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Writing folk music reviews

Stringsinger 28 Aug 11 - 06:25 PM
The Sandman 28 Aug 11 - 12:53 PM
GUEST 28 Aug 11 - 12:42 PM
The Sandman 28 Aug 11 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,Colin Randall 28 Aug 11 - 10:28 AM
GUEST 28 Aug 11 - 10:27 AM
Vic Smith 28 Aug 11 - 10:09 AM
GUEST,C. Ham 22 Jul 11 - 09:56 AM
Continuity Jones 22 Jul 11 - 08:58 AM
johncharles 22 Jul 11 - 08:57 AM
johncharles 22 Jul 11 - 08:37 AM
Dave Sutherland 22 Jul 11 - 08:34 AM
The Sandman 22 Jul 11 - 08:08 AM
Rain Dog 22 Jul 11 - 07:20 AM
Colin Randall 22 Jul 11 - 07:10 AM
theleveller 22 Jul 11 - 06:31 AM
The Sandman 22 Jul 11 - 06:22 AM
GUEST,FloraG 22 Jul 11 - 05:50 AM
Colin Randall 21 Jul 11 - 06:12 PM
glueman 21 Jul 11 - 04:26 AM
Big Al Whittle 21 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM
theleveller 21 Jul 11 - 03:46 AM
GUEST,FloraG 21 Jul 11 - 03:38 AM
Big Al Whittle 21 Jul 11 - 03:22 AM
Continuity Jones 21 Jul 11 - 03:12 AM
Big Al Whittle 21 Jul 11 - 03:06 AM
GUEST,Mr Punch 20 Jul 11 - 08:37 PM
Banjiman 20 Jul 11 - 04:38 PM
glueman 20 Jul 11 - 04:06 PM
MGMLion 20 Jul 11 - 03:51 PM
johncharles 20 Jul 11 - 03:21 PM
Vic Smith 20 Jul 11 - 03:13 PM
johncharles 20 Jul 11 - 01:51 PM
glueman 20 Jul 11 - 01:32 PM
The Sandman 20 Jul 11 - 01:27 PM
The Sandman 20 Jul 11 - 01:14 PM
Shantyfreak 20 Jul 11 - 01:03 PM
dick greenhaus 20 Jul 11 - 01:00 PM
Banjiman 20 Jul 11 - 12:59 PM
Vic Smith 20 Jul 11 - 12:58 PM
Banjiman 20 Jul 11 - 12:47 PM
Vic Smith 20 Jul 11 - 12:33 PM
GUEST,FloraG 20 Jul 11 - 12:28 PM
johncharles 20 Jul 11 - 12:22 PM
The Sandman 20 Jul 11 - 11:54 AM
MGMLion 20 Jul 11 - 11:52 AM
The Sandman 20 Jul 11 - 11:48 AM
MGMLion 20 Jul 11 - 11:40 AM
The Sandman 20 Jul 11 - 11:21 AM
johncharles 20 Jul 11 - 11:20 AM
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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Stringsinger
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 06:25 PM

A good folk music review should contain:
1. Knowledge about the style or genre of the performer
2. An informative historical background of the performer and the music
including musical influences.
3. An evaluation of the music and lyrics that comes from a learned position
of the craft of songwriting, composition, folklore and a little ethnomusicology.
4. I don't think you even have to like the music to be fair.
5. A critique might be different from just a review but 1-5 is necessary to make it valid.
6. It should be well-written, intelligent use of words, and not just a personal opinion such as I like it or don't without qualifying what that means to you.
7. It might contain definitions about "folk" or "style" or "genre" to aid in communication.
8. It should err on the side of brevity and not be a term paper or thesis. If you're going to do that, write a book.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 12:53 PM

but there are so many people watching what the media are up to that I suspect it would be exposed.
You suspect, not good enough,I as a member of the the public want an independent unbiased review.I wish to know the merits of a book before I buy it


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 12:42 PM

But that's an entirely different argument, Good Soldier, introducing malice into the commissioning or writing of a review. Having said that, an editor has to apply his or her criteria to commissioning and might well, in the case of, say, a book making a highly controversial point give it to a reviewer who is known or likely to take the opposite view. But that makes for healthy debate - the author already has a platform - and I see nothing wrong in principle, again provided there is absence of malice. An editor who did apply malice would be a poor one in my view, but there are so many people watching what the media are up to that I suspect it would be exposed.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 11:59 AM

