Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The dog it was that drank

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of BBC Radio 3, record producer Joe Boyd (the guy who signed up Pink Floyd, Donovan, Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, The Incredible String Band, Vashti Bunyan and my pals The Purple Gang) hosted two programmes (1 2)wherein he played his "top forty" world music tracks. He then asked listeners to send in comments and suggestions for a final programme which he would be hosting with Lucy Duran.

Here's what I sent him.


First of all, thanks for the amazing bands you've helped on their
way in your years in the business. When I was at school I played in a folk group with Joe Beard, formerly (and now, again) with The Purple Gang. A formative experience, especially when (with Trevor Crozier) we made it to the main stage at the Cambridge Festival. So for the Gang, Pink Floyd, Fairport, the ISB and the rest: thanks.

Thinking of Trevor Crozier puts me in mind of a record you should maybe feature in your next programme: "Giles Farnaby's Dream Band". (My favourite track is "Shrewsbury Lasses", but any would do.)

The Orsa Spelman track was great, but I'd love to hear some more Scandinavian artists. Gåte, for example, whose track "Knut liten og Sylvelin" from the album "Isolilja" raises the bar extremely high for any subsequent users of electronics in traditional music. As does almost anything by Sorten Muld, especially "The Man and the Elf-Girl". Moving to less experimental ground, Hedningarna's "Karelia Visa" album combining Finnish vocalists and a Swedish band is full of gems, most famously "Forest Maiden". Finally, if you're willing to have a group performing original material with heavy folk influences (and after Baba Yaga you might be!) there's Nordman: like a reinvented Giles Farnaby's Dream Band with Rod Stewart singing in Swedish. What's not to love? Favourites would be "Det Sista du Ser", "Ännu Glöder Solen" and especially "Om Hon Will det Själv".

However, your playing of some Malagasy music as well as Shoukichi Kina emboldens me to suggest possibly my all-time favourite world music track. From Henry Kaiser & David Lindley's first "A World Out Of Time " anthology, it is "Hana" by Tarika Sammy (a Malagasy cover of SK's greatest hit "Flowers For Your Heart"). Sheer bliss.

I look forward to hearing your next show whether you play any of my suggestions or not, and wish you many more years of inspiring us all.

Well, the programme came around, and I was mentioned on air! Lucy Duran mentioned my suggestion of Hedningarna (managing in the process to mispronounce both my own name and the band's!). Much to my surprise they didn't have a copy of Karelia Visa available so they played a track from Kaksi. Oh well. I still think Knut liten og Sylvelin by Gåte would have been better (or anything from Giles Farnaby's Dream Band), but it's good to have had one's contribution acknowledged.

A propos Giles Farnaby's Dream Band, I note that vinyl versions like my own are going for £81 (and elsewhere for 150 Euros) online. and that there is now a CD issue. I commend it to you all, not just because one of the leaders of GFDB was the late Trevor Crozier (mentioned above, and my brother's best man) but because it's the only record I have ever played that has literally caused someone (a very attractive young lady, moreover) to bang on my door and ask what the amazing music was that she could hear.

Oh, and the title: my friend Chris Eyre used to be able to boast proudly that Trevor Crozier's dog owed him a pint (he still could, though both dog and owner are long deceased.) Rose, a magnificent lurcher ("Understands every word I say: doesn't take a blind bit of notice" - TC) had a party trick of drinking beer or (even better) cider out of pint tankards (there was some complex business with nose and paw that rendered it possible). So endearing was this that she was forever being provided with drinks on which to practise it (but not, I should add, to the extent that she was at any risk of intoxication - Trevor rationed her performances). She had a pint of cider off Chris.

Here's a link that gives a decent potted bio of Trevor. Though I wouldn't recommend you to buy Trouble Over Bridgewater: I had a copy and gave it to Oxfam. Despite the inclusion of Barry Dransfield among the "friends", it doesn't show Trev in a good light. The new material is weak, and the old stuff is noowhere near as god as the studio versions. A pity, because Trev could be wonderful live. (I remember him filling a brief but unexpected hiatus between acts at the Poynton Folk Festival with a marvellous - and understated - version of Percy French's very funny Mary Anne McHugh.) A Parcel of Old Crams is good though, and if you ever spot a copy of the Lyonesse album, buy it and tell me so I can hate you . (No, I don't have a copy, why do you ask?)


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