THE HOUR THAT THE SHIP COMES IN:
Despite the overwhelming popularity of Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind" and "The Times They are A-Changing", this characteristic song from America's most eloquent angry young man is one of his best. Like most of the others, it takes a sidelong swipe at something. Choose your enemy-you'll find the song fits.
POLLY WOLLY DOODLE:
A gem from the most authentic of folk sources. The Islanders picked it up in snatches from a well-wisher in a Glasgow pub. They've kicked it about a bit. added a line or two here and there, but preserved the earthy honesty and robustness of the original.
FOUR STRONG WINDS:
Ian Tyson, a Canadian singer, wrote this beautiful song about his country and her migrant workers. The Canadian climate is so extreme that casual, outdoor workers follow the sun in search of a job. From the tobacco fields of Ontario they cross to the rolling wheat fields of the prairies, then on again to the orchards of British Columbia. love touches their lives it, too, must be left behind when the sun bids them on.
THE PAWN SONG:
Unlikely as it may seem. Ian, the banjo player in the group, is a pawn-broker. As such he is probably nearer to the roots of folk music than any other performer in the British Isles. Ian wrote this song in between lending half-crowns on such assorted valuable; as the sheets off the family bed or the fireplace fender. The "knock", by the way is a clock. The "cludgie" as if you hadn't guessed, is the smallest room in the house.
MARY DON'T YOU WEEP:
One of the "standards" amongst the gospel songs. The group enjoy these rumbustious American hymns and sing many of them round the clubs. This is a fair example of the enthusiasm and vigour which can make even a folk cliche sound fresh and exciting.
SPANISH IS A LOVING TONGUE:
A traditional and very beautiful love ballad based on the Spanish phrase, "mi amor, mi corazon". American scholars dispute its place of origin, but it is obvious from its narrative that the border referred to is the line between Mexico and United States.
A whole book has been written about the heroic exploits of John Henry, America's most redoubtable folk hero. By pitting his muscles against the power of the automatic steam drill John Henry was not the first man to challenge the machine, but he remains the champion of all who see something in the human spirit that no machine can ever match.
THE DARK ISLAND:
The history of this song is complicated yet simple. The tune is a traditional Highland pipe tune which was adapted and used for the B.B.C. television serial "The Dark Island." So far as anyone knows no lyric had been written for it up until that time. I had always loved the melody but remained dissatisfied with such published lyrics that appeared after the tune became popular. While we were making this disc I wrote a lyric for the Islanders and they liked it enough to want to put in on their first LP. If this version of "The Dark Island" disappoints, the fault is mine.
A happily daft little song from the prolific pen of Matt McGinn, a Glasgow ex-school teacher, whose great gift is his ability to write songs of contemporary life in what sounds like an authentic, Traditional idiom. This one could be passed off as yet another Glasgow street song. handed down from generation to generation, like the rituals and games of the plavground. The chances are-and this would be a great tribute to Matt McGinn — that fifty years from now ' Red Yo-Yo " will be as much part of folk history as "Coulter's Candy."
NO IRISH NEED APPLY:
The Clancy Brothers sang this song to the late President Kennedy at the White House. The President's grandfather had heard it in Boston in the middle of the last century-at a time when " no Irish need apply" meant what it said.
To " swim the golden river" in this context means to ' go over the top", to engage battle. This is a modern song, written by Jimmy Driftwood, about the American Civil War.
JOLLY ROVING TARS:
Jack the sailor, even to this day, is still one of the easiest "touches" in the world. Sailors, they say, don't care. And they don't seem to learn, either, despite the fact that, as this lyric shows, they know how welcome they are when they come ashore with empty wallets.
BANKS O' SICILY:
Another pipe tune turned into a song. Hamish Henderson, whose contribution to the preservation and revival of Scottish folk music will never be adequately rewardeo involved in the Sicilian campaign in the Second World War. He wrote this fine lyric as a tribute to the "Jocks " who fought so well in that campaign.
W. GORDON SMITH
Q. Well, who are they, anyway?
A. Jim Craig (with the beard), Nancy (his wife), Ian [ sic] Macintosh (with banjo), and John Noble. Everyone except John is an unadulterated Glaswegian. John comes from Buckie that glittering metropolis of the north-east.
Q. So they're not really islanders, are they?
A. Of course they are. Aren't we all nowadays. No man is an island, but every man is an islander. If only a traffic islander.