"The role of the editor, as I interpret it, with regard to reviews (particularly academic books) is to look for reviewers who have a knowledge of the subject matter, or who will bring their own experiences or expertise to bear on the subject of the book. Once commissioned, it is not the role of the editor to reject reviews on the basis that they are uncomplimentary to the item in question."
That might seem reasonable at first glance, BUT supposing[ A hypothetical example] the editor has given the job of reviewing to someone who is biased against the AUTHOR on personal grounds or because they are a potential rival in the same field of work.
I am not saying this is the case on this occasion, I am talking about a hypothetical example, is it not the Editors duty to ensure that the reviewer is truly independent and is judging the book purely on its merits.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: GUEST,Colin Randall
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 10:28 AM

... hat comment was mine. Didn't realise I was logged off.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 10:27 AM

Vic: many thanks for finding and posting that. Without any knowledge of the dispute beyond what appears in Derek Schofield's note, I'd say he has given a masterly reply to those who approve of freedom of expression only when the the sentiments expressed praise their work or match their own views.

I do not accept that deep specialist knowledge is always required to make someone a readable, even compelling reviewer but there are circumstances, such as those implied, where it helps a great deal.

This may also have been covered - it is a while since I read this thread - but I would admit to being less than keen on anonymous reviews. I understand the journalistic reasons that probably prompt Ian Anderson to run them in the fRoots section of brief reviews, but feel it offers too much ammunition to those ready to pounce on any excuse to put down the reviewer. Oh, and reviewers should by definition be thick-skinned


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Vic Smith
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 10:09 AM

Perhaps this matter has already been talked out here on this thread, but the thread came to mind when I read this.....

I received the autumn 2011 edition of English Dance & Song in the post yesterday. Reading the Letters page, here is the response of the editor, Derek Schofield to the opening letter. If you read beyond what he says about this particular case, then I think what is says is admirable and germane to this discussion:-

Editor's note: this was one of several letters received about Chris Metherell's review of Ellis Rogers' book, The Quadrille, In some of the letters, the credentials of the reviewer, and my judgement as editor were called into question. The role of the editor, as I interpret it, with regard to reviews (particularly academic books) is to look for reviewers who have a knowledge of the subject matter, or who will bring their own experiences or expertise to bear on the subject of the book. Once commissioned, it is not the role of the editor to reject reviews on the basis that they are uncomplimentary to the item in question. Such an approach would smack of censorship. I always endeavour to find a reviewer who is likely to be sympathetic to the item to be reviewed. Chris Metherell has spent forty years researching, publishing and performing traditional dance. His specialism is step and clog dance, the divisor (with the Instep Research Team) of the Newcastle notation system for clog and step dances (which is now being used at post-graduate level for dance notation) and a visiting lecturer at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick. His research interests inevitably overlap with the subject of the book he reviewed. In publishing a book or CD, and submitting it for review, the author/performer has to accept that reviews might range from the complimentary to the critical.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: GUEST,C. Ham
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 09:56 AM

"4.Give people information in an objective way as you possibly can."

A review is subjective by nature. The key as a reader is to develop an understanding of particular reviewers and find those whose opinions you trust. There are some great reviewers working in the folk field (I've already mentioned my 3 favorites) and some bad ones.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Continuity Jones
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 08:58 AM

I like my music to have a bit of life in it and similarly my reviews. music is not for the museum and shouldn't be catalogued as such.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: johncharles
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 08:57 AM

"The toilet test" may be a good proxy measure of the merits of performers at a gig. A fertile area for further research perhaps.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: johncharles
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 08:37 AM

critic [ˈkrɪtɪk]
n
1. a person who judges something
2. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) a professional judge of art, music, literature, etc.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/critic
Music critics like performers are subject to criticism from their readers and employers. If they get it wrong I have no doubt that will be made clear to them.
To reduce the commentary upon music to mechanistic objective guidelines seems to miss the very essence of music which is it's necessarily subjective power to move people emotionally.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 08:34 AM

Flora, although I am repeating myself as we had this topic a couple of years ago the artists and (smaller) record labels certainly feel that reviewers are still necessary judging by the quantity of CDs that I receive year on year for inclusion in the Nottingham Evening Post.
Meanwhile since we are offering our reviews (or releated reviews)for scrutiny I submit one of my more recent efforts; Lucy Ward's debut album "Adelphi Has to Fly" which has appeared in Folk Monthly, Tatters and,in more truncated form, in the aforementioned NEP.
I stress that while I have seen Lucy perform on a few occasions I have only really met her once; you can't escape her on Facebook and her father and I indulge in a little on line football banter; so there is no conflice of interest.

