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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Jim Carroll 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act (715* d) RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography 13 Oct 07

Can we clear up a few things with a few facts.
My comments regarding Reg Hall:
On Folk Britannia Reg quoted from the sleeve notes of an album entitled (Irish Jigs, Reels and Hornpipes - Willie Clancy and Michael Gorman', Folkways FW 6819) as being evidence of MacColl and Lloyd's aim to form "Eastern European type folk ensembles" in the early days of the revival (both Bert and Ewan, Bert particularly, hated those ensembles as being erzatz, watered down folk music. On the programme the sleeve notes were actually shown.
I have my copy of the album in front of me at the moment and I see that the notes were written by Henry Cowell. There is no indication that either Ewan or Bert had anything to do with the making of the album.
I don't know if anybody has a copy of Folk Britannia, but it should be quite easy for anybody who has to find the reference.
I was particularly saddened because of my respect for Reg's work on Irish music.
Frankie's comment on Ewan's attitude to regional material.
You have my personal involvement with Ewan and the club; you have Peggy's letter to The Living Tradition; I haven't transcribed Ewan's interview, but it's accessible at the British Library and at the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin.
Please help me out here; if you were in my position, what version would you accept?
I have never met or even seen Shirley Collins so I can't say one way or the other whether her assessment is a fair one; all I can say is it doesn't tie up with mine.
MacColl was not popular with his fellow revivalists in the early days for a number of reasons; Shimrod touched on many of them quite adequately as far as I'm concerned.
How unpopular he was, was illustrated by an incident which took place during the making of 'The Travelling People' Radio Ballad, where one individual was prepared (and nearly did) sabotage the making of that programme.
As much as I find embarrassing pointing out things 'wot I rote' perhaps people might like to read the interview with Sheila Stewart in 'The Living Tradition' (issue 41, Jan, Feb 2001) and my response in the following issue (issue 42, letters page, March, April 2001).
There were also the series of exchanges in Musical Traditions, which I was involved in, when it was intimated that MacColl stole 'Shoals of Herring' from traditional singers. Can't give a date for this latter, but it was at the time of the re-issue of 'Now Is The Time For Fishing' on CD, for which (I think) I did the notes.
Around the same time Peggy was accused of refusing to allow additional material to be include on that album; in fact, she had never been asked.
Ewan and Peggy have been the target of a great deal of abuse down the years. Contrary to the accusation that they spent a great deal of time knocking other members of the revival, neither of them wrote very much, not of their own ideas nor of their opinions of the revival, so much information we have is based on hearsay.
It seems obligatory that before we can get down to discussing their work, it is still necessary to climb the shit mountain.
Jim Carroll

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