Saturday, January 29, 2011

Shirley Jacobs "Songs of Love and Freedom" LP 1975

A real eclectic mix this LP featuring Australian traditionals, an early Bob Dylan, a soundtrack, an Australianised  version of Woody Guthrie's  "This Land is your Land", a traditional Scottish song, a song about Australian Rules Football to the tune of Percy Grainger's "English Country Garden", a childhood lost song reminiscent of Rolf Harris's "Two Little Boys", a song about loving through prison bars, three popular songs of the 60s and 70s, and a Henry Lawson poem set to music  - all receiving professional backing occasionally with some great instrumentation spoiled a little by too much woodblock percussion overall.

Shirley Jacobs was a Melbourne folk singer and anti-Vietnam activist and put out at least ten LPs on various labels mainly featuring folk music. I think this one may have been her last LP (anyone know better?) .

With Australia out of Vietnam in December 1972, Shirley went on to become involved with prisoner issues at Pentridge Gaol in Melbourne where she performed regularly eventually falling in love with a prisoner, Ronald "Joey" Hamilton, a painter and docker and prison activist.  The "Love and Freedom" title reflects this situation but only two tracks have any possible relevancy to that theme.  The cover portrait is of a sketch drawn by a prisoner of "B" Division.
Her LPs are somewhat difficult to come by and I'd love to have copies of her early albums. Can anyone help?

Tracks in order are Annie's Song, Ranchin' in the Evenin', Sad-eyed Teddy Bear, Cross of the South (rare traditional), Green Green Grass of Home, Love over the Walls, Cockies of Bungaree, This Land is Your Land (Oz version), Melbourne Football Song, Blowin' in the Wind, Wild Mountain Thyme, Scarlet Ribbons, and Bush Girl.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Denis Gibbons "Folk Songs of Australia Vol 1 ~ Convicts and Early Settlers" LP 1974

This was the first LP in Denis Gibbons three-part "Folk Songs of Australia" series (Volume 3 has recently been posted on this blog).  This particular LP is a stereo version copied by Brendan of Tasmania and subsequently 'cleaned' by me  Many thanks Brendan.
Most of the tracks are the regular standards but there are also two rarer songs, namely, The Last Farewell to Stirling and The Catalpa. Other tracks are Botany Bay, Jim Jones, Bold Jack Donohue, Black Velvet Band, Old Bullock Dray, Wild Rover, Drover's Dream, Andy's Gone with Cattle, Old Bark Hut, and Wallaby Stew.
An interesting point that I perhaps should have raised far earlier is that of so many of our folk songs referring to convicts traveling to, and suffering at, Botany Bay.  The fact is that, although Botany Bay was selected as the intended first site of Australian settlement, on arrival a quick survey identified that it was unsuitable for settlement.  A search of the nearby coast discovered Sydney Harbour and the first fleet quickly moved to the site of modern Sydney and set up camp there. Nowadays, Botany Bay is part of southern suburban Sydney.
Another issue is that some of the convict-related songs make much of the cruelty and deprivation suffered by convicts e.g regular routine beatings, slavery and brutality.  There are exceptions but the far greater majority of convicts were better-off in Australia and many prospered while still "serving" their sentences.  Then, the lower classes in Great Britain suffered considerable hardship and very limited opportunity which is why the crime rate was so high anyway.  Initially, convicts were terrified of transportation to Australia because the Government went to great lengths to portray transportation as a deterrent to crime.  By the early 1800s, sufficient convicts had returned to British Isles and their portrayal of the conditions in the colony markedly lessened the fear of transportation and many convicts would formally request transportation.  Contrary to common belief, convicts of British citizenship were allowed to return to Great Britain after serving their time.  Some did but most opted to remain in Australia settling down to often hard, but far more satisfactory lives compared to their peers in the homeland.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Denis Gibbons "Shearing Songs" 1962 EP

Gazza of Lithgow very kindly purchased this EP and forwarded it to me to rip a few months ago.  I was very happy to receive the EP thinking I might be able to get some cleaner version of identically named tracks on some of Gibbons LPs.  When I started working on it this week, I was very surprised to find that these are different versions which preceded those of the same name on subsequent LPs so this is a great find.  Many thanks Gazza.
Tracks are:
1. Flash Jack from Gundagai
2. Springtime it brings on the Shearing
3. Lime Juice Tub
4. Back Block Shearer (usually Backblock Shearer)
5. Another Fall of Rain

As expected there is a little distortion but a fairly good result from a 1962 EP.

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