Lucy Ward:       Adelphi Has To Fly

Navigator 047


Since there has hardly been a folk festival line up in the last eighteen months that hasn't included the name of Derby's Lucy Ward, her debut album "Adelphi Has To Fly" on the prestigious Navigator label comes as a natural progression to her rise on the U.K. folk and acoustic scene.
As her club and festival appearances have proved she is equally at home with both traditional and contemporary material and her C.D. reflects this with five of the former (or in the tradition) songs, one Mike Waterson composition and five of her self written pieces. Right from the opening track, "The Fairy Boy", a song so beloved of the Irish source singers, it is encouragingly obvious that she has been listening to the right people; however it is with the ballad "The Two Sisters" that she really scores. Exemplifying Ewan MacColl's affirmation that the traditional ballad employs "the economy of verse" she turns in the most compact version of this noble song that I have heard which still encapsulates all the ingredients of this widespread tale; her use of the concertina is a perfect foil for the ballad too.
It is testimony to her songwriting that her own compositions stand up alongside such traditional classics as "Maids When You're Young" and "The Unfortunate Lass" and I find myself being very much drawn to "Alice In The Bacon Box" which is not only a heartrending tale but must be the first song to name check such Derbyshire locations as Shardlow and Little Eaton. Where more accompaniment than her guitar is required, as on "Julia", Belinda O'Hooley's piano ranges from the plaintively unobtrusive to the powerfully dramatic as the song reaches its climax.
The pre-release reviews of this album have been united in their enthusiasm and it is easy to see why as Lucy Ward is the latest of the bright young talents to emerge on the folk circuit and such an album serves her well.
Only one item leaves me uncomfortable and that is in the final track "Bricks and Love" where the story opens with a couple who sing in a folk club but whose confidence outweighs their talent and the audience use this opportunity to nip to the bar or toilet. We don't do that, do we?


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 08:08 AM

LEVELLER. I am prepared to take constructive criticism, that is criticism that is qualified, such and such has vocal mannerisms or is a mediocre blues singer because he sings in an understated way.
Mance Lipscomb and Missippi john hurt were understated, but no one criticised them for this style, so in the end style is a question of personal taste, I have no problem with that or with JimCarroll saying, he prefers more passion. they have qualified their comments.
what is not good I reviewing is to say,I couldnt stand this recording its only use is for a flower pot.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Rain Dog
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 07:20 AM

I think that the main reason most people read book/film/theatre/cd reviews, is to let them know what is out there. That is why I read them and why I will continue to read them.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Colin Randall
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 07:10 AM

The Leveller and Good Soldier both have points: performers should take rough with smooth, and reviewers should have and observe guiding principles. i have mine I cannot pretend to speak for others and nor would I wish to.

FloraG; the response to the original question suggests reviewers do have a place. No one needs to be unduly influenced by what they have to say. They may do no more than produce a good or not so good piece of writing. They may alert you to something you find interesting. But anyone who takes their conclusions too seriously, without testing the water for themselves (unless the reviewer is someone they have come to trust), is somewhat gullible.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: theleveller
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 06:31 AM

Maybe there should be a guideline to people who submit CDs for review (as opposed to unsolicited reviews):

Learn to take the rough with the smooth.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 06:22 AM

I would be interested in other peoples opinions as to guidelines.
Here is my opinion.
1.Explain what category of Folk music, e.g, Traditional American, Contemporary English Self composed in a traditional style, or whatever.
2. Mention instrumentation.

4.Give people information in an objective way as you possibly can .
5. Do not agree to do a review, if you have a personal dislike of the artist.

