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England

Ewan MacColl

The Radio Ballads by Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger & Charles Parker

The Ballad of John Axon
A radio ballad about the railwaymen of England …

  • The Ballad of John Axon
    • 1965 - Argo RG 474 LP
    • 1971 - Argo DA 139 LP
    • 1999 - Topic TSCD801 CD

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  • Side One
    1. John Axon was a Railway Man
    2. It was 4 a.m. that Saturday
    3. The Iron Road is a Hard Road
    4. It doesn't matter where you come from …
    5. The rain was gently falling …
    6. Come all you British loco men
    7. The Repair Was Done
    8. I May Be A Wage Slave On Monday (part one)
  • Side Two
    1. I May Be A Wage Slave On Monday (part two)
    2. Come All You Young Maidens
    3. Steam Train, Steam Train
    4. Under The Large Injector Steam-Valve
    5. The engine had reached the distant signal
    6. On the 3rd of May 1957

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  • Singers
    • Ewan MacColl, A.L. Lloyd, Isla Cameron, Fitzroy Coleman, Stan Kelly, Dick Loveless, Charles Mayo, Colin Dunn & Dominic Behan [1]
  • Instrumentalists
    • Jim Bray: Bass
    • Terry Brown: Trumpet
    • Bob Clark: Fiddle
    • John Cole: Harmonica
    • Fitzroy Coleman: Guitar
    • Bryan Daly: Guitar
    • Alf Edwards: English Concertina [2]
    • Billy Loch: Drums
    • Bobby Mickleburgh: Trombone
    • Peggy Seeger: (5-String) Banjo
    • Bruce Turner: Clarinet
  • Named Speakers
    • Gladys Axon, Ron Scanlon, Jack Pickford, Alec Watts, Jim Howarth, Kenneth Pearson, Alfred Ball, Joseph Leckie, School Harborne & Parish Choir
  • Credits
    • First broadcast July 2, 1958, BBC Home Service
    • Repeated: August 5, 1958; May 22, 1960 & June 11, 1963
    • Note that the original broadcast was a 45-minute version. [1]
    • The Ballad of John Axon was the work (script) of Ewan MacColl and Charles Parker
    • Song Lyrics and Music: Ewan MacColl
    • Instrumental Arranging and Musical Direction: Peggy Seeger
    • Actuality Recording: Ewan MacColl and Charles Parker [3]
    • Production: Charles Parker [3]
    • Technical Direction: John Bower [3]

'Engine driving's got to be in your blood for a start. If it's not in your blood to stand the erratic hours you'll never stand the pace. The railway life, to my mind — to the proper railwayman — it always comes first, it's in his blood.'

(Alec Watts — Chargeman Cleaner)

The old railwayman, it was a tradition, it was part of your life railways went through the back of your spine like Blackpool went through rock.'

(Jim Howarth — Driver)

'What a feeling you have when you get off the shed; you've got the engine, you've got the control of it, and what a feeling — I'm cock of the bank, there's nobody can take a rise out of me now, she's mine. Come on, me old beauty, and off we go. The moon's out and the countryside — it's lovely. On we go, what a feeling — she answers to every touch. Some more rock on, lad. Yes — it's grand.'

(Jack Pickford — Driver)

Singing the Fishing
A radio ballad about Britain's herring fishing communities …

  • Singing the Fishing
    • 1966 - Argo RG 502 LP
    • 1971 - Argo DA 142 LP
    • 1999 - Topic TSCD803 CD

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  • Track List:
    1. Up jumped the herring, the king of the sea
    2. Come all you gallant fishermen
    3. It's up with the dawn
    4. Years ago, you started very young (The Shoals of Herring)
    5. I started to go to sea in 1892
    6. So it's off with a boiler full of steam
    7. When the wind is freshening
    8. What shall it profit a fisherman
    9. It's busk ye, my lads, get you up on the deck
    10. There's no feeling like coming into harbour
    11. Came a'ye fisher lassies
    12. Up jumped the herring
    13. Cwa, ye herring fishermen
    14. A' the week your man's away
    15. Wi' our nets and gear
    16. Our ships are small

