Friday 14 June 2024

IN THE ROOTS OF MUSIC

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Friday 14 June 2024

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Before The Day Is Done. The Story Of Folk Heritage 1968 -1975. – Various Artists.

Sep 24, 2022

North west based and proud of it, Alan Green’s Folk Heritage empire spread its wings through the folk boom years, leaving behind a list of short run albums some of which might well still linger in your collection, some were decent grist, some were wide of the mark. Associated labels which began to sprout covered singer songwriters, folk rock and even country – not dance, the one with cowboy hats y’all. For a while there was no standing still the relentless chronicling of club acts, singers, solo guitarists and those pushing the envelope carried on at pace. The labels moved with the founder to Wales and eventually the whole caboodle ran out of steam.

Despite the claim that this is the first compilation of Folk Heritage’s catalogue there is floating around an equally valid vinyl disc from the 70s which can be purchased for paltry amounts which does at least give a flavour of activities, however this 3 CD box set with booklet and associated memorabilia is really a fine piece of archaeology. Curated by David Wells and produced by the Cherry Red group no stone is unturned in the quest to give the full picture. Some names are better known than others, but it’s half the fun discovering that acts you’ve never heard of let alone heard the music, were actually eminently listenable.  So, Parke a Peak District mutant of Pentangle and Magna Carta deliver the distinctive ‘Dancers Of Stanton Drew,’ Manchester’s Saraband, convince with a couple of tracks of which ‘Close To It All,’ is best, Stuart Marson proves he should have been better known in the singer strummer stakes with ‘Christmas & Tchaikovsky,’ ‘Death & The Lady,’ by Mike Raven and Joan Mills is spooked acid folk.

There’s plenty to discover; names that record collectors dream of crop up regularly, Folkal Point with ‘Sweet Sir Galahad,’ will save you a four figure investment, Janet Jones ‘The Old Woman’s Lament,’ mere hundreds and Gallery who couldn’t make up their mind if they were an electric folk band or not ‘Queen Of Hearts/Icy Acres,’ a similar amount.

Yes, you have to take the rough with the smooth but really this is a box of delights. It chronicles a time and music which even at its highest point was niche or cult. Thankfully some of the acts here have begun to reissue their albums on CD, yet more have licenced to bijou labels- eye watering prices can be avoided, but equally likely you’ll turn up Folk Heritage fare at a car boot sale. That’s the game of vinyl collecting.

‘Before The Day Is Done,’ is a musical tapestry but equally it’s historical angle is just as attractive, the vintage folk ads and home spun publicity/promo sheets are fascinating . Recommended unreservedly.

Simon Jones.

cherryred.co.uk

 

 

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