7. When you have written the review, put yourself in the position of the person who you are reviewing,and imagine how it must feel, to have your music rubbished.
Colin Randall agrees on these points, ok
so we have some guidelines from a professional reviewer.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 05:50 AM

I am still not convinced of their purpose today. It is just so easy to go on the net and decide for yourself. Not so 20 years ago.
What can you not find on the net?
- new small young bands
- how well a band handles an audience
- how they adapt the material if it is not working
- how well do they audience the floor singers
- how much do they expect the audience to join in
- what variety of material is in their programme

I think the purpose of the written review could perhaps be to cover these areas in more depth rather than to state obvious facts which are better got elswhere.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Colin Randall
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 06:12 PM

I was the previewer, reviewer and feature writer on folk music for The Daily Telegraph for 20 years and, as I have explained here and at http://salutlive.com on several occasions, I always regarded the role I had as that of a fan with a platform.

There was, potentially, a dilemma in that I was writing for a paper of the right on a form of music that generally attracts people who are, at the very least, left of centre. Yet I can say no attempt was ever made to censor or massage anything I wrote on political grounds. I may have offended a few of the performers about whom I wrote, but can recall none protesting that I had applied right-wing bias to a review (I am, in any case, to the left of centre in my own politics.

But Good Soldier Schweik's thread starter was unconnected with those issues. He offered his own seven preferences. Girl Friday, in the first reply, improved immeasurably on the list with her own plea for reviews to be "brief but interesting". But I would accept some of GSS's points (Nos 1,2 4, 5) and even agree, on No 7, that a reviewer should give plenty of thought to any hostile references before submitting the article. Fairness matters, as in an ideal world it would in all areas of journalism.

I think he is quite wrong to require the reviewer to "Remember that your love of music, and that promotion of folk roots music,is more important than anything else, including writing purple prose,OR personality clashes"

Leaving aside the last three words, I would say there is actually no obligation on the critic to love or wish to promote folk/roots music. Yes, as I said in opening this message, I am a fan. But as a reader of arts criticism of any kind, I am interested mostly in the quality of writing.

If the critic happens to have great knowledge of, and even passion for, the subject mater, as well as being an entertaining writer, so much the better.

But you have to accept that people working in a media arts dept, which is likely these days days to be understaffed and stingily resourced, may have to write about all sorts of things of little or no interest to him or her.

I have told the story before, but it bears repeating.

On my first local paper, the common complaint of amateur dramatic and operatic societies was that reviews would be entrusted to young reporters who had no knowledge or interest in the productions, resented the intrusion into their social lives and took revenge by rattling off waspish little pieces.

I tried to address this, when chief reporter in a district office, by sending along a reporter who sang, acted and very much knew what she was talking about. When she turned in a negative first-night review, which I accepted was her sincere appraisal of what she had seen, the complaint changed to: "How unfair to give the job to someone from a rival society."


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: glueman
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 04:26 AM

"For my money, the professional critic has a different or additional function that of entertainer."

Indeed. Music is not consumed objectively, there's no yardstick that makes genre A better than genre B, or performance X inspiring and performance Y schmaltzy. If there were The Birdy Song wouldn't be close to achieving folk status. What a print review normally consists of is the critic showing his background knowledge and indulging in a humorous (or not so humorous) polemic based whether he liked the thing. If you don't like shanties (I do) there's nothing I can say to make you believe they're more than 'Captain Birdseye impersonators' having a good, well lubricated shout. The moral problem would arise if I wrote a review for publication that claimed shanties were the only valuable form of artistic enterprise and inferred those who didn't appreciate 'Now That's What I Call Shanties, Volume 7' were fools.

In the end reviews are pure entertainment for people who are most unlikely to buy the product, let alone research the merits or otherwise of the competition. So far as the influence of critics and reviewers goes I can offer one anecdote. A friend of mine had a novel reviewed in The Sunday Times (IIRC) in which the reviewer heaped praise upon it (it was book of the week) favourably comparing it to masters of the genre and encouraging everyone to go out and buy it. When my friend checked the figures some time later he reckoned the review may have contributed seven copies to the sales figures. When a different novel was reviewed less favourably by another critic he was forced to look for a different publisher. If there's any conclusion to be drawn it's that published critics have a negative net effect on artistic enterprise as a whole and word of mouth is a more reliable index of worth, if only to its intended market.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM

'It was good except for the singing.
FloraG '

folkmusic is very like that. sometimes its great just to chat with your old mates and not bother with all this music stuff.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: theleveller
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 03:46 AM

