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Various Artists

Soldiers and Sailors: Folksingers of Australia Volume 2


POL041, 1968

Side One

1. Peggy and the Soldier (trad.) 2.05 - Shayna, Danny and Gordon - unaccompanied
2. The Rambling Soldier (trad.) 3.00 - Danny, accompanied by Mike - concertina
3. Follow Me up to Carlow (P.J.McCall) 1.45 - Danny and Gordon - unaccompanied
4. The Deserter (trad.) 2.40 - Shayna, Danny and Gordon - unaccompanied
5. All Things Are Quite Silent (trad.) 3.05 - Shayna, accompanied by Mike - concertina
6. The Cutty Wren (trad.) 2.25 - Danny and Gordon - unaccompanied
7. Brave Wolfe (trad.) 4.05 - Gordon - vocal and dulcimer
8. Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation (Robert Burns) 3.05 - Gordon - vocal and guitar

Side Two

1. North Sea Holes (Ewan MacColl) 2.15 - Danny and Gordon - guitar accompaniment
2. The Female Rambling Sailor (trad.) 3.25 - Shayna, accompanied by Mike - concertina
3. Admiral Benbow (trad.) 3.15 - Danny - vocal and guitar
4. The Golden Vanity (trad.) 3.25 - Gordon, accompanied by Mike - concertina
5. The Sailor Deceived (trad.) 2.00 - Danny - unaccompanied
6. My Donald (Owen Hand) 2.40 - Shayna, accompanied by Gordon - dulcimer
7. Sally Free and Easy (Cyril Tawney) 2.50 - Danny and Gordon - guitar accompaniment

Shayne Karlin - from Brisbane "A Brisbane Lady"
Gordon McIntyre - from Glasgow "Highly thought-of Scottish Round Singer"
Danny Spooner - from London "Singer and teller of Naughtical Yarns"
Mike Ball - from Bath "The last of the steam-concertina players"


PEGGY AND THE SOLDIER - Martin Carthy says of this song: The unfaithful wife going off to sea with her lover, deserting husband and child, is a common enough subject for ballads, witness the House Carpenter; but the clarity with regard to the state of mind of the characters, missing in many variations on the theme, is crystal clear throughout this particular one. It is uncommon in this form, having been reported from tradition only a couple of times and printed in the Journal of the Folksong Society (EFDSS) in 1930 (No. 34).

THE RAMBLING SOLDIER - This version was collected by Gardiner from George Digweed of Hampshire (1904). Although Parliament never passed an act stopping the use of press-gangs in England the practice gradually faded out, and the "Recruiting Sargeant" with his "gift" of the "King's or Queen's Shilling", became once more the method of acquiring men for the Services. Looking very resplendent in his uniform he would roam the countryside telling fine tales of adventure and great deeds with the object of enticing the young men to enlist. However, it seems in this song at least his job wasn't "all work and no play". Mike's accompaniment to this boastful song is appropriately playful.

FOLLOW ME UP TO CARLOW - The words of this stirring song of battle were written by P.J. McCall, describing the great victory over the English by the Irish at Glenmalure in the late 16th Century. It is said the tune was first played by the pipers of Feagh MacHugh O'Byrne, the hero of the battle, who then led his army against Carlow.

THE DESERTER - The constant wars between England and France during the 18th Century caused the supply of new recruits into the British army to be of prime importance. A law was passed empowering officers of the King to take men (under press warrant) from almost any walk of life to serve in the field or on board one of His Majesty's ships. This song, full of pathos, dates probably to the mid-1700's and tells of a young man who suffered such a fate and of his attempts to desert.

ALL THINGS ARE QUITE SILENT - Appalling conditions on board ships of the "king's Navee" in the 18th and early 19th Centuries meant plenty of work for the men of the press-gangs. After having raised as many recruits as possible by posting patriotic bills in the market towns around the seaport, the captains of the ships of the line would send out press-gangs to search the courts, the streets and the inns. If these methods brought in insufficient numbers they would not stop short of dragging a man from his marriage bed. The haunting first verse, where the press-gang breaks in on a scene of idyllic peace and tranquility, recalls the more familiar ballad "The Lowlands of Holland". But the stoic dignity of the wife in this song is in marked contrast to the violent grief of the other girl. The song has been collected only once in British tradition, by R. Vaughan-Williams in Sussex in 1904. The concertina here emulates the effect achieved by the medieval portative-organ used to accompany British folk singer, Shirley Collins.

