Garry Gillard > music > Danny Spooner > A Wench, a Whale and a Pint of Good Ale

A Wench, a Whale and a Pint of Good Ale


Martyn Wyndham-Read, Danny Spooner, Gordon MacIntyre, Peter Dickie

Score Records POL 038 (LP, Australia, 1966)

Side 1

The Farmer's Boy (4.09)
The Apprentice Song (2.33)
The Miller and the Maid (2.05)
Er Fa La La Lo (3.20)
The Devil and the Ploughman (2.31)
Greenland Whale Fishery (3.52)
The Hog's-Eye Man (1.50)
Ale Ale Glorious Ale (1.46)

Side 2

Banks of the Roses (4.14)
I Drew My Ship (2.35)
The Nightingale(3.03)
Whip Jamboree (3.32)
The Oggie Man (No More) (2.42)
The Coast of Peru (3.47)
Ay Waukin Oh (2.53)
Farewell to Tarwarthie (3.25)

All tracks trad. except 'The Oggie Man' - Cyril Tawney, and 'The Apprentice Song' - Ian Campbell.


Album details are thanks to Reinhard Zierke, plus some of the song lyrics.

The following notes are from this Mudcat Café thread: 1960's Australian Folk Albums and I thank the writer, alinact.

The records are actually on Score Records and recorded by Peter Mann Recordings, 294 Little Collins Street, Melbourne. I think Peter Mann founded Discurio Records.

The first album is A Wench, a Whale and a Pint of Good Ale (serial number POL 038) and features Martyn Wyndham-Read, Danny Spooner, Gordon MacIntyre and Peter Dickie. The (back) sleeve notes read:

From Burl Ives to Pete Seeger to Bob Dylan, the Australian Folksinging Revival has been a primarily American-orientated phenonemon. The influences of American instrumental techniques, American pop folkies, American "protest" singers, and so on, have all tended to predominate. In relatively recent times, both because of, and in spite of this pervasive American influence, Australian folk music has come into its own, yet all along, the folkmusic of the British Isles (with the possible exception of Ireland) has been under-emphasised to the point of neglect. The Revival audience's acquaintance with British folk music has hardly extended beyond the songs contained in theSing Out Reprints, or the work of a tiny handful of local and Anglo-Saxon expatriate singers - Brian Mooney, Paul Marks, Martyn Wyndham-Read, Declan Affley, Brisbane's "Wayfarers" and a couple more. Knowledge of British contemporary song writing, other than the Lennon - McCartney variety, seems to have been confined to the MacColl - Seeger "New Britain Gazette" records on Folkways.

This record, then, is intended as a change, in that, while not a consciously representative selection, it provides some idea of the richness and variety of British folk music.

There are songs of love and songs of booze and a Child Ballad of an ever topical theme. There are songs of the sea, both the working shanties and the forebitters or foc'sle songs of the off-duty hours. And there are songs, contemporary in content, more taditional in style and structure, which have been produced by the British Revival - the work of songwriters such as MacColl, Dominic Behan, Matt McGinn, Stan Kelly, Leon Rosselson, Sydney Carter and so on, represented here by Cyril Tawney and Ian Campbell.

All that's really missing is a "big ballad" and a touch of bawdry, but that's excuse enough for another record.


Martyn Wyndham-Read: Originally from Sussex, has become one of the most popular folk-singers in the country over the last 4-5 years. A regular performer at Frank Traynor's (Melbourne), he has appeared on radio and T.V., at folk concerts and at numerous folksong coffee lounges. As well as being a fine performer of English and Scottish folksongs, Martyn has become a highly regarded interpreter of Australian material, and is currently working on his second L.P. composed entirely of Australian traditional songs.

Danny Spooner: A Londoner by birth, has been in Australia for 3 years. Before this he worked on a whaler (when many of the sea songs, for which he is noted, were learned) as a deep sea salvage tug skipper and as a lumberjack. He now sings regularly at folk places and in concerts in Melbourne, and in the last few months has teamed up with Gordon.

Gordon McIntyre: From Glasgow, first came to Australia some 6 years ago. In 1963 he returned to Scotland, travelled through Europe, became a professional folksinger and arrived back here at the beginning of this year. He has a wide repertoire of traditional and modern songs of the British Isles and is an accomplished guitarist.