MtheGM wrote: "I didn't say it should be paid to have professional validity, leveller; I said it should be commissioned, by an editor who has been appointed because he has the experience and qualifications to know how to edit, as from one he regards as a worthwhile commentator"

The point I was making is that critiques or reviews by non-professional reviewers (i.e. ordinary consumers) are as valid as those written by professionals, paid or not. For my money, the professional critic has a different or additional function that of entertainer. When I used to buy a Sunday paper I thoroughly enjoyed A A Gill's restaurant reviews even though I never visited the restaurants, and Clive James' television reviews were a real joy. I liked them because I like good writing, not necessarily because I particularly respected their opinions.

Indulge me in my deliberate fatuousness if I return to my toaster analogy. An engineer may tell me what a wonderful piece of technology it is; a designer may say that it is the latest must-have piece of kitchen equipment that will grace my worktops; an electrician may eulogise about the triple insulation; but if a punter who has bought and used the toaster says, "don't buy this, it makes crap toast and it burnt my house down', then which am I going to take notice of?


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 03:38 AM

I always remember this review by my then 9 year old daughter who went to see madame Butterfly as part of a friends birthday treat.

How was it?

It was good except for the singing.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 03:22 AM

Come now CJ, I'm sure you didn't get where you are today without recognising an attempt at levity, humour and that sort of thing.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Continuity Jones
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 03:12 AM

Colin.Irwin is pretty good though. there are far less capable reviewers.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 03:06 AM

dunno.

English Literature is doing great. Eng Lit had Leavis, Wilson Knight and tilyard. We had Karl Dallas and Colin Irwin and that bloke Simon something who writes for the Sundays and wrote The electric Muse.

No wonder we're up shit creek. i think its their fault.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: GUEST,Mr Punch
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 08:37 PM

Good Soldier, here is a salutary lesson. Some years ago I had a wonderful review of my album in a Scottish folk magazine. It was written by a well respected performer known for his quiet style and integrity. (Sadly he is no longer with us). It followed your guidelines and was informative even about things that were not in the sleeve notes. It made him look learned and the album sound well worth anybody's money. So it should as I was sitting next to him while he wrote it. "That's the way to do it".


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Banjiman
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 04:38 PM

"Now as people are giving themselves the right to a bit of indulgence on this thread, Mr. Miles of himself and Mr. Arrowsmith of his dearly beloved, perhaps I might join in for a while"

Mr Smith, I'm truly shocked I tell you!


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: glueman
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 04:06 PM

Not skewed, evasive or misleading. Flora G asked, "Does anybody actually read reviews?"
I said, "No, but then I don't watch TV or take a newspaper and my radio listening is limited to a few choice items each month. It's an informational Galapagos but it suits me."

Anyone with a modicum of sense would understand it was a personal response to an open question. In the time I took to reply it was likely another two or three posters might have answered yes, no and maybe. Your gripe is derived from the fact I believe most reviews are so much hot air and you apparently, write them. You can challenge me on my belief but you chose to launch into an ad hominem instead. Poor show, plus you used the word 'valedictions' in an informal discussion which suggests our dialogue is indeed a complete waste of my time.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: MGMLion
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 03:51 PM

Glueman ~~ Your account of the dialogue is skewed, evasive & deliberately misleading. Flora asked if anybody read reviews. You replied, positively, that, no, they didn't, & then went on to relate that you yourself didn't, in a manner to indicate that you regarded yourself as the personification of Everyman and so entitled to answer her question on behalf of All Mankind. When I pointed out that this was perhaps a bit egocentric, your reply was to repeat, that, no they didn't, because the Great Lord Glueman didn't so that settled the matter.

And then you were surprised at being called a conceited pillock. A most moderate response in the circumstances, it still appears to me.

Traditional valedictions. Do not trouble yourself to respond: I shall not waste any more of my valuable, even if a trifle elderly, time, reading any more of your posts.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: johncharles
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 03:21 PM

The Sussex Pistols do a fine version of midnight on the water. (In my subjective opinion).


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Vic Smith
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 03:13 PM

Dick Miles wrote:-
"Vic ,no problem.
here is a more recent review"


Ah! Good, Dick, that is much nearer the mark. Yes, it is a very fair account of Sara's performances on that recording, though I would that her best album is probably Sara on Harbourtown though in comparing her albums, we would really only talking about degrees of excellence.