  • Singers
    • Ronnie Balls, Ian Campbell, John Clarence, Sam Larner, A.L. Lloyd, Ewan MacColl, Elizabeth Stewart, Jane Stewart
  • The Clarion Singer Chorus
  • Musicians
    • Jim Bray: Double Bass
    • Fitzroy Coleman: Guitar
    • Alf Edwards: Concertina & Ocarina
    • Kay Graham: Fiddle
    • Peggy Seeger: Autoharp, Guitar, Mandolin, 5-String Banjo
    • Bruce Turner: Clarinet, Alto Saxophone
  • Named Speakers
    • Sam Larner [1], Lewis Cardno [2], Ronnie Balls, Jimmy Burnett [3], George Draper, T.R. Bowles, Frank West, Jim West, George Keeble, Mr. Johnson, Mrs. Burnett, George Stephens, Mrs. Buchan, Mr. Ritchie, Mr. Murray & Mrs. J. West
  • Credits
    • A Radio Ballad by Ewan MacColl, Charles Parker & Peggy Seeger featuring Sam Larner of Winterton and Ronnie Balls of Yarmouth
    • A tribute to the fishing communities of East Anglia and the MORAY FIRTH
    • Recorded in association with BBC Enterprises
    • First Broadcast: August 16, 1960, repeated November 6, 1960
    • Script, Song Lyrics and Music: Ewan MacColl
    • Orchestration and Music Direction: Peggy Seeger
    • Chorus Direction: Katharine Thompson
    • Production: Charles Parker
    • Actuality Recording: Ewan MacColl, Charles Parker and Peggy Seeger
    • Technical Direction: John Clarke
  • Notes
    1. Sang "Up Jumped the Herring"
    2. Sang "Sae Like the Little Faded Flower"
    3. Recited his poem "Thou Lovely Shining Silver Fish"
    4. Technical direction: John Clarke

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The Big Hewer
A radio ballad about Britain's coal miners …

  • The Big Hewer
    • 1967 - Argo RG 538 LP
    • 1971 - Argo DA 140 LP
    • 1999 - Topic TSCD804 CD

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  • Track List:
    1. When you hew a lump of coal
    2. Out of dirt and darkness I was born
    3. Schoolday's over, come on then, John
    4. Now don't be late
    5. You're at the pit bank
    6. Oh dear, the experience to go down the pit
    7. When I am down in the pit
    8. So now you know the coal how it is got
    9. Jimmy, come back, come back
    10. Yes … he was working next to me
    11. And yet it's good to come from the pit
    12. Three hundred years I hewed at the coal by hand
    13. Down in the dark
    14. In Durham and Northumberland, I'm sorry for to say
    15. A miner has to possess that sense of humour
    16. Coal is a thing that's cost life to get
    17. Today, safety is the prime factor
    18. Deep down in a man's heart

  • Instrumentalists
    • Jim Bray: Double Bass
    • Brian Daly: Guitar
    • Alf Edwards: Concertina, Ocarina & Trombone
    • Alfie Kahn: Tin Whistle, Harmonica, Clarinet
    • Peggy Seeger: Guitar & 5-string Banjo
  • Named Speakers
    • Ben Davies, Evan Williams, Dick Beamish, Ernest Black, Jack Elliott, Rees Elliott, Johnny (Handle) Pandrich, Mr. Earl, Mr. P Weekes, Mr. J Williams, Mrs. Thomas, Mrs. Crowther, Dr. D. (Doc) Thomas & Mr. Baker
  • Credits
    • A Radio Ballad by Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger & Charles Parker
    • Recorded in association with BBC Enterprises
    • First Broadcast: August 18, 1961, repeated January 24, 1962
    • Script, song lyrics and music: Ewan MacColl
    • Orchestration and music direction: Peggy Seeger
    • Production: Charles Parker
    • Actuality recording: Ewan MacColl, Charles Parker and Peggy Seeger
    • Technical direction: John Clarke

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The Fight Game
A radio ballad about boxers …

  • The Fight Game
    • 1967 - Argo RG 539 LP
    • 1971 - Argo DA 141 LP
    • 1999 - Topic TSCD807 CD

