1 Baltic Street.
Violet Jacob / Carole Prior.
I have recorded a number of Violet Jacob's poems but on this occasion with a tune by friend and former regular singer at The Ram Club, Carole Prior. The tale is that of a pretty, young English lass who has been rejected by a lad from Montrose. Despite having her “tocher” (dowry) ready ! Although fond of the girl, he recognises that she might not be happy in the East Coast fishing town particularly in winter. Having played in a rugby match there in the teeth of a North East gale and following a Burns supper in Greenock the night before, I can totally agree.
2 How Many Rivers
Mike Silver. Faymusic Publishing.
Mike encouraged me to record this song, probably his most popular or best known from his long catalogue of crafted compositions. Of course there was no way I could emulate his jazzy style and subtle changes of the melody in the original, so in the end I sang it pretty straight and hopefully haven't done too much damage to his reputation
3 A Rosebud By My Early Walk.
Burns wrote this poem as a thank you to the young daughter of a friend who had helped him set some of his words to music by playing on her harpsichord. Burns of course wrote no music, but had a keen ear for a tune which would fit his lyrics. These were frequently fiddle tunes sometimes not too easy for a singer.
Steve composed this haunting song some years ago at a time when he was teaching guitar to a group of North African refugees in London. It has been covered by Show of Hands, obviously, Polly Bolton on my first hearing and also Rusby/Roberts.
5 A Waukrife Minnie
A lively tale of a young man clandestinely “night visiting” a young lassie but being caught out by her Minnie (mother) who wakened early (waukrife) disturbed by the dawn crowing of the farmyard cock. The girl duly received her punishment, and as usual the lad gets away Scot free ! Carol plays the fiddle tune “Drummond Castle” at the end
6 My Ain Countrie
This song was written by Allan Cunningham (1784-1842) and was one of a genre of songs written post the 1745 “rebellion” describing the exile of a Jacobite soldier in France and his longing for home. It is set to a traditional Gaelic air.
7 The Stag.
My Selkie partner Liz, sent me this song on cassette some years ago, suggesting that I learn it but of course, it has taken me an inordinately long time. However, the message is still relevant today as there are many big game hunters who sadly, have not yet experienced a similar epiphany as did the subject in this song. The composer is apparently, an Italian rock musician!
8 Sir Patrick Spens.
There are many versions of this well known Scottish ballad, some much longer than others, combining as it does in true tabloid fashion two tales relating to an original fated sea journey and the later voyage, which was sent to bring to Scotland the young “ Maid of Norway”, to be betrothed to a son of the Scottish King . It is a bit “economical” with the true facts but makes a good story. However no surprise that a group of Scots Lords out for a party are accused of drinking their hosts dry!
9 The Gallowa' Hills
This is a variation of the song written by a travelling musician Willie Nicholson who roamed around the area in the early 19th Century. Recorded by Hamish Henderson in 1958 it was made popular by the singing of Jeannie Robertson and later Ray Fisher. Both ladies sing the line “wi heather bells and Bonnie Doon” Perhaps mis-heard at some point in Jeanie's version, as Loch Doon and its river lie firmly in the Ayrshire hills. Hence it should I think be, “wi heather bells in bonny bloom”
10 When Angels Cry
Not the cheeriest of songs I know, being written at a time when it was feared that AIDS might become a pandemic. Janis has never held back from tackling difficult subjects.
11 The Trooper and the Maid.
This traditional song has been performed by many Scottish Groups and solo artists over the years. It is to be found in several versions both North and South of the Border with the recurring theme of the lass being left pregnant and the soldier unlikely to return. In this case, “When heather cowes grow owsen bows” i.e. when heather brooms grow oxen yokes. Carol and Jonny add an instrumental break with the tune “The Ale is Dear” I'll drink to that, especially here in Surrey !
12 The Man In The Moon.
Andy M Stewart.
A mysterious and fascinating song from the pen of this late, great singer songwriter. This one, a little reminiscent of the songs by Jimmy McCarthy.
13 Andersons Coast.
Australian Folk Historian John Warren wrote and recorded this song based on a true tale of a group of escaped convicts whose stolen vessel had been wrecked on a remote South Australian stretch of coast, claimed by a settler called Anderson. Apparently, some time later, a party of lost explorers stumbled upon their stockade and the convicts provided food and led them to Anderson's ranch which saved them. The convicts were, it seems, pardoned because of their good deed. Recorded by several artists, notably, Cockersdale, and Kerr/Fagan
14 My Lagan Love.
This is a poem by a Joseph Campbell, which was set to a traditional air perhaps from Galway, by Herbert Hughes. There has been some dispute concerning the location but clearly the Lagan river runs South of Belfast and one of the original verses mentions Lambeg near Belfast. Lagan or Laggan is from the Gaelic for a low place by a river and similar place names can be found in Ireland and Scotland. The song has been recorded by Margaret Barry and many others since. I have sung this for many years from some date in the 60's and recorded it previously on a cassette, produced by Richard Digance in 1985 .
15 Bonnie Gallowa.
This was the favourite song of an old friend of mine Jimmy Crawley, one time Manager of Stranraer Creamery where I would visit on business. He declared no love for the modern music of the day convinced that he had “Heard mair music oot o' the wheel o' a dung barrow” Those who like me, have experienced farm work may well understand.
16 Where Ravens Feed.
Martyn Wyndham Reid, did us all a great favour when he approached Graeme asking for permission to collaborate and record a volume of his songs which resulted in The Fellside production “Where Ravens Feed” The song has become a favourite classic amongst the Folk Community and a continuing tribute to the talent of the late Graeme and his many wonderful songs.