Now as people are giving themselves the right to a bit of indulgence on this thread, Mr. Miles of himself and Mr. Arrowsmith of his dearly beloved, perhaps I might join in for a while..

SARA GREY
        Sara's ever first folk club booking in England was in our folk club in Lewes in 1968.
        Some 43 years after this we held Sara's 70th birthday party at our folk club last year.
        The title of her 1981 album A Breath Of Fresh Air was provided by me, taken from a comment I made about one of her performances.
BEN PALEY (The fiddle player on this one of Sara's album)
        Ben and I have played and continue to play literally hundreds of gigs together over the years as members of The Sussex Pistols.
        Ben's newest combination a very exciting quartet called The Long Hill Ramblers played their first gig at our folk club in Lewes and will be headlining an appearance at Lewes Folk Festival 6-9 October Tickets for their performance now available from that website.
        There is an article on Ben and the Long Hill Ramblers by me in the current issue of.. Wait a minute this is Mudcat, so I'd better whisper this and run for cover. in the current issue of fRoots



Actually M'lud, I also need to ask to be taken into consideration that I have written three articles on Sara in Folk Roots/fRoots as well as a number of album reviews though in mitigation, I would like to point out that I have also written articles and reviews on her in The Living Tradition and other magazines.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: johncharles
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 01:51 PM

The reviewers amongst you might help me here. I imagine writing reviews about outstanding CDs is probably somewhat easier than writing about CDs from the other end of the spectrum, where the possibility of upsetting the performer is a possibility.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: glueman
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 01:32 PM

"Just the sort of thing I mean, glueman. Mere abuse & assertiveness; no sort of intellectual support & backing. Thoroughly amateurish."

MGM, without wishing to add to mutual insults by elderly men with nothing better to do with their time that constitutes the business of Mudcart, I offered a personal response to another poster that was in no way contentious to which you replied: "Flora didn't ask about you, Glueman: she asked about "anybody". Bit egocentric response of yours?"

When I followed this up with an explanation you replied: "Glueman ~~ Your second answer is even stupider than your first; in your pertincious insistence on equating yourself with "anybody", and hence, by implication, with "everybody". Who the hell do you think cares what Glueman's egotistical take on the question is? Conceited pillock!"

You then gave some cock and bull opinion about "a proper review is written by a specialist critic, commissioned by a professional editor of a media outlet, print, visual, online, but properly established, who knows he can rely on the critic's knowledge of the field under consideration and ability to communicate his therefore valid opinions" which presumably is meant to underline your own valuation of your worth to the task rather than make you look ridiculously pompous.

You're not the only person who could start an argument in an empty room that inhabits Mudcart, nor the only one to offer meaningless credentials to do so, just the one who takes the shortest route to calling someone you've never met a conceited pillock for offering a reply to another poster that was sweet FA to do with you in the first place.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 01:27 PM

Why is the Sara Grey review a good review? because it gives detailed info about the recording, it does not digress and talk about other recordings, it informs us as to who the other musicians are and what they play.
It gives the reader details about sleeve notes, It mentions sources of songs.
It also informs us about the choice of material.
Mary,clearly like Sara as a performer, and this comes across in the review.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 01:14 PM

Vic ,no problem.
here is a more recent review.
which is an example of good reviewing
SARA GREY Sandy Boys.fellside fecd225.
This is her best cd yet. Here we have 15 tracks of songs and tunes from the USA sung and played by Sara joined by her son Kieron Means on guitar and Ben Paley on fiddle and the mouth harp of Mike Whellans.The CD starts with an up beat song Sandy Boys which uses a traditional fiddle tune from Virginia and has a set of words put to it by Sara.
The Goodnight loving trail written by Utah Philips is a gentle and poignant song about growing old.I have always thought that family members' voices blend in a particularly harmonious way and this certainly applies to Sara and Kieron.
Just listen to the unaccompanied East Virginia Blues from Cas Wallins or Resurrection Day where two voices are joined by a lone fiddle accompaniment.My favourite song is Old Paint, a song collected by AlanLomax, Sara sings it solo accompanied only by banjo, it has a complex rhythm that seems to vary with each verse.I could listen to it all day it is mesmerising.
I could end up listing every song on the cd each has something wonderful to offer,but why not go out and buy the CD , There are Child ballads, broadsides fiddle and banjo tunes and songs written by SiKahn.There is something for all here.
This cd comes with Saras wonderfully erudite and informative sleeve notes which give many an anecdote about the sources and collectors of the songs .Highly recommended.Mary Humphreys FEB 2010 Mardles


