Monday, March 2, 2009

Burl Ives "Australian Folk Songs" 1958 LP

LP MP3 Rip 192-224VBR
Track List
1. Wild Rover No More
2. Click Go the Shears
3. The Wild Colonial Boy
4. A Nautical Yarn
5. Across the Western Plains I Must Wander
6. Waltzing Matilda
7. Oh! The Springtime, It Brings on the Shearing
8. The Station Cook
9. The Dying Stockman
10. Botany Bay
11. The Old Bullock Dray
12. The Stockman's Last Bed

Burl Ives (1909-1995) was brought up in America in a family with strong British Isles and US folk traditions. He was a professional performer by the mid 1930s and had his own radio show by 1940. Although he was also a good actor even achieving an Oscar as Best Supporting Male Actor (1958), folk music appears to have been his primary passion. His visits to England and Australia in the 1950s were very influential to the local folk movements.
He visited Australia in 1952 following an invitation from the Australian Broadcasting Commission where, with music professor Dr Percy Jones, he compiled a book of Australian Folk Songs, some of which he recorded and which were released on a Decca LP entitled "Australian Folk Songs" in the USA in 1958. His earlier performances of Australian folk songs in Australia combined with the release of the LP made it clear that Australian folk songs were something that all Australians could generally be proud of.
His basic style of performance was also highly refreshing with the accompaniment for most songs being just Ives on his guitar and even one without any accompaniment. The glaring exception is that revamped "semi-official" Waltzing Matilda version (which I so heartily despise - give me the original any day!) and it is given a full "anthem" treatment.
There has been a rip of the original album floating around for several years but it has been of a fairly poor quality. Incidentally, the cover of the original LP is hilarious. In a desperate hunt to get an Australian looking cover, Ives is pictured against the background of an Australian tourism poster communing with a toy koala bear stuck in an American birch tree whilst looking ever so elegant with some sort of stick - perhaps a vague reference to Denis O'Reilly's blackthorne stick? I've included a copy of the original LP graphics along with the Australian ones. This rip was taken from a "cheapie' Australian re-release of the original LP under licence and, very sensibly, with a generic type cover (Australian artwork also included). The LP ripped nicely considering the age of the original material.
It is greatly to Burl Ives credit that not once does he attempt any form of accent other than his own. His American accent can be a little disconcerting with these Australian songs but this is far preferable to faking it. It's also much better than born and bred Australians trying to sing some Australian songs with Irish accents (a variation of Bogle's 'plastic Paddy' syndrome). Get this one even if you only do so out of a sense of folk history.

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3 comments:

  1. Many thanks. I've always liked Burl Ives' voice. Not a bad actor either.

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  2. I don't think it is a false memory but I recall listening to a Burl Ives recording of Australian songs in the late 50s and hearing one about "cockies", farmers trying to earn a living on poor Australian ground. The song may have been "The Cockies of Bungaree" but I am not sure. I don't see it on this album. Is there another Burl Ives Australian collection?
    Sageprod
    Petaluma, CA

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  3. Hi, I reckon that you might be thinking of A.L. ("Bert") Lloyd who recorded the Bungaree song on his 1956 "Australian Bush Songs" (note same LP name) and subsequently on "The Old Bush Songs" 1960 LP and 1995 CD and also four other collections. We've been looking for a decent recording of the 1956 album for many years.

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