I’ve now published the 32 best loved folk songs as voted for by you, with informative notes on each song. The list includes songs by the likes of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and Townes van Zandt, as well as many traditional songs.
My protest song page has been revamped. Firstly, the page has a new look. All the original text is still there, but you no longer need to leave the page to watch the videos. All the youtube videos are now embedded in youtube playlists. Secondly, there’s some new content ! I’ve just made another podcast of protest songs recorded during the golden era of protest music, the decade from 1963 to 1973. The 29 songs selected are all songs which don’t usually appear on peoples lists of great protest songs, though I’m sure that many of the singers will be familiar to you (Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, The Dubliners, Gil Scott Heron, Victor Jara etc).
Roots Music Show 64 will be played on Vintage Radio this Saturday (8th June). Podcasts of all previous shows are here. You’re also encouraged to check out my podcasts pagewhere I’ve been publishing some lovingly compiled podcasts over the last year / 18 months, including
UK indie & punk from the 1980s
Songs of working people & working class lives
Shanties, Sea Songs & Hornpipes
In the early days, he says, ”I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was given all this money from EMI to go and record albums in huge studios with orchestras and I was basically allowed to do what I wanted. That was back in the day when record labels signed artists like myself and I could just go and spend hundreds of thousands on an album.”
Though gaining many admirers his career never really took off. He was dropped by EMI, and subsequent albums failed to make much of a splash. Work was coming in, but wider recognition seemed to elude him. In 2010 he released Lustre – an uplifting, emotional and very personal album. His family is the most important thing in his life, and it seems that he’d now come to terms with how to integrate this with his songwriting. The title track was dedicated to his baby daughter :
Ed Harcourt – Lustre
And so to 2013. The latest album Back Into The Woods was a return to basics. Harcourt gave himself one month to write all the songs, and one day to make the record. The nine tracks were all recorded, produced, mixed and engineered in one six hour session at Abbey Road studios. The music is much more stripped back than on previous albums – his piano and guitar, his wife Gita’s violin. The songs take centre stage. And the songs are introspective, personal, tender and hauntingly beautiful.
Ed Harcourt – The Cusp & the Wane
“There are many voices that are never heard at all / Mozart died a pauper, but he didn’t go in vain”
Ed Harcourt – Murmur In My Heart
“She is the mirror that stays so cracked / The strangest dream I ever had / She is the buzz from my guitar / She is the murmur in my heart”
Ed Harcourt – The Pretty Girls
“What you love most I can well destroy / Because pretty girls always fall for the baddest boys”
Ed Harcourt – Wandering Eye
Ed Harcourt – The Man That Time Forgot
Ed Harcourt – Last Will and Testament
These are songs to lie back and listen to again and again. “Like it or not / I’m the man that time forgot” ? Don’t you believe it. This man’s reputation will grow and grow. He’s touring this month, in the runup to Glastonbury, and is already working on his next album, which he promises will be very different again, collaborating with some of his favourite artists.
All new out in the last few weeks. Check out the tracks here, then click on the links to buy the albums.
Blackbeard’s Tea Party – Whip Jamboree
Lead single from Whip Jamboree (due out April 7th), new album from festival favourites Blackbeard’s Tea Party who are a folk rock band from York.
Tracey Curtis with Boff – The Cancer Song
This song from her 3rd album Thoughts In The Dark was co-written and co-performed by Chumbawamba’s Boff. It’s a conversation between two people with a common experience of caring for cancer sufferers. Many thanks to Tracey for agreeing to make this song available for free download to MTDF readers (right click and ‘save as’).
The Bell Peppers – The Hokey Cokey
Manchester surf rock band who featured at #73 in my top 100 tracks from 2012. This is from a new (and free) 4 track EP which they say is “all covers of our most favorite tunes ever”.
The Liverpool trio, who’ve recently posted this track on soundcloud, tell me “We are just finalising the date for our first single release this week, it should be out in the next month. All the info will be on our website http://www.theromleys.co.UK which is also going live this week. We are off to Glastonbury on Friday to play at the launch party for the festival.”
El Toro – Wicked Child
Liverpool psychedelic garage surf combo who’ve just released a splendid 10 track album Creatures and invited you to buy it at any price you choose.
The Imports – Suburban Life
Shades of The Jam ? The Woolpack Demos- also released on a ‘name your price’ basis - is described by the unsigned Leeds trio as a ‘demo album’ and we’re promised that more tracks will be released in the coming weeks.
