 1954 - not 1943 as the song unfortunately wrongly states. This song encapsulates the atmosphere through the eyes of a fifteen year old.
Do You remember?
Similar in sentiment to Richard Grainger's song this is another more comprehensive view of the planet's demise from the late Rod Shearman. Considering he wrote it over 25 years ago we still don't seem to have learned the lessons of human folly.
Sample not available
Songs They Used to Sing
Written by my friend Mike Bartram who is a resident at the long standing Wooden Horse Folk Club here in Lancashire. It says it all in terms of what we're about in the chorus singing folk world.
Sample not available
The Cocklers' Song
Alan Bell wrote this song following the disaster at Morecambe Bay in 2007. He was inspired by the fact that the poor Chinese labourers were actually on their mobile phones to their loved one's as they drowned which is acknowledged in the chorus.
Sample not available
Five Pounds
the press gangs strike again! A fine song of cunning too. Thanks to Les Sullivan we shanty and sea song performers have another good song to add to our repertoire.
Sample not available
Farewell to the Brine
I first met Pete in the late 1960s at the Drover's Arms Folk Club in Birmingham. We've been trading friendly insults ever since! He has written some great songs over the years but this one is one of his early ones. This song is about his home town of Northwich
Sample not available
Dives and Lazarus
this was one of my early additions to my traditional repertoire which I learned from the singing of The Young Tradition. The simple moral of this tale of course is that if you're rich you'll go to hell and if you're poor you'll go to heaven - so we're all right!
Sample not available
Spirit of the Sea
As soon as I heard Malc' sing this at our local session I knew it was one I had to learn. He dedicates it to the RNLI and this dedication features in the lyrics in the last verse.
Sample not available
For The Day
Steve Ritchie was one of the members of Tanglefoot a superb
Sample not available
Bold Fisherman
this is one of the first and finest English traditional songs I ever learnt and it has stood the test of time. Some say this song is the story of the marriage of Christ. This version was collected by Lucy Broadwood from a Mrs. Joiner of Chisnell Green
Sample not available
Early One Evening
this is a somewhat dated parody of 'Early One Morning' but I believe that there are still a few pub's in existence like the one in the song . A moment of light-heartedness.
Sample not available
Nantucket Sleighride
this was the name given to the process of the harpoon boat being dragged through the water by a whale after it had been harpooned. Nantucket was a major whaling station on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Bob Watson's fine song relates this and brings it up to date with a strong conservation message.
Coming in Further
A more humorous look at the state of the environment from one of Southampton's Fo’c’sle Folk Club's residents. Since learning it I now spend a lot of time looking for 'air miles' on supermarket shelves and so should you!

Folk Northwest

Clive Pownceby

A durable singer, our local hero presents his 9th solo album, featuring largely though not exclusively material from fellow northern writers with a couple of trad.arr.items  'The Bold Fisherman' and 'Dives And Lazarus.' Traditional song first got it hooks into Derek in the late '60s at the Black Diamond Folk Club when it was based at the Drovers Arms in Birmingham but most of us would've encountered him once he moved to Lancashire in 1970. That early musical diet, especially of chorus songs and harmonies has stood him in good stead and when added to his communication skills as an educator has always ensured that a Giff gig is an effortless, involving event.

This excellent 14 song set, his debut for the acclaimed Wildgoose imprint opens with Richard Grainger's 'Land And Sea'   as potent an articulation of our abuse of planet earth ("the land and people bear the scars while profits are passed on') as you'll hear.

The theme of conservation runs through several other items too   the late Rod Shearman's 'Do You Remember?'and an early song by Pete Coe  'Farewell To The Brine' where Derek's ethereal bowed psaltery adds to the air of defeated wisdom when the 'was it worth it?' effects of salt mining around Northwich are evaluated.

Alan Bell's rueful 'Cocklers' Song' about the Morecambe Bay tragedy is given a thoughtful, poignant reading and the chilling event remains a continuing reminder of accidents waiting to happen.

The music throughout with Giffs guitar backed up by Keith Kendrick's concertina, Paul Sartin on oboe and fiddle with Gill Redmond's rich cello and vocal support from Tom & Barbara Brown, Anna Shannon, Janet Hale and label boss Doug Bailey is powerful though mellow, lending texture and depth to the proceedings.

