“Broadside Ballads (London: 1600 - 1700)” by Ewan MacColl with Peggy Seeger, Alf Edwards and Alfie Kahn - album review

TJR says

The restless Ewan MacColl continues to explore folk music traditions, this time looking back to the broadside ballads of the 17th century. The set features Ewan MacColl (vocals), Peggy Seeger (guitar, banjo, autoharp), Alfie Kahn (piccolo flute, flute, tin whistle) and Alf Edwards (concertina, ocarina, tabor).

As Wikipedia tells us:
A broadside (also known as a broadsheet) is a single sheet of inexpensive paper printed on one side, often with a ballad, rhyme, news and sometimes with woodcut illustrations. They were one of the most common forms of printed material between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly in Britain, Ireland and North America and are often associated with one of the most important forms of traditional music from these countries, the ballad.

Music critic Peter Gammond wrote:
Although the broadsides occasionally printed traditional 'rural' ballads, the bulk of them were of urban origin, written by the journalistic hacks of the day to cover such news as a robbery or a hanging, to moralize, or simply to offer entertainment. In their diversity they covered all the duties of the modern newspaper. The use of crude verse or doggerel was common, as this was thought to heighten the dramatic impact. The verses themselves would be based on the rhythms of various traditional airs that were in common circulation, sometimes credited, occasionally with the melody line printed. This gave the verses shape and substance and helped to make them memorable.

In his liner notes, Ewan MacColl wrote:
That they were popular with the masses, no one can doubt; that they were unpopular with the establishment is born out by successive acts of legislation against 'pipers, fiddlers and minstrels' and by the many repressive laws directed against them in England and Scotland.

The pieces were lengthy, averaging several minutes each on this recording, even with some ballads being reduced in half to be digestable (or to fit the LP?) My own personal favourite, “King Lear And His Three Daughters”, clocks in at ten minutes, despite only 15 of the 23 original stanzas being sung. Basically they all die, but you'll need to pay attention to “read all about it”.

Very well done to Ewan MacColl for this fine endeavour.

The Jukebox Rebel
10-May-2018


A1 [03:09] 7.0.png Ewan MacColl with accompaniments by Peggy Seeger, Alf Edwards and Alfie Kahn - Room For Company (Traditional) Folk
A2 [08:00] 6.6.png Ewan MacColl with accompaniments by Peggy Seeger, Alf Edwards and Alfie Kahn - Pity’s Lamentation (Traditional) Folk
A3 [05:52] 6.4.png Ewan MacColl with accompaniments by Peggy Seeger, Alf Edwards and Alfie Kahn - There’s Nothing To Be Had Without Money (Traditional) Folk
A4 [04:53] 6.3.png Ewan MacColl with accompaniments by Peggy Seeger, Alf Edwards and Alfie Kahn - The Midwife’s Ghost (Traditional) Folk
B1 [04:52] 6.0.png Ewan MacColl with accompaniments by Peggy Seeger, Alf Edwards and Alfie Kahn - A Merry Progress To London (Traditional) Folk
B2 [05:42] 5.9.png Ewan MacColl with accompaniments by Peggy Seeger, Alf Edwards and Alfie Kahn - London’s Lottery (Traditional) Folk
B3 [05:33] 5.8.png Ewan MacColl with accompaniments by Peggy Seeger, Alf Edwards and Alfie Kahn - London Mourning In Ashes (Traditional) Folk
B4 [10:18] 7.3.png Ewan MacColl with accompaniments by Peggy Seeger, Alf Edwards and Alfie Kahn - King Lear And His Three Daughters (Traditional) Folk




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