Time to Rise

by Crows

CROWS 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.

1 Bold Wolfe 
Trad 
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 
Trad 
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 
Ryan/Patterson 
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 
Trad 
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 
Ryan 
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 
Trad 
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 
Bach 
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 
Trad 
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 
Trad 
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 
Trad 
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 
Trad 
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 
Patterson/Ryan 
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 
Trad 
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 
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
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
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
Sample not available
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
Sample not available
The Hungry Army
Crows’ gig opener for many years
Sample not available
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
Sample not available
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
Sample not available
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
Sample not available
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
Sample not available
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
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
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
Sample not available
Sidmouth Days
When James was being born in August 1954 Packie Byrne was at the first Sidmouth festival. This fact
Sample not available
The Two Magicians
A folk tale which crops up in traditions all over Europe
Sample not available
Long Long Time
This cover of Sandy Denny’s song was recorded for the first album. Our producer Dave Foister played the keyboards. James
Sample not available
And When I Die
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
Sample not available

Folk Wales online

Mick Tems

Crows were formed in 1977, made two LPs and stopped working in 1987. The heady mix of four strong voices melded in startling harmony combined with a cascade of acoustic instruments generated immense pleasure and amazement from their fans everywhere. This is a selection of six tracks from their debut album Crows, issued on the Dingle's label in 1981, two tracks from the 1986 Dragon Records LP No Bones Or Grease , and an incredible eight tracks which were recorded for radio broadcast and never released.

The quartet was born from a meeting in the Benfleet folk club in Essex. Flyers advertised a concert by folk supergroup Bandoggs; the guests that night were a young Swindon duo, Mick Ryan and Jon Burge, and there to see them were an up-and-coming London-based duo Silas, James Patterson and Ralph Jordan. �We could be a supergroup�, one of the four suggested � �and be called Crows�, said Mick. Their debut public appearance was supporting Kitsyke Will in Pately Bridge, north of Harrogate, in 1978, and this CD represents the cream of Crows' well-planned repertoire in those 10 years before the four members went their separate ways.

New recruits were drafted in to fill the gaps left by the departing founder members; multi-instrumentalist Dave Bordewey, Jim Younger, violin and keyboard player Steve Faux and � a year before the break-up � Nick Passmore. The CD is also dedicated to the late Ralph, whose premature death in hospital shocked everyone. His mighty input to the band is very prominent from these recordings, and it's thanks to this very accomplished sound engineer that the first album and the BBC radio tracks were saved. Ralph was also a great arranger of classical pieces for his duet concertina; Ralph and Dave's 'Gavotte en Rondeau', by Johann Sebastian Bach, is an exquisite two-minute example of mastery of the instrument.

Time To Rise! positively explodes from the speakers with the opening track, 'Bold Wolfe'; smouldering instruments suddenly give way to a capella voices, building up to high, brilliant harmony. 'The Antelope', the title track, 'Time To Rise', and 'Sidmouth Days' celebrate Mick's long and wonderful art of song-making. From the 1981 Crows album to his collaboration nowadays with fabulous guitarist Paul Downes and his folk opera A Day's Work, he does not disappoint one jot. He hones and shapes the song to a subtle, smooth finish which bolsters the tradition and gives it strength, but always stamps it as one of his portfolio. 'The Antelope' and 'Sidmouth Days' were collaborations with James.

'Napoleon's Farewell To Paris' presents a fascinating story; The Irish sea captain Tommy Flynn sang his heavily-truncated 'Napoleon Bonaparte' in a session at a Bangor pub in Gwynedd, North Wales, and the song spread like wildfire all around these islands � in fact, the song was so well-known that it spawned a parody entitled 'Napoleon Goes Boozing'. However, Crows display a longer version, sung to a different tune, and the ballad explains some of Tommy's obscure references. James found it while researching in the Cecil Sharp House library, and this radio broadcast displays stunning harmonic arrangements.

All the songs, from Ian Campbell's 'Coast Of Peru', though Chris Foster's 'When This Old Hat Was New' and the wonderful shape-note hymn 'Northfields', to the lovely Sandy Denny piece 'Long Long Time' and Laura Nero's 'And When I Die' are really inspiring; not a track is wasted. This album is a vivid flashback that shows just how significant and spellbinding Crows really were.

fRoots

David Kidman

Crows were a popular feature of the folk scene for just a decade, from 1977 to 1987; during this time, they made only two LPs, in 1981 and 1986 respectively, but they also underwent a number of personnel changes along the way. WildGoose's self-confessed �unashamed trip down memory-lane� results from a conversation at Sidmouth Festival in 2014 following the partial re-formation of the group to perform a couple of songs at the Ralph Jordan Memorial Concert.

