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Mooney’s fab fiddle and vocals. The film is sung with the devotion to the text that was
quality is not consistent throughout – at least a Bert trademark. To him, the story of a song
three cameras are used, each with different was everything. He delivered it with precise
chromatic settings so that when switching from diction and a majestic sense of pace, making
one view to another, the colours of shirts worn every piece a stand alone drama, wringing the
by the performers keeps changing. Scorsese heart with Died For Love, taking us on a whale
has nowt to worry about (but as a ’bonus’ chase in Coast of Peru so realistically we can
DVD, it seems churlish to lump too much feel the salt spray, and gripping us with the
criticism – particularly as it’s the only chance vengeful power of The Death of Bill Brown, one
that some people have to see the band in a live of the highlights of CD 1.
environment). The true gems are on the CD.
When Bert was a teenager he went to Australia
Grem Devlin on the ‘assisted emigrant’ scheme. He stayed
there nine years during which time he enjoyed
A.L.LLOYD
listening to the songs of fellow station hands,
noting them down wherever he could, claiming
Ten Thousand Miles Away
this is where his interest in folksong began. On
Fellside FECD219 (Double CD)
CD2 we hear his Australian repertoire, twenty
one beguiling songs of shearers, bushrangers,
Albert Lancaster Lloyd, widely and happily
and the like, featuring characters like Bold Jack
known as Bert, was a folklorist, author,
Donahue, and the ferocious drinker Bluey Brink
scriptwriter, translator, journalist, linguist, a
who polished of a bottle of sulphuric acid with
constant fount of information and inspiration
no damage but singed whiskers!
to the folk scene from its very earliest days,
and an incomparable singer. His recordings
In the English songs of CD1 Bert sings
and live performances either solo or with Ewan
unaccompanied or backed by the supreme
MacColl, spread a British repertoire of song
concertina man Alf Edwards, and his style is
around the folk scene at a time when many
measured, almost formal at times. On CD2 he
fledgling singers were avid for such material.
is backed by Edwards again and also Peggy
Likewise his books, ‘The Singing Englishman’,
Seeger, guitar and banjo, Ralph Rinzler on
‘Folk Song in England’, and his ‘Penguin
mandolin, Al Jeffrey, banjo, E.L Seward on
Book of English Folksongs’, in collaboration
guitar, and the excellent John Cole on mouth
with Ralph Vaughan Williams, were hugely
organ. This band fits the more rhythmic swing
influential.
of the Oz songs perfectly with a spontaneous
rough and ready sound that is much to my
His singing style was influential too. Many
taste. Bert’s singing is here much looser, more
singers found his way with a song most
laconic than before, just right to my ear, from
congenial and based their own style upon it. I
start to finish.
certainly did, in fact I was an out and out Bert
imitator to start with. When listening to myself
I have already described him as an
I can still hear echoes of the great man, and I
‘incomparable singer’, and I’m not alone in that
remember him with warm affection. A word of
opinion. Dave Swarbrick, for instance, wanted
praise or encouragement from Bert Lloyd was
him to be the lead singer of Fairport Convention
treasured by any of us singers. He gave me a
back when that band first began. His is just
copy of ‘Folk Song in England’ signed ‘to my
one of the many authoritative voices raised in
friend Roy Harris, with very deep respect’, an
Lloyd’s praise. Given all these good words the
inscription that brought me to tears when read
newcomer to him might be expecting to hear
again after his death in 1982.
a voice full of majesty, range and resonance.
Not so. Bert’s voice is a light baritone, nothing
When I think of Bert I recall a man of engaging
exceptional tonally, and prone to squeak and
manner and personality, and an appearance
fall off pitch occasionally. But he is still a great
often described as ‘Pickwickian’, holding
singer. His commitment to the story makes
audiences spellbound with his introductions to
him so. The pacing and diction are part of it,
songs, often with personal anecdotes from his
and so is his identification with the words he is
time on Australian sheep stations, or on board
singing. I’ve mentioned his dramatic quality,
a whale factory ship. Bert’s introductions
but when a song is humorous he shows it. It
were never dry, for all his knowledge and
has often been said of him that he sings ‘with a
erudition. He had a terrific sense of humour
smile in his voice’ and it’s a good description.
and when he sang anything the song stood up
These are two CDs of treasure for which we
all the more clearly because of his entertaining
owe a great debt to Fellside for bringing them
preamble. His name is still quoted in print and
out at a bargain price and helping to ensure
conversation around the folk world, but as time
that the legacy of Bert Lloyd continues to be
passes memories fade, and a generation grows
available to us all. I spent much time in the
who never actually heard him. Now, thankfully,
company of this wise and witty man, and I
we have these two CDs, most generously
would like more people to know him. Reader,
marketed by Fellside at the price of one, to
if you haven’t yet heard him I urge you to drink
bring back Bert’s voice to those of my vintage
at this well.
and, I hope, introduce it to those to whom his is
merely a name from the past.
Roy Harris
The first CD deals entirely with English song
HAREM ScAREM
and contains some absolute classics, first
introduced by him to eager ears. Titles like
Storm In A Teacup
Lord Franklin, The Coast of Peru, Bitter Withy, Vertical Records VERTCD086
Down in Yon Forest, well known nowadays
but they hit us like hammers back when first Now a four-piece since the departure of flautist
recorded between 1953 and ‘57. Every song Nuala Kennedy, this new album shows the
The Living Tradition - Page 38 Sponsored by BIrnam CD
Issue82.indd 38 24/2/09 14:01:02
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