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Shantyfreak
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 01:03 PM

The only reason I read reviews from strangers is for the facts they contain and not the opinions they offer. I expect a review to praise the subject - that's almost universal - but unless I know the person writing the review I have no knowledge of their truthfulness, taste or tolerance and so their opinions alone rarely move me.
What one person may regard as the best thing since sliced bread may be pure poison to another anyway.
Perhaps the main purpose of reviews is to fill space in various periodicals. If that is so then readability is the key consideration and a reasonable style of writing is better than flowery phrased praises.
Having submitted my first ever CD review today I do hope readers of the periodical concerned will enjoy it and find it useful. Just as I hope you, kind reader, have enjoyed and found this useful.
Jim


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 01:00 PM

I read reviews. And I judge their worth largely by what I think of the reviewer.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Banjiman
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 12:59 PM

Whistles and looks the other way innocently..........


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Vic Smith
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 12:58 PM

Thanks for that Banjiman.... thinking about it, though, I really don't know the actual identity of Banjiman. I just hope that it is not Paul Arrowsmith, otherwise I might have to add "uxorious nepotism" to "self-promotion"!


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Banjiman
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 12:47 PM

I'll help with that Vic! Recent and I'd say accurate! LoL

“Review of Life, Love & Chocolate (Wendy Arrowsmith) Impressive 3rd CD from North Yorks based Scot brings a new luxuriousness in texture, though it's intelligently considered backdrop is never allowed to obscure Wendy's own commanding singing voice and her consistently strong writing. ”
- Thumbs Up. fRoots

"Life Love & Chocolate Wendy Arrowsmith) is a superbly produced, exquisitely sung album, without doubt one of the most listenable albums I have heard for many a long month. Wendy has excelled herself with this fine collection of songs which not only shows off of her considerable vocal talents and natural musicality, but places her right at the top where she belongs."
" Stan Graham , BBC Radio York.

“There’s a quintessential beauty about ‘Life, Love & Chocolate’, the latest album from Wendy Arrowsmith with its mix of traditional and self-penned songs. And should an album touch your soul this year then this is the one. The package combines piercingly pertinent lyrics, beautiful melodies and Wendy’s outstanding voice to produce an album of folk brilliance.”
" Tim Carroll, Folkwords


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: Vic Smith
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 12:33 PM

Could all those who have contributed to this thread thank Dick Miles for the two examples that he has provided of reviews of folk albums in this thread? I'm sure that we are all glad that we know what we are talking about now having seen these.

However, could we make two requests of him?

The first would be to provide something that is a little more recent than the two that he has provided. The two that were provided were both over 20 years old. It would be good to have something a bit more up-to-date so that we could be given an idea of the current state of the art of reviewing folk albums.

The second would be to provide something that does not smack quite so strongly of self-promotion.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 12:28 PM

I think reviews might help on a technical level. I find it annoying when the volume changes a lot between tracks as it does on some Cds. ( not just the dynamics). I think commenting on this might encourage the sound engineers to take a bit more care with a fairly basic thing. Do sound engineers read reviews? I doubt it.

As for the rest, its mostly taste, and I think the web is taking over the knowledge thing and doing it more effectively. I am thinking that if you have a web site its important that the whole style range of what you play is demonstrated, so people like me can't say - it all sounds a bit the same.

Question. Whose opinion do you valuue enough to spend time reading the reviews and then spending 20 on a concert without hearing the artist first? I'm not sure I can think of anyone.