Eight of the CD's sixteen tracks are live recordings made during 1982/ '83 for radio (Bournemouth and Oxford) but never broadcast; of the remainder, six are drawn from Crows' eponymous 1981 debut LP (which captures the line-up on the cusp of John leaving to join Kitsyke Will and Dave Bordewey arriving) and two from its successor, 1986's No Bones Or Grease.  Crows could be (and were jokingly) described as a folk supergroup of their time; they were formed as the result of a meeting between two duos, Mick Ryan & John Burge and James Patterson & Ralph Jordan (who were then known as Silas) at Benfleet's Anchor Folk Club.

Although Crows included in their ranks some highly proficient instrumentalists, their principal strength was in their harmony vocal work, as you can hear on a cappella tracks like Moreton Bay and Northfields (from the first LP) and on fully-accompanied items (from the radio sessions) alike.  The sterling tones of Mick Ryan (always one of this nation's finest singers) are a constant, and unmistakable even at this remove, and he evidently exerted a considerable influence on the group's already exemplary choice of material by the introduction of items from his own repertoire such as Factory Girl and several self-penned songs including Time To Rise (a reworking of the Ballad Of George Barnwell set to Bizet's L'Arl�sienne prelude) and an early appearance of folk-opera number The Antelope. The group's versatility is fully showcased on the radio sessions, which tackle anything from uncommon traditional to classical to Laura Nyro!

Although a compilation, this release undeniably transcends 'And The Rest' coverage on the grounds of its importance, for it gathers together a host of rare and hitherto unavailable recordings of truly top-notch quality (and superbly remastered) by a key outfit whose contribution to the 1970s/ '80s folk scene was considerable.

The Living Tradition

John Waltham

For many of us, Crows were one of the quintessential groups of the 1970s and 80s, and during their existence they developed a substantial following. The personnel underwent several changes during the decade or so from 1977, although Mick Ryan, their lead vocalist, was a constant. They also recorded two albums, and the compilation CD under review here is in part taken from those, although half the tracks come from recordings made for  radio stations and have not previously been released. These will be much appreciated by those of us who enjoyed the band in their heyday.

Crows enjoyed musical strength in some depth   at various times the personnel encompassed the talents of Steve Faux, Jim Younger, Dave Bordewey and the late Ralph Jordan (who ensured the preservation of many of the radio recordings), as well as the vocal expertise of the aforementioned Mick Ryan. Their harmony singing was always exemplary, and this CD shows off all their abilities very well. There are traditional and contemporary songs � Mick's own songs have always been worth hearing  and even one they got from Blood, Sweat And Tears! So no lack of variety. Some of the songs, as is the way with everything, have fallen out of favour more recently, but are well worth hearing again, and should probably be sung more, and all of them will transport you back to those days when the sun shone and there seemed to be less worry in the world.

A very enjoyable listen, and an excellent tribute to Ralph Jordan's memory.

Shire Folk

Barry Goodman

Crows were originally an amalgamation of two popular duos of the 1970s and 80s British folk scene Silas (James Patterson and Ralph Jordan) and Mick Ryan and Jon Burge. The line up had some changes during its lifetime, with Dave Bordewey replacing Jon Burge in 1981, and Ralph Jordan making way for Jim Younger in 1983, while Steve Faux joined the band in the mid 1980s. This CD celebrates the band's output with tracks taken from the masters of their two albums, together with eight songs recorded for radio broadcast, but never released.

What is immediately evident is the sheer quality of the singing and instrumental work throughout the 16 tracks on this excellent compilation. The whole was certainly greater than the sum of its parts in all the line ups, and it's great to hear the wonderful voices of Mick Ryan and James Patterson in this repertoire again, with the immaculate musicianship of Ralph, Dave, Jim and Steve enhancing the sound.

There is a wide variety of material, some traditional, some by Mick and James, others from Sandy Denny, Laura Nero and JS Bach! One of Mick's songs, The Antelope', is still sung regularly in the folk opera 'A Day's Work', and one of my favourite tracks is 'Sidmouth Days' by Mick and James. Ralph's wonderful arrangement of 'Gavotte en Rondeau' is also a stand out, while 'Moreton Bay' demonstrates what a splendid a capella group Crows could be.

