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August 2017

Cover Story: (18) Sheepcrook and Black Dog. Steeleye Span or Offa Rex

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Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/poptech/10468763423/

Never let it be said that Salut! Live is stuck in the past. Why, I'm even aware of the fuss Jethro Tull are causing.

But yes, it is important to look at artists much younger than those we saw as young 'uns ourselves back in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. It is an especially enjoyable pursuit when fresh talent takes a new look at the same material our older heroes performed.

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Cover Story: (17) Reconciliation. Ron Kavana, Dick Gaughan, the Cottars or Voice Squad

Long, long ago, I drank cup after cup of tea in the home of a charming woman, influential in a highly sensitive area of what she called the north of Ireland and the maps identify as Northern Ireland. We discussed burning issues affecting her troubled land.

I had a reason for being there which even now might be inappropriate and perhaps unsafe to explain. In order to bring to wider attention a grievance (with the authorities) that she was eager to expose, I needed - as a reporter representing a fair, as it was then, but conservative newspaper - to be sure in my own mind that she was personally hostile to terrorism.

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Cover Story: (16) Girl From The North Country. Altan or Bob Dylan - a close-run thing

Forget the striking melodic similarities with Boots of Spanish Leather, Bob Dylan's Girl From The North Country is a great song. But the same debate arises: is Dylan/s version better than an Irish interpretation? The song has a tangled history. An English folk legend, Martin Carthy, was hugely influential in Dylan's composition of the song after the latter's first visit to London in 1962. Wikipedia says a little coyly that Dylan "drew upon for aspects of the melody and lyric's arrangement" on the English traditional Scarborough Fair to the extent of including the concluding line of the chorus, "Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine". All of which has echoes of Carthy's protracted but eventually resolved grudge against Paul Simon over the Simon and Garfunkel hit Scarborough Fair.

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Song of the Day Revisited: Dave Swarbrick with Fairport Convention ... Now Be Thankful


August 2017 update: I published this in November 2014 as one of a number of features based on a previous Song of the Day series. Dave Swarbrick was then still alive but died in June 2016. He was 75 and had won many additional years of life after serious illness (and that premature obituary).

So please bear in mind that the following article was written before that unhappy event. Also, not all links will necessarily work as they did back then - the Telegraph, for example, has retreated behind a paywall and is now either charging for peep at my old blog or has swept it from the site ...


One more thing need to be said about the return of Salut! Live's 2011 Song of the Day series, which I am currently reproducing and in some cases updating.

Not only will the sequence change, but there won't be something every day. Three years ago, I found that committing myself to daily regime was a sure route to insanity.

But in the flurry of renewed interest in what I hope is a worthwhile exercise, I will post as often as I feel able - sometimes updating, sometimes not.

And this item was unique: the only instalment where I invited the performer to select his/her/their entry.

Look above to to see what the incomparable fiddler and folk rocker Dave Swarbrick chose, and read on for further explanation.

Otherwise, I am just chuffed to bits that a man who 10 years ago seemed at death's door, unsure whether he would be deemed fit enough for the major life-saving surgery he needed, made a good recovery and remains a force to be reckoned with, combative in his pronouncements at Facebook and active on stage (see http://www.ents24.com/eastbourne-events/under-ground-theatre/dave-swarbrick/3938000 for details of a gig at Eastbourne on Saturday (Nov 20) ...

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Dipping into the Past: John Mayall, Eric Clapton and Rambling on My Mind

Aug 2017 update: the reason I am promoting archived material is that when it first appeared, Salut! Live had a pitifully small readership. It's not huge now but is a good deal larger and I believe there is content that is worth another airing. When I used an office gym, I noticed that music was not a great way to get me through the monotony of exercise. Listening at the same time could even put me off a much-loved album. One exception was my CD of the old John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers LP. There are one or two tracks that leave me cold but it is generally an album of the highest quality and holds enduring appeal. Here is how I described it for my original Song of the Day series back in 2011 ...

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Cover Story: (15) The Queen and the Soldier. Suzanne Vega or Kathryn Roberts and Kate Rusby

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Can, for once, a draw be called?
I have already said Cover Story is not intended as a series of duels. It is merely a vehicle for alerting Salut! Live readers to - or, more likely - reminding them of the options music offers, the different versions of the same songs, though personal preferences are inevitable.

I have always admired The Queen and the Soldier, a long anti-war ballad written by Suzanne Vega, but had until a few hours ago heard only the version by Kate Rusby and Kathryn Roberts on their eponymous 1995 recording that I made my album of the decade back when reviewing folk music for The Daily Telegraph. Roberts is the dominant voice on this track but Rusby - for once in the background - adds exquisite harmonies.

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