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  • Track List:
    1. 'Twas In Tierra Del Fuego In South Amerikay
    2. There's A Game Some Call The Fight Game
    3. Boxing. To Me, Is The Greatest Character-Builder In The World
    4. Come All You Gallant Fighting Men
    5. Come On Johnny, and Put 'Em Up Johnny
    6. When You're A Fighter, You're Different
    7. Then Come On, Strip Off Young Johnny Boy
    8. I Like All My Boxers To Be Perfect Skippers
    9. When You're Training
    10. There's Such A Helluva Lot Of Work To Be Done
    11. The Programme Is Set Up
    12. Who Would Have A Boxer For A Husband
    13. You Get To The Hall
    14. On My Right, The Champion, Johnny Boy
    15. What'll We Do With The Man In The Ring?
    16. Johnny, Johnny, You Failed Us
    17. I Don't Think You Can Call Boxing A Sport

  • Musicians
    • Jim Bray: Double Bass
    • Brian Daly: Acoustic and Electric Guitar
    • Alf Edwards: Concertina, Trombone
    • Ronnie Hughes: Trumpet
    • Alfie Kahn: Clarinet, Piccolo, Harmonica
    • Johnny Lambe: Trumpet
    • Peggy Seeger: Guitar, 5-String Banjo, Mandolin
    • Dave Swarbrick: Fiddle
  • Named Speakers
    • Peter Keenan, Walter McGowan, Bill Shreeve, Billy Biddles, George Biddles, Henry Cooper, Jim Cooper, Billy Davies, Thomas Duffy, Thomas Fitzpatrick, Joe Gans, Mrs Sheila Mann, Johnny Mann, Alex Griffiths, Mrs W MacGowan, Wally Swift, Arthur Musson, Maurice Walker, Jim Wicks, Billy James, Sonny Wilson, W Barrington Dalby & Johnny Prescott
  • Credits
    • A Radio Ballad by Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger & Charles Parker
    • BBC Home Service, first broadcast July 3, 1963
    • Script, Song Lyrics and Music: Ewan MacColl with Peggy Seeger
    • Orchestration and Music Direction: Peggy Seeger
    • Production: Charles Parker
    • Actuality Recording: Ewan MacColl and Charles Parker

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The Travelling People
A radio ballad about Britain's nomadic people …

  • The Travelling People
    • 1971 - Argo DA 133 LP
    • 1999 - Topic TSCD808 CD

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  • Track List:
    1. My mother said I never should
    2. I am tired of always having to shift
    3. Born in the middle of the afternoon
    4. If you took a traveller
    5. Don't I wish the old time would come back again
    6. I like to settle in the wintertime
    7. We never did travel much in the wintertime
    8. The auld ways are changing
    9. These days have gone
    10. I mean, we're fed up with gypsies living in our area
    11. People get the impression, oh these gypsies, they're rogues
    12. They can't read or write
    13. Bloody isn't it
    14. Can't see no way out

  • Singers
    • John Faulkner, Joe Heaney, Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger, Belle Stewart, Jane (Urquhart) Stewart
  • Musicians
    • Jim Bray: Double Bass
    • Brian Daly: Guitar
    • Dinah Demuth: Oboe
    • Alf Edwards: English Concertina
    • Alfie Kahn: Harmonica, Clarinet, Piccolo, Flute
    • Peggy Seeger: Guitar, 5-String Banjo
    • Dave Swarbrick: Fiddle [4]
    • Bruce Turner: Clarinet, Alto Saxophone
    • Danny Levan [3]
  • Named Speakers
    • Caroline Hughes [1], Alec McGregor ΐ], Minty Smith, Wester Boswell, Belle Stewart, Cornelius Lee, Bill Lee, Maggie Cameron, W. Cole, Sheila McGregor, Tom Jonell, Carrie Bond, Mrs. M.J. Bond, Celia Benham, K. Stanley, Alec McGregor, Celia Benham, R.T. Baker, T. Baker, Mr. Strangeward, John Hughes, Jimmy Higgins, Gypsy Williams & Alderman Harry Watton
  • Credits
    • A Radio Ballad by Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger & Charles Parker
    • BBC Home Service, First Broadcast April 17, 1964
    • Script, Song Lyrics and Music: Ewan MacColl with Peggy Seeger
    • Orchestration and Music Direction: Peggy Seeger
    • Production: Charles Parker
    • Actuality Recording: Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger
  • Notes
    1. Sang …
    2. Played spoons and mouth music
    3. Eecording only (but uncredited on record sleeve)
    4. Rehearsal only (but credited on record sleeve)

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On the Edge
A radio-ballad about teenagers in England and Scotland …