Produced by Doug Bailey at WildGoose Records and dedicated to the late Ralph Jordan, this CD is, in Doug's words, 'an unashamed trip down memory lane', and a wonderful treat it certainly is to hear Crows once more.

Whats Afoot

Colin Andrews

The quartet Crows enjoyed a high level of popularity in the late 1970s and 1980s for their rousing four part harmonies and well arranged accompaniments. Mick Ryan and James Patterson were with the line up throughout, but original members, Ralph Jordan and Jon Burge, moved on to play with other groups, and were replaced at various times by Dave Bordewey, Jim Younger and Steve Faux. The group enjoyed a brief reunion in 2014 to perform at Sidmouth in a memorial concert for Ralph.

The album includes tracks from their two vinyls released in 1981 and 1986, together with 8 unreleased tracks that were recorded for radio broadcasts. The result is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for everyone who appreciated their vibrant singing over their ten years of performing, and an unexpected gem for those who have come to enjoy the folk scene more recently.

Mick has, of course, since established a solid reputation as a songwriter and composer of 'folk operas' but some of his early songs are featured on this CD   The Antelope, and the title song, Time To Rise. Although there are a couple of other contemporary songs, the album overall has a traditional song feel to it, from the opening numbers, Bold Wolfe and Coast of Peru, to Napoleon's Farewell to Paris and Two Magicians, among others. I was quite expecting When This Old Hat Was New (a song I've never quite got round to learning) to be given the full vocal harmony treatment, but was surprised, pleasantly, to hear a superb solo rendering from James, to a gentle and sympathetic accompaniment by Ralph and Dave. The harmonies really go to town, however, on the southern methodist hymn, Northfields. Wonderful!

Congratulations to WildGoose for giving this superb material a new lease of life.

R2 Magazine (now RnR)

Dai Jeffries

In the late 70s and early 80s the golden age of folk music Crows were a fixture on the scene. Originally formed by two duos, Mick Ryan and John Burge, and James Patterson and the late and much lamented Ralph Jordan, they underwent a number of changes, with Dave Bordewey and Jim Younger replacing Burge and Jordan respectively, and Steve Faux expanding the group to a quintet.

At the heart of the group was harmony singing backed by guitar, bouzouki, fiddle and concertina, and this selection of material is largely traditional with three original songs and two covers I believe I heard Crows sing 'It'll Take A Long, Long Time' before I heard Sandy's version. You can tell immediately from the harmony style when the songs were recorded and 'Moreton Bay' is a perfect example. Mick is the leader only because he solos the first verse but the harmony vocals of James, Ralph and Jon have equal prominence in the mix the songs were set up for audience singing.

The tracks are taken from the band's two albums, Crows and No Bones Or Grease together with previously unreleased radio sessions, which will please fans but for me Crows will always mean summer folk festivals.

Stirrings

JG

Crows were a popular presence on the UK folk scene for around a decade 1977 87, during which time they produced two LP records, Crows in 1981 followed by 1986's No Bones Or Grease.This new compilation combines tracks from those vinyl releases with eight songs recorded live for radio, and re�mastered by Doug Bailey for the present release.

The band's line up underwent several changes during its lifespan, featuring at various stages such luminaries as Mick Ryan, James Patterson, John Burge, Ralph Jordan, Dave Bordewey, Jim Younger and Steve Faux. For the most part, no more than four of these gentlemen feature at any given point!

So a trip down memory lane for the senior folk fan? Well, yes, in a way though the good news is that the music here has not dated in any way, coming across fresh, vibrant and lively. Crows' blend of strong male voices in harmony is notably mainstream in style, in that the lines and delivery reflect very much a style heard in festival singarounds and shanty week�ends across the nation. It's a plaintive, stirring sound which serves songs such as Bold Wolfe (mostly acapella here) and Coast Of Peru well indeed. The story is the thing here, and Crows engage the listener's attention and keep it throughout.

An expressively picked acoustic guitar introduces The Factory Girl a touching and powerful lead vocal from Mick here, moving up the register to build the tension as the tale unfolds, driven on by plaintive fiddle and those brass bound harmonies from James, Ralph and Dave. Grand. When This Old Hat Was New is vocally led by Dave in a wistful, relaxed style.

Instrumentals? Gavotte En Rondeau, arranged for duet con�certina by Ralph, is played by him and Dave with many a nimble grace note and neat counterpoint. Mention must be made of the high quality of both production and performance on the tracks rescued from local radio archives and included here: Factory Girl, Time To Rise and the other six such serve well to remind us of the impeccable standard of music produced by Crows in a live, unadorned setting.

