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October 2017

November 2017

Dipping into the Past: John Mayall's part in my journey from blues to folk

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November 2017 update: a former colleague, Bill Stock, wrote this at Facebook the day, prompting me to trawl through the Salut! Live archives and reproduce - from 10 years ago - the little piece that follows ...


"Met my all-time UK blues hero, the legendary John Mayall, at his gig in Southend tonight. Bought a couple of signed CDs before the show (see next photo) and told John I first saw him at Bishop’s Stortford, Herts in the late 60s.

What an amazing gig. After playing non-stop for nearly two hours he and his fab band were given a well-deserved standing ovation by fans. Bear in mind that Mr Mayall was called up for National Service, served in Korea and has been playing the Blues since the Fifties, he sounded as fresh and sprightly as ever. His multi-skilling abilities amazed me. On some numbers he played Roland or Hammond keyboards with his right hand, played a harmonica held again a microphone in his left hand while singing a few verses in between. He also played superb rhythm and lead guitars. No wonder he was made OBE for services to music. And at the end of the show John and the whole band met fans in the foyer to sign more CDs and programmes and pose for more photos. Brilliant."

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Dipping into the Past: Eddi Reader and Burns, bawdiness and romance

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November 2017 update: as I browse the extensive Salut! Live archive for gems from the past to share with a (slightly) expanding audience, live reviews are not obvious choices. I make an exception for Eddi Reader and this corker of a review, by my great friend Pete Sixsmith, of the night he saw her in Durham. Eddi is one of many outstanding artists who were initally and inexcusably omitted from my recent spot of fun with Best Females Singers.

Eddi herself tweeted various names to me: Annie Briggs, Sandy Denny, "the lassies Unthank", Liz Fraser, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Anita O’Day, Siobhan Miller, Amy Winehouse. "Joanna Carlin, also known as Melanie Harold, my personal folk hero", Rachel Sermanni, Bonnie Raitt, Judee Sill and Linda Ronstadt ("Stone Poneys era"). Sandy Denny and one of "the lassies Unthank", Rachel, did head my two main lists and I have also found room for Amy Winehouse (and, belatedly, Eddi). When I told Eddi I had fond memories of her appearance at the Union Chapel in North London - "one of the best gigs I have ever attended" - some years ago, her reply was a classic: "I'm better now."


So here, from Easter 2011, is Pete Sixsmith's review. It passes the test of time with flying colours ...


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Cover Story: (27) Seduction, witchcraft and sometimes savagery on Broomfield Hill - Bellowhead or Dr Faustus



    If this site were a little more erudite, we would probably talk a lot more about the Child ballads.



    The phrase itself evokes a rural scene in which, perhaps, an earnest Oxbridge don called Child humours farm labourers, factory workers, trawlermen, huntsmen and other toiling folk and records, one way or another, the songs they sing.


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Rachel Unthank, Flossie Malavialle, Kathryn Roberts head top 10 female singers, alternative option

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UPDATE: the list has undergone a change; in comes Linda Thompson - a terrible oversight in the previous lists - and out, with regret, must go Dolores Keane ...


If I remain convinced
that lists of this kind are fun, but no more, I admit to reading as avidly as anyone what others consider their best, five best, 10 best albums, types of tree, car models, authors and so on. It doesn't mean they are, just that someone thinks that way and may even think it inconceivable that this or that CD, tree, car, dog, lawnmower, author or whatever was included or excluded by another.

Read the entertaining comments at the originating Facebook page, and as followed up here (including a link to Facebook).

Having relented a couple of times in the ensuing discussion, I thought I'd offer an off-the-wall second selection. I called in my non-mainstream list at Facebook although it is hardly less mainstream than the first one. But I did exclude anyone I had previously included or later added as substitutes.

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Heading the 10 best female singers. Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight - Sandy Denny?

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Buy Janis Joplin's Greatest Hits album at Salut! Live's Amazon record shelf by clicking on this caption

UPDATE: scroll down the article or check Comment No 24 for a revised Top 10 ...

Of Nick Hornby's books - and I've read a few - High Fidelity is comfortably my favourite. If you've read it, too, you'll remember the lists.

He went for Top Fives or Five This/Five That. At a Facebook group called Greatest Albums of All Time and Great Music!! (yes, two exclamation marks), Damian Mitchell doubled it to give his choice of the best 10 female singers.

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fRoots at crossroads: as Ian Anderson bows out, opportunity knocks for a 'philanthropic millionaire'

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I have met Ian Anderson**, the editor of fRoots, on only a handful of occasions but spoken to or corresponded with him on many more. When I wrote about folk music for The Daily Telegraph, he called my work "right column, wrong newspaper", a handle I greatly appreciated. When all that came to end, he continued to be a willing interviewee on a couple of occasions when I needed someone like him to comment for pieces I was writing for other publications - and even published a little piece I offered him.

"Someone like him" indeed. Ian is a one-off and no one I can think of could have kept that magazine going so outstandingly and for so long. Unlike one or two of those commenting on his wish to retire, I do not have every copy of the magazine (not a great excuse but living abroad much of the time has got in the way of better intentions). I do, however, have piles of back issues on my shelves in France and remain a loyal if, in recent years, more intermittent admirer of the magazine and its work.

Now that Ian has decided it is time to move on, I shall let him explain, shamelessly lifting his Facebook announcement but not without repeating, along with a few other short tributes, what I said there: "A glowing example to all of us who have ever tried to use media to raise awareness of very special music. A huge collective thank you is due, Ian."

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