Blue Rose Code – From Wester Ross to Nova Scotia
North Ten is the debut album of exiled Scot Ross Wilson. Lizzie Ogle provides backing vocals and violin.
Rob Clarke – Sing Us A Song
The Liverpool singer songwriter’s 3rd album About A Time has a laid back acoustic feel. Though he’s also been recording some rock under the moniker Rob Clarke & The Wooltones.
I couldn’t resist throwing in a couple from across the pond for good measure :
RMS Olympic – Whale Biologist (I Calls ‘Em Like I Sees ‘Em)
The lyrics to this are dynamite. RMS Olympic are a one man folk punk band from California, the man being Nathanael Felon. From the album Old Reliable.
Peach Kelli Pop – Panchito Blues II
Infectious powerpop. The band was formed by Ottawa’s Allie Hanlon who’s also the drummer in the band White Wires. The new self-titled album is released today in the UK.
So Bandcamp now has a number of new features. As they put it, “we’re giving fans the ability to showcase their Bandcamp music collections, follow their favorite artists, explore the music of like-minded fans, add items to a wishlist, and more”. Having helped to pilot these features for the last few weeks, I can say yes, they’re welcome, but we want more !
The fans music collections are a nice personal touch, but other than sharing them on facebook, what is one to do with them ?
Browsing random collections by other fans gets a bit pointless after a while.
The search facility in Bandcamp is still badly in need of extra functionality. However I do recommend setting up your own account and “following” bands, which means that you get an email whenever they release anything new.
Here’s a dozen of the best from Bandcamp. All the music below was released in the last three months, and a lot of it’s only available through Bandcamp. Some of it’s stuff that I found through posts on other music blogs, some of it I found through searching Bandcamp (it can be done !).
First, a little bonus, courtesy of the Goat Roper Rodeo Band from North Wales. This is from their debut album due out in a few weeks.
Goat Roper Rodeo Band – Whiskey Lullaby
Garage glamsters from Liverpool release a free download EP
“The dark underbelly of the Newcastle music scene” release a free download single
Singer songwriter from Stafford releases ‘name your price’ EP
Spanish celtic punk
Hungarian fuzz rock with female vocals, from a ‘name your price’ EP
Guitar band from Manchester only formed in April 2012, from a ‘name your price’ EP
From banjo player Leon Hunt’s tribute to bluegrass hero Earl Scruggs who died in March 2012.
Wigan born bluesman Fairhurst describes his new EP as “A collection of songs from my time busking around the streets of the world”
Californian duo release an album of some intriguing cover versions
Garage punk from Michigan
“American Gothic roots music” from young Michigan singer songwriter
Hellraisers from Brighton who sound like they’re influenced by The Cramps.
The Manchester music scene is looking uncommonly strong at the moment. All the tracks below have been released in the last 4 or 5 months. Come back here in 6 weeks time to see how many of them make it into my end-year list.
Music knows no boundaries, and neither does this site.
You’re invited to join me in exploring different kinds of music from across the globe : explosive rock alongside Celtic folk; hip hop and African rhythms; reggae and drum n bass.
All the lists here are my personal selections (though I’d be quite happy to host your own lists, following the same general format – contact me if you’d be interested in this). Obviously the lists aren’t reflective of popular opinion. They’re more respectful of critical opinion, without being a slave to this. Unless a song really blows me away, it’s unlikely to get included; though I’ve seen to it that each list is properly researched and genuinely representative of the subject genre. Each time that I research a list, I discover a whole host of great songs that I’d never heard before, so that I’m constantly expanding my musical knowledge !
The core of the site is the lists, which you can see listed on the right hand side. The latest major list is my 66 greatest raw & raucous garage rock tunes of all time. In a few weeks time though I’ll be publishing my top 100 songs of 2011, which will be an amazing collection of music from around the world. This time for the first time I’m sharing with you before making my final list the songs which are vying for inclusion (artists A-K and L-Z). So you’ll get more time to listen to the songs, plus a chance to help me decide what should be in and what should be out of the final published list.
The podcasts page contains downloadable podcasts of recent music from Merseyside; protest music from recent years; bass heavy club music; Latin American music; and traditional blues music. The latest addition here is a podcast of rowdy folk punk music released in 2011.
For the very latest music, check out the posts on the home page. Slightly older posts are archived in the mp3 corner and Band of the month archive pages.
To keep the site reasonably uncluttered, some lists have now been moved to a separate site – just click on music to die for archive to find them.
Finally, it’s great to get reactions : please leave a comment at the bottom of the page when you’ve had a good look at one of the lists (and let me know of any links that no longer work).