Few recent albums have felt quite so enjoyable and I'd commend this uncluttered release to you as a counterpoint to the hi gloss artifice of so much of what passes for 'folk' in these times. This is assured, compelling and above all honest music.

Fatea

David Kidman

Derek's a folk circuit stalwart with some 35 years' singing experience, a highly-regarded solo performer as well as a member of shanty group Three Sheets To The Wind (with Keith Kendrick and Geoff Higginbottom). Giff was unquestionably a key figure in my own discovery of chorus songs and the joys of chorus singing indeed! His glorious, rousing setting of Keith Scowcroft's poem When All Men Sing is nothing short of iconic, and has become a true cornerstone of the folk repertoire. But let's not forget also Giff's enthusiastic espousal of all manner of folk songs, and his eager exposure of local songwriting talents, both of which aspects sit so very comfortably alongside his own not inconsiderable performance skills, and are well to the fore in this latest collection. As a singer, Giff's relaxed and confident style is perennially winning, while he can also boast a significant (if humble) degree of accomplishment as a guitarist.

This latest "giffering" (his sixth album) continues the approved tradition which he's made a speciality - combining the pick of contemporary folk songs with percipient and satisfying takes on traditional material. The latter category is here represented by a nicely turned Bold Fisherman (which sports a superb cello counterpoint from Gill Redmond) and a simple but effective a cappella account of Dives And Lazarus (which like many of us he learned from the singing of The Young Tradition). Pick of the remainder I would judge Songs They Used To Sing by Mike Bartram (a canny chorus-song-for-well-versed-chorus-singers), Richard Grainger's thought-provoking opus Land And Sea (which contains some lovely lyrical oboe playing from Paul Sartin), Les Sullivan's lively press-gang saga Five Pounds, and Pete Coe's atmospheric early composition Farewell To The Brine (eerily accompanied by bowed psaltery and shruti box). Other powerful contributions come from the pens of Alan Bell (The Cocklers' Song) and the late Rod Shearman (Do You Remember?), but each of Giff's chosen songs has much to offer and no individual track is "skippable". While for those who already know and appreciate Giff's companionable stage presence, the disc's quotient of straightforward folky humour comes in the shape of Miles Wootton's priceless (and still mightily relevant) parody Early One Evening (retold with relish aplenty!) and Brian Hooper's environmental commentary Coming In Further.

Giff's standing in the folk world is paid tribute by the ready recruitment of fine guest artists: singers including Tom & Barbara Brown and Anna Shannon and instrumentalists comprising those mentioned in dispatches above plus the estimable Keith Kendrick. All adding up to a well-coordinated, friendly and accessible (and sympathetically recorded) release that will give considerable pleasure.

EFDSS

Baz Parkes

It's easy to forget that, in these days of psych-folk, nu-folk, alt-folk and no-folk, there exists a hard core of singers and musicians who are perfectly happy to sing songs, play tunes or perhaps combine the two in a simple, unadorned and effective manner. Just such a one is Derek Gifford.  

This CD features a mixture of traditional and newly-penned songs, both accompanied and a cappella. Of the former, representing Trad. Arr., we have fine versions of 'Dives and Lazarus' and 'Bold Fisherman', the latter featuring a lovely cello accompaniment from Gill Redmond.  Of the newly (newness of course, being relative) penned, Pete Coe's 'Farewell to the Brine', featuring Derek on bowed psaltery is a high point. Not far behind is Mike Bartram's 'Songs They Used to Sing' which, as Derek writes 'says it all in terms of what we're about in the chorus singing folk world'. In these days of gastro pubs and micro-breweries, Miles Wootton's 'Early One Evening' is undoubtedly less relevant than it once was, but it's still capable of raising a wry smile.  

Mr Gifford is ably supported by some well-known voices, including Keith Kendrick, Tom and Barbara Brown and Doug Bailey, all heard to particularly fine effect on Les Sullivan's 'Five Pounds'. Mr Kendrick also adds some nifty concertina to 'Nantucket Sleighride'. Add to the mix occasional oboe and violin from Paul Sartin, and this is a very pleasant listen indeed.