The album's �encore� is a funky, Bo Diddley beat rendition of Laura Nyro's And When I Die, which takes the song in a notably different direction from the single hit by American jazz rock band Blood Sweat and Tears!

One hopes that this CD will gain much airplay, and prompt the band to consider putting it back together, if only for a few farewell tours. A rich and varied delight, and a great memento of Crows, a real force to be reckoned with during some golden days of the UK folk scene.

Folk Wales online

Mick Tems

Crows were formed in 1977, made two LPs and stopped working in 1987. The heady mix of four strong voices melded in startling harmony combined with a cascade of acoustic instruments generated immense pleasure and amazement from their fans everywhere. This is a selection of six tracks from their debut album Crows, issued on the Dingle's label in 1981, two tracks from the 1986 Dragon Records LP No Bones Or Grease , and an incredible eight tracks which were recorded for radio broadcast and never released.

The quartet was born from a meeting in the Benfleet folk club in Essex. Flyers advertised a concert by folk supergroup Bandoggs; the guests that night were a young Swindon duo, Mick Ryan and Jon Burge, and there to see them were an up-and-coming London-based duo Silas, James Patterson and Ralph Jordan. �We could be a supergroup�, one of the four suggested � �and be called Crows�, said Mick. Their debut public appearance was supporting Kitsyke Will in Pately Bridge, north of Harrogate, in 1978, and this CD represents the cream of Crows' well-planned repertoire in those 10 years before the four members went their separate ways.

New recruits were drafted in to fill the gaps left by the departing founder members; multi-instrumentalist Dave Bordewey, Jim Younger, violin and keyboard player Steve Faux and � a year before the break-up � Nick Passmore. The CD is also dedicated to the late Ralph, whose premature death in hospital shocked everyone. His mighty input to the band is very prominent from these recordings, and it's thanks to this very accomplished sound engineer that the first album and the BBC radio tracks were saved. Ralph was also a great arranger of classical pieces for his duet concertina; Ralph and Dave's 'Gavotte en Rondeau', by Johann Sebastian Bach, is an exquisite two-minute example of mastery of the instrument.

Time To Rise! positively explodes from the speakers with the opening track, 'Bold Wolfe'; smouldering instruments suddenly give way to a capella voices, building up to high, brilliant harmony. 'The Antelope', the title track, 'Time To Rise', and 'Sidmouth Days' celebrate Mick's long and wonderful art of song-making. From the 1981 Crows album to his collaboration nowadays with fabulous guitarist Paul Downes and his folk opera A Day's Work, he does not disappoint one jot. He hones and shapes the song to a subtle, smooth finish which bolsters the tradition and gives it strength, but always stamps it as one of his portfolio. 'The Antelope' and 'Sidmouth Days' were collaborations with James.

'Napoleon's Farewell To Paris' presents a fascinating story; The Irish sea captain Tommy Flynn sang his heavily-truncated 'Napoleon Bonaparte' in a session at a Bangor pub in Gwynedd, North Wales, and the song spread like wildfire all around these islands � in fact, the song was so well-known that it spawned a parody entitled 'Napoleon Goes Boozing'. However, Crows display a longer version, sung to a different tune, and the ballad explains some of Tommy's obscure references. James found it while researching in the Cecil Sharp House library, and this radio broadcast displays stunning harmonic arrangements.

All the songs, from Ian Campbell's 'Coast Of Peru', though Chris Foster's 'When This Old Hat Was New' and the wonderful shape-note hymn 'Northfields', to the lovely Sandy Denny piece 'Long Long Time' and Laura Nero's 'And When I Die' are really inspiring; not a track is wasted. This album is a vivid flashback that shows just how significant and spellbinding Crows really were.

fRoots

David Kidman

Crows were a popular feature of the folk scene for just a decade, from 1977 to 1987; during this time, they made only two LPs, in 1981 and 1986 respectively, but they also underwent a number of personnel changes along the way. WildGoose's self-confessed �unashamed trip down memory-lane� results from a conversation at Sidmouth Festival in 2014 following the partial re-formation of the group to perform a couple of songs at the Ralph Jordan Memorial Concert.

