Sunday, January 21, 2018

Long Gone Lonesome Blues

It’s another dark and gloomy day. I’m listening to an album called Long Gone Lonesome Blues, Selections from the Thomas Fraser recordings. I first heard of him when listening to the Mike Harding Folk show on the BBC. I thought I would tell you about Thomas Fraser because his story is one of the most extraordinary in the history of music. I gleaned the following information from the very informative booklet that accompanies the CD. It was his grandson Karl Simpson that provided the notes and compiled the CD
Thomas Fraser was born on the isle of Burra in the Shetland Islands in 1927. His first instrument was the fiddle. Later, he was given a guitar from which he became inseparable and would cycle all over the island with it strapped across his back. He also learned to play the banjo, mandolin & piano and taught himself to yodel which was to prove very useful. He also played records non-stop on the family gramophone. His favourite singer was Jimmie Rodgers, the Singing Brakeman. Thomas would imitate Jimmie’s style until the resemblance became uncanny. After leaving school he became a fisherman and when ashore he would play at local weddings & concerts although he was very shy about singing in public. He got married in 1955 and bought his own lobster boat The Lark. From our point of view the most exciting thing is that in 1953 he bought the first reel to reel tape recorder that the island had ever seen. Soon he was making his own recordings of music by such people as Stephane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt, Hank Williams, The Inkspots & Big Bill Broonzy. These recordings were made for his own pleasure. He had no intention that they would have a wider audience.

Fate dealt him some bad luck in the 1970’s. Firstly his uninsured boat sank after running onto rocks and Thomas was fortunate not to have drowned. Then in 1977 another accident at sea left him with serious head injuries. His recordings ceased, and he died in 1978 at the young age of 50.
Word began to spread about his home recordings and his nephew Bobby released some home-made cassettes, but this didn’t satisfy the demand. People began to realise that Thomas Fraser represented the authentic sound of country blues. The pure music that wasn’t commercialised by Nashville. Finally, his grandson compiled the CD of 25 songs from more than 500 that Thomas had recorded. I only have one Thomas Fraser CD but since it was released in 2002 I believe there has been several more. He now has fans all over the world and there is even an annual Thomas Fraser festival in the Shetland Islands. I highly recommend this album.

Thomas Fraser Stormin' on the Deep Blue Sea

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Pink Moon

It was a cold rainy Saturday morning today and I was sitting in the kitchen and staring out the window watching a robin on my bird table when there was a knock on my door. It was the postman with a package for me. It contained a book called Pink Moon, A Story About Nick Drake by Gorm Henrik Rasmussen. I was really pleased because I only ordered it yesterday. It was recommended to me by a friend after he had read my mention of another Nick Drake book in my blog on Tuesday.
After only reading fifty pages this afternoon I can see he is absolutely right. Pink Moon was the first book written about Nick Drake in 1980 although it didn’t get a publisher until 1986. That was because of the lack of interest in him in those days. The legend hadn’t begun to grow. Even then, the book was only published in Denmark. It wasn’t until 2007 that the author was approached by Bent Sorenson who offered to translate it into English because he thought it was the best book about Nick that had been written.

The author decided to rewrite the book and he revealed lots more personal material. What makes this book so interesting is that Gorm Henrik Rasmusson actually met Nick’s parents Molly & Rodney. Firstly in 1979 and kept in touch with them for eight years afterwards. Therefore, you can trust that the information in this book is real and truthful. If you are a Nick Drake fan and want to learn more, then this is the book for you.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Lesley Duncan - Love Song

Friday On My Mind

Lesley Duncan
I sold my nice copy of Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe today, so I had a nice brisk walk to the post office to send it off. Everyone should have a brisk walk every day, that’s my motto. It clears out the cob-webs. When I got home I just pottered around. I had one annoying episode though. I went to put my new ink cartridges in my printer and found that they had given me the wrong cartridges. I phoned them up and they said they will change them. I’ll do that on Monday.
I was listening to a really nice compilation CD that one of my muso friends sent me quite a while ago. He called it May Blossoms, a collection of British Folkadelia from the 60’s &70’s. I like it a lot. There are songs by Incredible String Band, Forest, Trader Horne, Sallyangie, (That was Mike Oldfield & his sister Sally), Heron, Pentangle, Shelagh Macdonald, Al Jones, Lesley Duncan, Bert Jansch, Spyrogyra, Dr Strangely Strange, Comus and a couple of other bands. My favourite track by far is Love Song by Lesley Duncan. I have put it below. You will love it.

I went to the pub at 6.00 and had a pint. I’m tired now. Watching a programme on TV about gardens with Monty Don which makes me think I’ll be glad when it’s Spring and I can venture out into the garden. Still, one has to be patient. You can’t wish your life away.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Listening To Jackie De Shannon On Thursday Night.

I haven’t got much to report today. My new bus pass came in the post today which is good. I can travel anywhere I want on the bus for free. I might make use of it next week. Apart from a brief walk to the shops I haven’t done much at all today. I nearly went to the pub earlier but in the end I couldn’t be bothered. At the moment I’m listening to an album called Jackie by Jackie De Shannon. It is a really nice album. I only bought it because of the Van Morrison connection.  I knew that Jackie had sung backing vocals on a couple of Van's albums and had co-written the song Santa Fe which appeared on Van's Wavelength album. One of my favourite Van songs is Warm Love on the album Hard Nose The Highway on which Jackie Sings backing vocals. In the song Van sings, You can bring your guitar along, we'll sing some songs and have some fun. Surely it would be Van who would bring his guitar along. Who is this guitar playing singer he is referring to? Could it be Jackie herself? This got me wondering about Jackie so I investigated further. I knew a bit about her already. She had a top ten hit with What The World Needs Now Is Love and had written hits for The Searchers and Bette Davis Eyes which Kim Carnes had a huge hit with. She had appeared with The Beatles on their first USA tour and in England she had a brief relationship with a young guitarist called Jimmy Page and wrote and recorded with Jimmy.
Jackie & Jimmy Page.

Looking through her discography I noticed that she had made an album in 1972 simply called Jackie and I was interested to see that one of the songs was I Wanna Roo You which was written by Van. What amazed me though was that this album was reissued in 2003 with twelve bonus tracks and four of them were written by Van of which I had never heard of two of them before. As well as some of Jackie's own compositions there are covers of songs by John Prine, Neil Young, Steve Goodman and Drift Away which was a big hit for Dobie Gray and five Van Morrison songs.
Jackie playing Monopoly with George Harrison.
It is the Van songs that I want to talk about. The cover of I Wanna Roo You is quite pleasant and better than the Goldie Hawn version that I have on an album. The other four Van songs were produced by Van for his Caledonia Productions and recorded in Los Angeles on April 11 and 12 1973. They are Sweet Sixteen which was actually released as a single, Flamingos Fly which Van later released himself on A Period Of Transition and The Philosophers Stone album. I think Jackie's version is really good,If you scroll down you can hear it, Santa Fe which they co-wrote and The Wonder Of You which is excellent. Listening carefully to these tracks I am quite certain that it is Van on backing vocals.

Jackie DeShannon - Flamingos Fly ( 1973 )

Long Gone Lonesome Blues

It’s another dark and gloomy day. I’m listening to an album called Long Gone Lonesome Blues, Selections from the Thomas Fraser recordings...