FloraG


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: johncharles
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 12:22 PM

It will be a sad day when reviewers are told how and what to write about performers.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 11:54 AM

Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: GUEST,FloraG - PM
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 09:40 AM

I'm not sure I know of anyone whose opinion I would value more than my own in folk music. Faversham folk club has a guest tonight so despite the review on the folk club site I went on his web and listened to the samples. He sounded very nice but he did not lift his fingers while playing the guitar enough so lots of squidgy bits and the songs all sounded the same. I dont think I would enjoy it that much, but he might be much better live.
I'm not sure how a review by someone else could add much, unless someone has seen him live.
Spot on Flora , Your own judgement is best for you, if someone has seen him live, that could be useful if they described what happened at the gig, it is of no use if they waffle on about poetry downstairs, as in the Readifolk review, what is really striking is that all the other artists [kieran halpin bram taylor etc] were all reviewed properly, GIVING DETAILS OF SONGS ETC


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: MGMLion
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 11:52 AM

I didn't say it should be paid to have professional validity, leveller; I said it should be commissioned, by an editor who has been appointed because he has the experience and qualifications to know how to edit, as from one he regards as a worthwhile commentator. Anyone can blog or post on a forum ~~ some well, others less well. But to make any sort of career of such activity, one requires to be regularly invited/commissioned to contribute properly considered reviews to a properly authenticated and respected outlet; which The Times, The Guardian, Plays & Players, Folk Review, Early Modern Literary Studies*, Radio 4 - all regularly within my CV - are/were; but Facebook or [with all due respect] Mudcat just are not.

~M~

*I am not paid by that one, for example; but it is a highly prestigious worldwide academic journal of Shakespeare studies, respected thruout the academic community - google

http://extra.shu.ac.uk/emls/15-3/myerrev.htm


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 11:48 AM

Here is a well written review from folk roots .Home Routes Brewhouse BHL9008.Richard Grainger and Dick Miles.
The sleevenotes "strong earthy and vigorous" might be overstating the case just abit but this is none the less quite a decent set with a bit of energy and conviction in there somewhere.The guitar and concertina are used to good complimentary effect on a variety of songs and tunes imparting a tense undertow to Pete Coe's Alimony run and giving their own slant to the rhythm.Whaling and mining still retain their grip on theEnglish folksingers psyche [the latter accorded a three song medley] but Celebrated working man is perhaps unusual in its gentle mockery of a superminer[on the same lines as Martyn Wyndham Read's Shearing in a Bar but more coal fewer sheep.Graingers own composition Farewell to Angus is also noteworthy as a well written and nicely sung lament for a friend over sympathetic concertina backing.Ive not been that enamoured of some previous review material involving these musicians or indeed this label: in the former case a bad dose of folkie mannerisms in the latter a tendency towards the twee.here they give a capable , unpretentious and relatively unmannered performance.My trepidations/pre-judgements were largely unfounded and I enjoyed the record more than I expected to.Nick Beale
However there is one obvious fault with the review, the reviewer digresses to other matters apart from the recording.,previous recordings from these musicians and this label[NOT RELEVANT], rule number one should be stick to what you are reviewing, WHICH IS the recording.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: MGMLion
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 11:40 AM

==="The person who does that no more becomes a 'critic', in any meaningful sense, than ordering a scalpel online from Swann Morton would make him a surgeon".

Let's hope your professional reviews contain more meaningful analogies and less self importance.===

Just the sort of thing I mean, glueman. Mere abuse & assertiveness; no sort of intellectual support & backing. Thoroughly amateurish.


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 11:21 AM

here is an example of a well written review.
On my little concertina. Brewhouse music
The songs range from traditional classics like Tam Lin to comic ditties like the title song. In addition there are a number of tunes,predominantly from the standard Irish and Northumbrian repertoire:tunes played for listening rather than for dancing toand good examples of Dicks' fluency and phrasing.
A Hayden duet was used to accompany the song Sitting on Top of The World,the first time the system has been used on a commercial recording.
Probably of most interest from a purely concertina point of view are his varied song accompniments, a model for all those who ask for workshops on this subject at festivals.He supports the tune never dominates, and varies style and dynamics to suit the lyrics- it sounds obvious enough but seems to be rare in practice the timbre of concertina can swamp the voice.It doesn't here; the balance is good, the accompaniment never intrusive but contributing to the whole, not just added in to vary the sound .Anyone who wants to accompany themselves would find this record inspiring and useful as well as enjoyable.Pippa Sandford


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Subject: RE: Writing folk music reviews
From: johncharles
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 11:20 AM

http://www.petemorton.com/reviews.swarthmoor.html
Vic Smith and Dave Kidman have good things to say about Pete Morton


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