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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Jim Carroll Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain (39) RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain 28 Nov 07


I have recently been working on the Folk Songs of Britain series recently (for my personal use), so I thought I would pass on the following information:
The series was first issued by Caedmon Records (US) in 1961 and reissued in 1969 by Topic.
The editors were Peter Kennedy and Alan Lomax, and the collectors were given as; Bob Copper, L Daikens, Sean Davis, Phillip Donnellan, Seamus Ennis, Hamish Henderson, Maud Karples, Peter Kennedy, Alan Lomax, Sean O'Boyle, Patrick Shuldham-Shaw, Marie Slocum and Cyril Tawney.
All the material included on the albums were copyrighted to Lochrea Music.
When Topic issued the series they changed the title of volume 9 from 'Songs of Christmas' to 'Songs of Ceremony', and the notes were altered, is some cases radically (the 'Christmas' notes were at least twice the size of those to the 'Ceremony' album). Topic did not include the tune transcriptions that were part of the Caedmon notes, nor did they include the photographs of performers that were on the original sleeves.
Some time ago I suggested that the series should be made available to all via the internet and was told that 'it was easy to give away something that didn't belong to me'.
As far as I am concerned, the collection has always belonged to me - and to every British taxpayer and radio/television receiving license holder.
The project was instigated and financed by the British Broadcasting Corporation and the collectors were employed by them and worked on their/our behalf.
I have never seen a satisfactory explanation of how the collection ended up in private hands and why it has only been available in either the edited Caedmon/Topic version or on poorly reproduced, somewhat expensive cassettes accompanied by extremely inadequate, shoddily photocopied notes; perhaps somebody can explain. In some cases the 'owner' has chosen to dub on accompaniments and choruses; the artistic equivalent of painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa. Also, does anybody know who 'Lochrea Music' is and on whose behalf they were allowed to copyright all the traditional texts and tunes on the FSB series.
I was pleased to learn that the collection is finally to end up in The National Sound Archive and, if we make it worth their while financially, Topic may issue some of it in the future.
As far as I am concerned the 'Kennedy' collection is part of our heritage, every bit as important as the paintings of Turner or Constable, and should be recognised as such and treated accordingly.
Jim Carroll
PS: Several of the tracks, notably of Jimmy MacBeath and Jeannie Robertson, have accordion accompaniments, does anybody know who the musicians were?


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