“Scots Folk Songs” by Ewan MacColl accompanied by Alf Edwards and Brian Daly - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1956Album Chart of the Decade: 1950s

TJR says

As Ewan tells in his sleeve notes, the collecting and publication of Scots folk music has been something of a national sport for the last two hundred and fifty years and, despite the best efforts of the puritans, polite society was not immune to the charms of the vernacular writings. The strength of these auld songs is most apparent here and, for me, this is a much more robust offering than the preceding Riverside LP from earlier in the same year; Ewan's on great form, effortlessly veering from the sensitive to the rousing to the playful as the song demands. The lass who would become his life partner, Peggy Seeger, appears with him for the first time on a number of tracks, albeit she's not included in the credits. Peggy's banjo and vocal accompaniment is to the fore on the enjoyable opener, “The Barnyards O' Delgaty” - it's the first sign of what will be a very fruitful partnership. “Davie Faa”, a Scots variant of “The Jolly Beggar”, is another early album highlight, a tale of a rascal tinker who steals the maidenhood of a wealthy farmer's daughter, leaving the poor lass in the family way. Suitably, there's a melancholic tone to Ewan's delivery. Best track on side 1 is “The Wee, Wee German Lairdie”; the Scots Jacobites had endless fun taunting George I in song and you can't help but chuckle as you listen and imagine how they viewed the feckless Hanoverian back in 1714: "But the very dogs in England's court, They bark an' howl in German… he's pu'd the rose o' English loons, an' broken the harp o' Irish clowns, but our Scotch thistle will jag his thumbs, this wee, wee German lairdie." The very best is saved 'til the end of side two with “Lassie Wi' The Yellow Coatie”, a gentle love ballad delivered in a trembling vocal reminiscent of the great A.P. Carter and “The Bonnie Lass O' Fyvie”, in which a troop of Irish dragoons ride into Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, and the captain, Ned, falls for a beautiful blonde chambermaid by the name of Peggy. Alas, it's an unrequited love and poor Ned dies of a broken heart, seemingly within a matter of days. And he calls himself a soldier? Pffft. Rising above this lame behaviour, Ewan sings in the first person, as tough as an old soldier's boots. In whatever guise, he's a star turn throughout this fine set.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [02:12] 7.0.png Ewan MacColl - The Barnyards O’ Delgaty (Traditional) Folk
A2 [01:42] 6.3.png Ewan MacColl - Roy’s Wife Of Aldivalloch (Traditional, Elizabeth Grant) Folk
A3 [01:27] 5.4.png Ewan MacColl - The Reel O’ Stumpie (Robert Burns) Folk
A4 [03:46] 7.2.png Ewan MacColl - Davie Faa (Traditional) Folk
A5 [00:56] 5.1.png Ewan MacColl - Tail Toddle (Traditional) Folk
A6 [02:28] 6.1.png Ewan MacColl - Charlie O Charlie (Traditional) Folk
A7 [02:27] 6.3.png Ewan MacColl - Nicky Tams (Traditional) Folk
A8 [02:03] 7.5.png Ewan MacColl - The Wee, Wee German Lairdie [1956 version] (Traditional) Folk
A9 [03:20] 5.5.png Ewan MacColl - Friendless Mary (Traditional) Folk
B1 [02:32] 6.9.png Ewan MacColl - Johnnie Lad (Traditional) Folk
B2 [00:47] 5.8.png Ewan MacColl - Kissin’s No Sin (Traditional) Folk
B3 [01:43] 5.9.png Ewan MacColl - Maggie Lauder (Traditional) Folk
B4 [01:45] 6.6.png Ewan MacColl - The Highland Muster Roll (Traditional) Folk
B5 [01:50] 5.5.png Ewan MacColl - The Wars O’ Germany (Traditional, William Motherwell) Folk
B6 [02:48] 7.1.png Ewan MacColl - Johnnie Cope [1956 version] (Traditional) Folk
B7 [03:18] 7.6.png Ewan MacColl - Lassie Wi’ The Yellow Coatie (Traditional, James Duff) Folk
B8 [04:27] 8.3.png Ewan MacColl - The Bonnie Lass O’ Fyvie (Traditional) Folk
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