The merit of the performances on this recordis that the singers do not impose themselves on the songs, wrenching them out of shape to suit styles which have no relation to traditional music as so many others have done; rather they let the songs speak for themselves. The singing is strong, sensitive, vigorous, meditative - whatever the song dictates. Where instrumental accompanimentis needed it is used with discretion, and never displayed for its own sake. All in all these three performers reflect the influence of traditional singers and their own respect for traditional music without being pedantic in a rigid adherence to particular traditional singing practices ( for example, their use of harmony in the shanties whereas this seems to have been the exception rather than the rule among all but negro seamen). For, as A.L.Lloyd has commented, "a tradition that remains fixed and does not evolve becomes atrophied". What must be achieved, is an extension to the tradition from within its own (somewhat nebulous) boundaries. In this process of internal revitalisation singers such as Danny Spooner, Gordon McIntyre and Martin Wyndham-Read, play a vital role indeed.


1. The Farmer's Boy (4.09): A great favourite of Martyn's and once described by the collector Baring Gould as "One of the most popular and widely known folk songs in England".

2. The Apprentice Song (2.33): A modern industrial song by Ian Campbell, leader of Britain's foremost folk group. Sung by Martyn.

3. The Miller and the Maid (2.05): Gordon put the tune to a text collected by Cecil Sharp and printed in James Reeves' "The Idiom of the People". It is a good example of what Reeves has called the "lingua Franca", the colloquial sexual symbolism of the English countryside.

4. Er Fa La La Lo (3.20): A traditional Irish song with the message of a protest song written yesterday.

5. The Devil and the Ploughman (2.31): The theme of the nagging wife who proves too troublesome for the Devil, is certainly a popular one, being widespread in European, North American and even Indian folklore. Martyn's version is the common Sussex one of the song better known as "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (Child 279).

6. Greenland Whale Fishery (3.52): Otherwise known as "The Spermwhale Fishery", this is the classic forebitter of the British whalers. It is much older than the date given here, broadside versions going back to 1725.

7. The Hog's-Eye Man (1.50): "The words of this shanty being of the vilest are not fit to print" (Frederick Harlow). A common complaint but this capstain shanty, probably of negro origin, seems to have been particularly colourful. Hogs-eyes were barges used on the Californian coast during the rushes of '49. Danny is the shantyman.

8. Ale Ale Glorious Ale (1.46): A drinking song from the south of England, led by Martyn, and sung with obvious relish by all three.


1. Banks of the Roses (4.14): An Irish traditional ballad sung by Martyn. Colin O'Lochlainn ("Irish Street Ballads") prints a version learned from his mother.

2. I Drew My Ship (2.35): First collected in the north of England by John Stockoe. Probably a fragment.

3. The Nightingale (3.03): Apparently a West Country song, it was first printed in Bell's "Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry of England" (1857). Birds are often of symbolic importance in folksong (e.g. Child notes that the nightingale was sometimes regarded as a relayer of messages between separated lovers).

4. Whip Jamboree (3.32): A capstain or windlass shanty, this was mainly popular as a homewardbound song. Some experts give it a negro origin, others detect an Eastern influence. Anyway, its an exciting, if somewhat expurgated, song. Peter Dickie weighs in on the chorus.

5. The Oggy Man (No More) (2.42): Written by a fine West Country folk singer, Cyril Tawney. Peter Kennedy comments "This song laments the passing of a local institution, the oggy man (seller of Cornish pasties) who were driven out by hot dog stands about 1950, and also serves as a warning to sailors that those things they may take for granted when they leave port may not be the same when they return".

6. Coast of Peru (3.47): A favourite song of the whalers who rounded the Horn into the South Pacific, a run considered more dangerous and less rewarding than those in northern waters.

7. Ay Waukin Oh (2.53): Martyn sings this beautiful traditional Scottish song. The title is Gaelic for "Ever Awake".

8. Farewell to Tarwathie (3.25): Written about the middle of the last century by a Scot, George Scroggie, this song, gentle and reflective but tinged with bitterness, is one of the most beautiful of all sea songs.


Garry Gillard | New: 22 October, 2010 | Now: 28 June, 2019