Sleeve Notes (excerpts)
Not all the material we have chosen for this record is of our own times. It is a mixture, in roughly equal proportion, of contemporary songs and of songs from periods of upheaval other than our own. The thread connecting these songs, old and new, is that they are all songs of protest-political songs of one kind or another, There is a very broad sense in which all songs, and indeed all art, might be called political; man is, after all, a political animal. Basically all songs are political, but some songs are more political than others.
The scope of protest songs is not easily confined to direct polemic, the blunt statement for or against this or that cause or movement. The art of complaint in songs is not a new one and songwriters of the past have often been artfully oblique in making their point. Of the older songs we have chosen most are traditional. Its been difficult to decide which songs to omit, for we have inherited a rich legacy of song from the struggles of past generations. It is impossible, on one side of an LP disc to do more than give a sample of the wealth of this inheritance. This we have tried to do, not on bended knee, for songs are not sacred, but with respect for those who made them and for what they have to teach us.
With the contemporary songs as with the traditional songs, our problem has been similarly hard. We've tried to make a choice that's reasonably representative of the many hundreds of songs that the folk revival has produced. Perhaps the contemporary songs are not so well made as the best of our traditional songs-although we think Hamish Henderson's Freedom Come All Ye is an outstanding exception. But the new songs are in their infancy and haven't been circulating long enough to acquire the polish of the best old ones.
It is no accident that on this record and in folk song clubs up and down the country, Van Diemen's Land can rub shoulders with an anti-bomb song- they are not after all, such strange bedfellows. Tradition for us is not merely a priceless antique to be preserved and admired for its own sake, it is one of the tools with which we can hope to hammer out the shape of our future.
Sleeve Notes (excerpts)
This is the second LP devoted entirely to The Exiles. Their first was a record of protest songs old and new, Freedom Come All Ye (Topic 12T143). The group comprises three outstanding singers and instrumentalists from Glasgow, Enoch Kent Gordon McCulloch and Bobby Campbell, who left their native land to find work in the South (Enoch Kent has since accepted exile in ever remoter regions, moving on to Canada). On this record, they are joined by another exile, from Ireland this time, in Tim Lyons, an excellent button-accordion player whom the English must count as,yet another of the treasures we have plundered from the land of Granuaile.
This present record provides a swiftly-viewed panorama of The Scots tradition, with centuries-old ballads such as The Fair Flower of Northumberland and Queen Eleanor's Confession (the latter in a becoming new dress), lyrical rustic love songs The Laird o' the windy Wa', Dainty Davie of the sort that inspired — and sometimes were inspired by — Burns, songs of the north-eastern farms and bothies The Plooman Laddie, I Will Lay Ye Doon, Love, and for good measure, one or two pieces from outside — the brilliant French-Canadian Hanged Man's Reel, some dashing Irish dance tunes, and the impressive Shoals of Herring, composed just a few years ago by Ewan MacColl for a BBC feature programme. Strong pieces that well show off the virtuosity of this good group whose minds — mercifully — run more on the music and the sense of the poetry than on the grin-and-gimmick of show biz