Eight of the CD's sixteen tracks are live recordings made during 1982/ '83 for radio (Bournemouth and Oxford) but never broadcast; of the remainder, six are drawn from Crows' eponymous 1981 debut LP (which captures the line-up on the cusp of John leaving to join Kitsyke Will and Dave Bordewey arriving) and two from its successor, 1986's No Bones Or Grease.  Crows could be (and were jokingly) described as a folk supergroup of their time; they were formed as the result of a meeting between two duos, Mick Ryan & John Burge and James Patterson & Ralph Jordan (who were then known as Silas) at Benfleet's Anchor Folk Club.

Although Crows included in their ranks some highly proficient instrumentalists, their principal strength was in their harmony vocal work, as you can hear on a cappella tracks like Moreton Bay and Northfields (from the first LP) and on fully-accompanied items (from the radio sessions) alike.  The sterling tones of Mick Ryan (always one of this nation's finest singers) are a constant, and unmistakable even at this remove, and he evidently exerted a considerable influence on the group's already exemplary choice of material by the introduction of items from his own repertoire such as Factory Girl and several self-penned songs including Time To Rise (a reworking of the Ballad Of George Barnwell set to Bizet's L'Arl�sienne prelude) and an early appearance of folk-opera number The Antelope. The group's versatility is fully showcased on the radio sessions, which tackle anything from uncommon traditional to classical to Laura Nyro!

Although a compilation, this release undeniably transcends 'And The Rest' coverage on the grounds of its importance, for it gathers together a host of rare and hitherto unavailable recordings of truly top-notch quality (and superbly remastered) by a key outfit whose contribution to the 1970s/ '80s folk scene was considerable.

The Living Tradition

John Waltham

For many of us, Crows were one of the quintessential groups of the 1970s and 80s, and during their existence they developed a substantial following. The personnel underwent several changes during the decade or so from 1977, although Mick Ryan, their lead vocalist, was a constant. They also recorded two albums, and the compilation CD under review here is in part taken from those, although half the tracks come from recordings made for  radio stations and have not previously been released. These will be much appreciated by those of us who enjoyed the band in their heyday.

Crows enjoyed musical strength in some depth   at various times the personnel encompassed the talents of Steve Faux, Jim Younger, Dave Bordewey and the late Ralph Jordan (who ensured the preservation of many of the radio recordings), as well as the vocal expertise of the aforementioned Mick Ryan. Their harmony singing was always exemplary, and this CD shows off all their abilities very well. There are traditional and contemporary songs � Mick's own songs have always been worth hearing  and even one they got from Blood, Sweat And Tears! So no lack of variety. Some of the songs, as is the way with everything, have fallen out of favour more recently, but are well worth hearing again, and should probably be sung more, and all of them will transport you back to those days when the sun shone and there seemed to be less worry in the world.

A very enjoyable listen, and an excellent tribute to Ralph Jordan's memory.

Shire Folk

Barry Goodman

Crows were originally an amalgamation of two popular duos of the 1970s and 80s British folk scene Silas (James Patterson and Ralph Jordan) and Mick Ryan and Jon Burge. The line up had some changes during its lifetime, with Dave Bordewey replacing Jon Burge in 1981, and Ralph Jordan making way for Jim Younger in 1983, while Steve Faux joined the band in the mid 1980s. This CD celebrates the band's output with tracks taken from the masters of their two albums, together with eight songs recorded for radio broadcast, but never released.

What is immediately evident is the sheer quality of the singing and instrumental work throughout the 16 tracks on this excellent compilation. The whole was certainly greater than the sum of its parts in all the line ups, and it's great to hear the wonderful voices of Mick Ryan and James Patterson in this repertoire again, with the immaculate musicianship of Ralph, Dave, Jim and Steve enhancing the sound.

There is a wide variety of material, some traditional, some by Mick and James, others from Sandy Denny, Laura Nero and JS Bach! One of Mick's songs, The Antelope', is still sung regularly in the folk opera 'A Day's Work', and one of my favourite tracks is 'Sidmouth Days' by Mick and James. Ralph's wonderful arrangement of 'Gavotte en Rondeau' is also a stand out, while 'Moreton Bay' demonstrates what a splendid a capella group Crows could be.

Produced by Doug Bailey at WildGoose Records and dedicated to the late Ralph Jordan, this CD is, in Doug's words, 'an unashamed trip down memory lane', and a wonderful treat it certainly is to hear Crows once more.

Whats Afoot

Colin Andrews

The quartet Crows enjoyed a high level of popularity in the late 1970s and 1980s for their rousing four part harmonies and well arranged accompaniments. Mick Ryan and James Patterson were with the line up throughout, but original members, Ralph Jordan and Jon Burge, moved on to play with other groups, and were replaced at various times by Dave Bordewey, Jim Younger and Steve Faux. The group enjoyed a brief reunion in 2014 to perform at Sidmouth in a memorial concert for Ralph.