Around Kent Folk

Kathy & Bob Drage

Derek has been singing for over 35 years and is well known as an excellent singer throughout the UK and abroad. His first encounter with traditional songs was in the late 60's and 'Dives and Lazarus' and 'The Bold Fisherman' are fine examples. A number of songs are from known songwriters like Pete Coe's 'Farewell to the Brine' with Anna Shannon on shrutu box. Environmental songs 'Do You Remember'   Rod Sherman and Richard Grainger's 'Land and Sea'. Alan Bell's heartfelt song about the 2007 Morecambe Bay disaster .'The Cocklers Song'. 'Spirit of the Sea'   Malcolm Gibbons is dedicated to the RNLI and Bob Watson's 'Nantucket Sleighride'   brings whale harpooning up to date with a strong conservation message.

Derek is known for chorus and shanty songs and Mike Bartram's 'Songs They Used to Sing' and Les Sullivan's 'Five Rounds' reflect this. There is humour with Miles Wootten's 'Early One Morning' and 'Coming In Further'  Brian Hooper. Derek's superb guitar and bowed psaltery is supported by Keith Kendrick on concertina, Paul Sartin fiddle and oboe and Gill Redmond cello.

Relaxed and confident with chorus songs a speciality, Derek's enthusiasm is contagious. You are soon singing along, thoroughly enjoying yourself.

What�s Afoot

Colin Andrews

It's quite refreshing to find a CD of folk songs that has escaped the modern tendency for multiinstrumental arrangements with all the effects which digitalised sound reproduction allows. Derek's performance is uncomplicated, allowing the words to tell the story without unnecessary distraction.  Where self-accompaniment on guitar or bowed psaltery is used, or other instrumentalists provide occasional backing (Keith Kendrick, Paul Sartin, Gill Redmond and Anna Shannon), the song remains the prime focus. This album is the latest of several he has recorded.  Over a period of some thirty-five years, Derek has gained a well-deserved reputation both at home and abroad for his fine solo performances. He is also a member of the shanty group, Three Sheets To The Wind.

I don't think I've personally seen Derek do a guest spot at a club or concert though I'm sure our paths have crossed on more than one occasion. He is the kind of singer who, if doing a floor spot, one would say afterwards, �That was a darn good song and well sung�. He manages to recreate the folk club atmosphere on this album, ably helped by the lusty chorus singing from Tom and Barabara Brown as well as those mentioned above.

Although the album has a 'traditional' feel to it, only two songs - The Bold Fisherman, and Dives & Lazarus - are from the oral tradition. All the others are more recent compositions by different songwriters � Pete Coe's Farewell to the Brine, Alan Bell's Cocklers Song, and Richard Grainger's Land And Sea are perhaps the more familiar offerings. It's very evident that Derek has an attraction to songs with an environmental or social message, even in Early One Evening � the 'plastic pub' song penned back in the sixties by Miles Wootton. I was pleased to hear the words pretty much as sung by its composer, albeit unaccompanied rather than with guitar.

All in all, I found this quite an inspirational CD.

The Living Tradition

Fiona Heywood

No stranger to the folk scene, or to recording, here is another release by Derek Gifford, again with nautical and environmental issues running throughout   two of the themes that have become associated with his singing over the years.

This CD consists of 14 well chosen songs, most of which are written by other respected folk singers (Pete Coe, Richard Grainger, Alan Bell, Bob Watson etc), alongside two traditional songs   Dives And Lazarus and Bold Fisherman. Derek accompanies himself on guitar or bowed psaltery on some tracks, and has a few other guest musicians giving him a hand at points, and the rest of the songs are unaccompanied, though often embellished by a fine group of chorus singers, effectively portraying that folk club feel.

The disc opens and closes with two strong songs. Richard Grainger's Land And Sea talks of humankind's mismanagement and often blatant disregard for the resources at its disposal, and Paul Sartin's oboe is used here to good effect. Brian Hooper's Coming In Further, gives a slightly more humorous take on the state of our environment, and closes the disc with a catchy chorus ringing in your ears.

This is a fine CD, full of good songs and singable choruses   a worthy addition to any song lover's album collection.

www.derekgifford.co.uk