Featured Album | Bryony Griffith and Alice Jones – A Year Too Late and a Month Too Soon | Splid Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | 27.05.22
A Year Too Late and a Month Too Soon has Yorkshire written all over it, with a collection of songs that don’t necessarily originate from God’s own county, but are directly associated with it in the form presented here. The two Yorkshire-born singers collaborate for the first time on this project, Bryony from Skelmanthorpe near Huddersfield in West Yorkshire and Alice from Ribbonden near Halifax in the Calderdale area of the county, both very much steeped in their own local traditions. Their two voices compliment one another in the same manner that June Tabor and Maddy Prior’s voices worked together on the Silly Sisters albums a few decades ago. Predominantly traditional, with informed arrangements by the two musicians, the songs are brought to life by a duo passionate about this broad repertoire. Alice makes no apologies for her infatuation with Frank Kidson (or specifically Frank Kidson’s mind), a song collector examined in a previous collaboration with Pete Coe, the double CD collection The Search for Five Finger Frank, which featured a collection of twenty-seven songs and tunes. Here Frank is remembered once again with a further handful of songs, along with songs collected by Mary and Nigel Hudleston, Frank and Grace Hinchcliffe and Bert Dobson among others, and notably the repertoire of John Greaves. Both musicians are in fine voice throughout, notably on the haunting “What is that Blood on Thy Shirt Sleeve” and the sprightly opener “Wanton Lasses Pity Her”. Hopefully, this will not be a one off.
Flick the Dust Off | Silly Sisters – Silly Sisters | Chrysalis 1101 | 1976
I first came across Maddy Prior and June Tabor’s collaborative LP Silly Sisters in the Sound and Vision department of Doncaster Central Library in the mid 1980s, a good ten years after the LP was first released. Prior to this, folk music of this kind held little interest for me in the mid 1970s as Punk allegedly pushed Prog’s nose out of place. By the mid-1980s though, even the New Wave began to sound spectacularly old and there was little on the radio to spark the slightest interest and so a five year period of tunnel-visioned commitment to the blues began to let in the songs and tunes of the British folk scene and a new adventure began. Silly Sisters was one of the LPs around at the time that focused on songs, each treated to a strong arrangement and fine musicianship from the cream of the British and Irish folk music community, including Nic Jones, Martin Carthy, Andy Irvine and Tony Hall.
Singled Out | The Kinks – Autumn Almanac | PYE 7N.17405 | 1967
The Kinks produced many great singles in the mid to late 1960s, any of which could be chosen for this series of Singled Out records. After the early rock singles such as “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night”, Ray Davies began writing social commentaries, with a more acoustic feel, which both reflected the times, the places and the mood of the 1960s, but with some degree of kitchen sink reality. “Autumn Almanac” however, showed a more whimsical side to his writing, which seemed to parody the band in a sort of Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band fashion, complete with brass band and typically English sing-a-long midsection, with football on Saturdays, roast beef on Sundays and holidays in Blackpool.
Fifty Years Ago | Randy Newman – Sail Away | Reprise K44185 | MAY 1972
When I first saw Randy Newman perform this song on the Old Grey Whistle Test, the singer resplendent in his Marc Bolan flowery shirt and wavy locks, I couldn’t quite believe my ears. ‘Is he kidding?’ I would ask. ‘He’s being ironic’ they would respond. But Americans don’t do irony do they? Randy Newman is the exception to the rule and much of his early work is loaded with humour, years before comedians would attempt to dissect Alanis Morissette songs. Sail Away is perhaps Newman’s boldest statement, with a handful of memorable songs that are still remembered and performed fifty years on from its initial release. Perhaps its success was due to the fact that several of the songs had already been released by other musicians, notably “Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear”, a hit for Alan Price five years earlier and “Dayton, Ohio – 1903” having been recorded by Billy J Kramer in 1969. It wouldn’t stop there though, with Tom Jones warbling a fairly unconvincing “You Can Leave Your Hat On” for the 1997 film The Full Monty. Randy Newman would go on to build a healthy career in film soundtracks.