The album includes tracks from their two vinyls released in 1981 and 1986, together with 8 unreleased tracks that were recorded for radio broadcasts. The result is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for everyone who appreciated their vibrant singing over their ten years of performing, and an unexpected gem for those who have come to enjoy the folk scene more recently.

Mick has, of course, since established a solid reputation as a songwriter and composer of 'folk operas' but some of his early songs are featured on this CD   The Antelope, and the title song, Time To Rise. Although there are a couple of other contemporary songs, the album overall has a traditional song feel to it, from the opening numbers, Bold Wolfe and Coast of Peru, to Napoleon's Farewell to Paris and Two Magicians, among others. I was quite expecting When This Old Hat Was New (a song I've never quite got round to learning) to be given the full vocal harmony treatment, but was surprised, pleasantly, to hear a superb solo rendering from James, to a gentle and sympathetic accompaniment by Ralph and Dave. The harmonies really go to town, however, on the southern methodist hymn, Northfields. Wonderful!

Congratulations to WildGoose for giving this superb material a new lease of life.

R2 Magazine (now RnR)

Dai Jeffries

In the late 70s and early 80s the golden age of folk music Crows were a fixture on the scene. Originally formed by two duos, Mick Ryan and John Burge, and James Patterson and the late and much lamented Ralph Jordan, they underwent a number of changes, with Dave Bordewey and Jim Younger replacing Burge and Jordan respectively, and Steve Faux expanding the group to a quintet.

At the heart of the group was harmony singing backed by guitar, bouzouki, fiddle and concertina, and this selection of material is largely traditional with three original songs and two covers I believe I heard Crows sing 'It'll Take A Long, Long Time' before I heard Sandy's version. You can tell immediately from the harmony style when the songs were recorded and 'Moreton Bay' is a perfect example. Mick is the leader only because he solos the first verse but the harmony vocals of James, Ralph and Jon have equal prominence in the mix the songs were set up for audience singing.

The tracks are taken from the band's two albums, Crows and No Bones Or Grease together with previously unreleased radio sessions, which will please fans but for me Crows will always mean summer folk festivals.

Stirrings

JG

Crows were a popular presence on the UK folk scene for around a decade 1977 87, during which time they produced two LP records, Crows in 1981 followed by 1986's No Bones Or Grease.This new compilation combines tracks from those vinyl releases with eight songs recorded live for radio, and re�mastered by Doug Bailey for the present release.

The band's line up underwent several changes during its lifespan, featuring at various stages such luminaries as Mick Ryan, James Patterson, John Burge, Ralph Jordan, Dave Bordewey, Jim Younger and Steve Faux. For the most part, no more than four of these gentlemen feature at any given point!

So a trip down memory lane for the senior folk fan? Well, yes, in a way though the good news is that the music here has not dated in any way, coming across fresh, vibrant and lively. Crows' blend of strong male voices in harmony is notably mainstream in style, in that the lines and delivery reflect very much a style heard in festival singarounds and shanty week�ends across the nation. It's a plaintive, stirring sound which serves songs such as Bold Wolfe (mostly acapella here) and Coast Of Peru well indeed. The story is the thing here, and Crows engage the listener's attention and keep it throughout.

An expressively picked acoustic guitar introduces The Factory Girl a touching and powerful lead vocal from Mick here, moving up the register to build the tension as the tale unfolds, driven on by plaintive fiddle and those brass bound harmonies from James, Ralph and Dave. Grand. When This Old Hat Was New is vocally led by Dave in a wistful, relaxed style.

Instrumentals? Gavotte En Rondeau, arranged for duet con�certina by Ralph, is played by him and Dave with many a nimble grace note and neat counterpoint. Mention must be made of the high quality of both production and performance on the tracks rescued from local radio archives and included here: Factory Girl, Time To Rise and the other six such serve well to remind us of the impeccable standard of music produced by Crows in a live, unadorned setting.

The album's �encore� is a funky, Bo Diddley beat rendition of Laura Nyro's And When I Die, which takes the song in a notably different direction from the single hit by American jazz rock band Blood Sweat and Tears!

One hopes that this CD will gain much airplay, and prompt the band to consider putting it back together, if only for a few farewell tours. A rich and varied delight, and a great memento of Crows, a real force to be reckoned with during some golden days of the UK folk scene.