THE CUTTY WREN - Dating from the 14th Century, this song was almost certainly a magical or totem song. In the opinion of A.L.Lloyd it took on a strong revolutionary meaning during the peasants' revolt 1381. In countless legends the wren features as a tyrant and it would seem that, in this song, it became the symbol of baronial property, for which preparation for the seizure and redistribution to the peasants was to be carried out in the greatest secrecy. Hence the symbolism and hidden meaning. An excellent version of this ancient song has been collected by N. O'Connor from Simon McDonald of Crewick, Victoria, 1963.

bRAVE WOLFE - After weeks of futile attempts to take Quebec by first bombarding the town, then by trying to force the French, led by Montcalm, from their position near the town, Wolfe and about 4000 men - all that was left from his original 8000 troops - landed at night about two miles upstream. They climbed the Heights of Abraham and next morning drew up in battle array behind the French. Montcalm sent his army to "smash the English". However, the English held their fire until their foes were within forty yards range, completely routing the French. Within minutes the battle was over. Wolfe, who was mortally wounded in the battle, was reported as saying as he breathed his last, "I shall die happy". Montcalm, who was also killed, is not reported as saying anything!

SUCH A PARCEL OF ROGUES IN A NATION - The Union of 1707, bitterly opposed by many Scots, inspired much political balladry. This song, written by Burns, and published in Volume IV of "Scots Musical Museum", accuses the pro-Union faction in the Scottish Parliament of literally being "bought and sold for English gold". A pro-Union Whig song of 1707, which also uses the phrase "parcel of rogues" was probably written in reply to the Jacobite song.

NORTH SEA HOLES - This song, written by Ewan McColl, forms part of the narration in the musical documentary "Singing the Fishing", one of the radio ballads produced by McColl and Charles Parker for the B.B.C. The song describes the work of the herring fishermen who live along the east coast of England and Scotland.

THE FEMALE RAMBLING SAILOR - Dr. Edgar Waters says of this song: The story of a girl dressing as a man and serving as a sailor in the navy is certainly not an uncommon one in English broadside ballads of the 18th and 19th Centuries. But although this ballad of the Female Rambling Sailor is on a familiar enough theme, I have not been able to trace it in the broadside ballads. It seems sufficiently clear from the style of the ballad that it is English and of 18th or early 19th Century origin. The melody also appears to be English and is of rather an interesting and unusual construction. This version of the song was collected by R. Michell and N. O'Connor from Mrs. Catherine Peatey of Brunswick, Victoria in 1959.

ADMIRAL BENBOW - This song refers to the action of August 19-24th, 1702, between Benbow and the French squadron under Admiral du Casse off the coast of Santa Maria in the West Indies, Benbow, deserted by two of his ships, the Greenwich and Defiance, engaged and defeated the French. Severely wounded, he returned to his base where he caused Captains Kirby and Wade to be shot for desertion. He later died from the wounds he received. Benbow was affectionately known to his men as the "Brother Tar" because of his service before the mast as an ordinary seaman before his promotion.

THE GOLDEN VANITY - In some versions of this widely-known ballad the enemy is Turkish or French or, as in this case, Spanish, but rarely does it end happily. This one, collected by A.G. Gilchrist from W. Bolton of Lancashire, who explained the "black bear skin" was the cabin boy's covering at night and that he wished to wear it as a disguise from the enemy.

THE SAILOR DECEIVED - This three verse lament, from the Hammond and Gardiner collection, is a fragment of a far longer ballad. Despite its brevity, few songs on the theme of the jilted sailor capture the heartbreak so completely.

MY DONAL - Written by Scots singer, Owen Hand, himself a sailor. This beautiful song tells of the fears and loneliness of the women awaiting the return of their men who sail "southwards in search of the whale".

SALLY FREE AND EASY - Cyril Tawney, an ex submariner fron Plymouth, Devon, says the song refers to a "little affair" he had out in Malta. In its verse form this was an attempt at an English equivalent of the blues. To avoid the blues rhythm he used an accompaniment suggested by the throbbing sound of a diesel engine when a submarine is "doing a charge" in harbour.

NOTES COMPILED BY THE SINGERS - 1968


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