Now we're five: Cover Story so far - Dylan, Baez, McTell, Steeleye, Nanci Griffith, Kate Rusby
Desert Island revisited: the 10 folk tracks I would take please, Kirsty

Dipping into the past: (1) Jez Lowe and Orwell's friend Jack Common

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June 2017 Update: this item on Jez Lowe appeared six years ago, and referred to a review from four years before that, but my admiration for the singer and his wonderful observations on life and events remains undiminished. Check out his own site for more information. Otherwise, what you see below is essentially what was published in 2011 ...

Right, it's time to start filling the pages of Salut! Live and I can think of no better way, other than persuading Pete Sixsmith to submit some more live reviews, than to look into the archives. Any visitor to this site can explore what has appeared here by navigating the sidebars, but I have also written on folk and related topics for various publications.

Here is one from my days as folk bloke at The Daily Telegraph. I was put in mind of mentioning Jez Lowe again by a discussion at a Facebook group, I Love Folk Music. I included him in my own list of artists and writers I especially admire and that started a mini-discussion within a discussion. So I delved into the DT files and found this review, written in May 2007. I had already left the paper by then - a euphemism for having been booted out - but was still encouraged by the arts pages to submit regular CD reviews: Jack Common's Anthem Tantobie Records
The routine view of Jez Lowe - that he is an unrivalled observer of north-eastern working-class life - is kind but incomplete. A profoundly impressive new album shows how much broader is the scope of his interests. Contributions he made to the BBC series, The Radio Ballads, which are included here, deal with universal pictures of shipbuilding, seafaring communities and, on The Miami, the vicious loyalist attack on the Miami Showband in Northern Ireland in 1976. The North is never far away - Jack Common, the central theme, was a Geordie writer befriended by Orwell - but there are songs, too, inspired by Yeats and Heaney, and by the road, and their quality is consistently high. Lowe has earned the right to be counted among England's finest contemporary songwriters.

I went on to list the album among my best for 2007, with these words posted here at the time:

The people at Proper Distribution suggested that I was the chief culprit in a syndrome I myself had identified – treating Lowe as an unrivalled observer of north-eastern working-class life but failing to recognise his broader scope. That is not completely true, even though I am a great admirer of his ability to chronicle northern life. But let me say loudly and clearly that with songs inspired by Yeats and Heaney, this album shows the impressive depth of one England's finest contemporary songwriters.

Jez2 This, and a more recent Jez album that includes a lot of classics, Northern Echoes, can be bought at the usual knockdown prices by clicking here my Amazon link.


Bill Taylor

I didn't know Jez Lowe at all until this. But there's a ton of his stuff on Spotify so I'm working my way through it now and loving it. Thank you. If you've never read Jack Common's two novels, they're worth seeking out, especially The Ampersand.

Colin Randall

There's a great line in one of his songs about arriving at an airport in Australia and being asked which football team he supported. The questioner was presumably expecting to hear Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool or similar by way of answer. "Hartlepool United," replied Jez.

Bill Taylor

Hence, no doubt, The Monkey's Revenge!

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