  • On the Edge
    • 1971 - Argo DA 136 LP
    • 1999 - Topic TSCD806 CD

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  • Track List:
    1. I've always kept a diary
    2. The tale of the children of a troubled world
    3. What is it like, the world outside
    4. I find it very difficult to talk to my parents
    5. Where is the child who would climb on my knee
    6. Yes sir, no sir, goodbye
    7. What have you got to worry about?
    8. I got me tight black jeans
    9. The world that I know, it has vanished and gone
    10. I've had thoughts
    11. Why should you be lonely
    12. It actually gives me a thrill
    13. Frankly, the idea of intercourse and sex revolts me
    14. I think we should be getting married
    15. In a world like this, everything changes so rapidly
    16. The tale of the children of the troubled world
    17. Life has got everything to offer

  • Musicians
    • Jim Bray: double bass
    • Brian Daly: acoustic and electric guitar
    • Alf Edwards: English concertina
    • Ronnie Hughes: trumpet
    • Alfie Kahn: harmonica, clarinet, piccolo, flute
    • Peggy Seeger: autoharp, guitar, 5-string banjo, mountain dulcimer
  • Named Speakers
    • Dot Dobbie, Constance Beaby, John Gavin, John Pardoe, Anne Nielsen, Ann Tanner & Mai Alman
  • Credits
    • A Radio Ballad by Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger & Charles Parker
    • BBC Home Service, first broadcast February 13, 1963
    • Script, song lyrics and music: Ewan MacColl with Peggy Seeger
    • Orchestration and music direction: Peggy Seeger
    • Production: Charles Parker
    • Actuality recording: Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger with Charles Parker

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Song of a Road
A radio-ballad about the building of the M1 motorway …
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  • Song of a Road
    • 1999 - Topic TSCD802 CD

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  • Track List:
    1. Introduction
    2. We usually finish the shift in the pub
    3. I think it's the soil
    4. We are the consulting engineers
    5. We were in a great rush when we did this
    6. My name is
    7. During that time, a survey has been made
    8. It would take quite a lot of men to do the job of one of those machines
    9. Come all you gallant drivers
    10. I'm a roving rambler
    11. Deep and straight and low
    12. Sixty tons of steel
    13. What made you come into this game?
    14. Just a road
    15. Oh well that's just the way it is
    16. When the muck has all been shifted
    17. Bring up your black squad
    18. Been on the road so long
    19. You can talk about your concrete
    20. The motorway is on the final lap
    21. We needed a way cut through the land

  • Musicians
    • John Armitage: Drums
    • Jim Bray: Double Bass
    • John Chilton: Trumpet
    • Fitzroy Coleman: Guitar
    • Alf Edwards: English Concertina, Ocarina
    • Jimmie Macgregor: Guitar
      Francis McPeake: Uileann Pipes
    • Bobby Mickleburgh: Trombone
    • Peggy Seeger: Autoharp, 5-string Banjo
    • Bruce Turner: Clarinet
  • Credits
    • BBC Home Service, first broadcast November 5, 1959
    • Script: Ewan MacColl and Charles Parker
    • Song lyrics and music: Ewan MacColl
    • Orchestration and music direction: Peggy Seeger
    • Actuality recording: Ewan MacColl and Charles Parker
    • Production: Charles Parker

Top Index

The Body Blow
A radio ballad about the psychology of pain
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  • The Body Blow
    • 1999 - Topic TSCD805 CD

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  • Track List:
    1. Introduction
    2. What day did the world stop moving?
    3. Did you recall how you climbed the mountains?
    4. Can't breathe
    5. I often think back
    6. The world is a bed
    7. I wasn't afraid while I was in the lung
    8. While there's life, there's hope
    9. It's goodbye now
    10. How I can do all the small things?
    11. Stronger than pain is the human will to survive
    12. Closing announcement/The hidden foe

  • Singers
    • Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger
  • Musicians
    • Brian Daly: Guitar
    • Alf Edwards: English Concertina, Ocarina
    • Alfie Kahn: Flute, Harmonica
    • Peggy Seeger: Guitar, 5-String Banjo
  • Credits
    • BBC Home Service, first broadcast March 27, 1962
    • Script, Song Lyrics and Music: Ewan MacColl
    • Orchestration and Music direction: Peggy Seeger
    • Actuality Recording: Charles Parker
    • Production: Charles Parker
    • Programme prepared with the help of The Polio Research Fund

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