Q. Isn't that a very cynical attitude?
A. Of course it is-until you try and cross Sauchiehall Street at five o'clock on a Saturday night.
Q. is there any significance in the "Keep Left" sign?
Q. Political significance?
A. Oh yes.
Q. They're radicals then?
A. Absolutely. They believe, unequivocally, in the doctrine of keeping left of the right of centre.
Q. In other words, in the middle of the road?
A. On the island.
Q. And what do they do?
A. Sing, of course. And enjoy themselves.
Q. But what do they do during the day?
A. You're being very Scottish.
Q. They're professionals then?
A. In attitude if not in status.
Q. Will you answer my question please?
A. Jim is a university lecturer, his wife is a lecturer, Ian's [ sic] profession is explained elsewhere, and John is a student. Message ends.
Q. And where do they sing?
A. In clubs, at concerts, on radio and television, in the streets if need be.
Q. Have they any ambitions?
A. To stay humble with 20,000 a year.
Q. Are they any good?
A. Do you mind?
Q. Well, are they?
A. You're joking.
Q. No, seriously…
A. Yes, seriously.
The Islanders: Jim, with the beard, is the lead singer. Eddie, with the mexican[ sic] moustache, is lead guitarist and Nancy is lead tambourine. They make the singing sounds, and they're good, while Pete looks after the double bass.
It's about four years since they started and they soon came to the top in Scotland with their records, and their own radio and TV series but make no mistake about it, this is no Heather and Haggis outfit. Like the loch they're international with a liking for good songs wherever they come from. And their work reflects this since they are as much at home with cabaret in a slick nightspot as in the smoky confines of a folk club or topping the bill in our best known theatres.
But most importantly The Islanders are people who have successfully combined the best of all worlds in their singing and their songs. With a fine sense of tradition they still see and face today's problems and blend both into something which is still pure entertainment. They haven't set out to preach or pontificate, point fingers or punish. They enjoy what they do and they do it well.
There are many singers who'll give you a song to the accompaniment of a battery of untutored guitars and still others who can pick so dizzv a banjo that you lose the lyric completely. The Islanders have achieved that happy balance between voice and instrument which proclaims their sheer professionalism.
They want you to enjoy their songs and especially to enjoy this record. And you will.
I AIN'T MARCHIN' ANY MORE
It seems crazy that a protest song should have such a martial tune but maybe if the music catches your ear the words and the sentiment will filter in too.
EARLY IN THE MORNING
An unmistakably Canadian song with a lonesome sound like those far off spots "somewhere on the mountain" that it speaks of.
LAST CLASS SEAMAN
Wine. Women and…well nobody wrote better on the subject than Woody Guthrie and here he's in typical earthy form in an untypical sea song.
HUSH LITTLE BABE
Some traditional songs can soldier on for ever unscathed, while others get progressively more meaningless. What can you legally do with a mocking bird anyway? The face-lift was long overdue.
NO MORE WORDS
At last Nancy, released temporarily from her blistering tambourine work, takes the lead in a burlesque love song of our own composition.
THE GALLOWA HILLS
"Still strangely remote Galloway is one of the last unspoiled areas of Scotland" drones on the travelogue. But it's true, just the same.
Love's most traditional story of the absent sweetheart who changes so much that his girl doesn't know him when he returns to "chat her up" seven years later. Seems hardly surprising. You should have seen us seven years ago!
STEEL RAIL BLUES
Folk music has a fascination for all forms of travel and the rail road wanderer has ever been a favourite subject.
This modern song still seems to capture all the power and glamour that was the railroad train.
GOING TO THE ZOO
With my personal loathing for zoos and circuses I still find this song strangely attractive. Let the kids hear it. They'll love it and sing it…and sing it…and sing it…and…
Youth and age stay sadly apart even in these enlightened days. Although we are all pre-judged and guilty there are still, happily, many young people willing to try for their own particular sun.
PRIDE OF MAN
A biblical war which is still being fought in very real terms 2,000 years on and still no nearer solution. A strong song, a warning and a possible answer.
YES, YES, YES
Most important here is your pronunciation and how your mind works. Eddie, who sings this solo, thinks you'll get the picture early on.
WILD FLYING DOVE
If Tom Paxton really did write this song for his wife, we fed a little guilty for intruding, but it's so lovely that we just couldn't resist.
TWA RECRUITIN- SERGEANTS
Before the days of the TV Commercial the Army had its own at men selling die "man's life" angle even then, at country fairs and the likes. This Scottish song has all the i especially- the language.
Despite the absence of a glossary we thin you'll sentiment, set to an old pipe tune. A strangely universal from a country that normally looks inwards and backwards.
THAT'S MY SONG
"And to sum it up". A song that says it all neatly and nicely. The closing number for all our concerts, clubs, cabarets, bingo halls, and cinema queues. It's been fun for us and we hope there's "Still that yearning" for more.
Television programmes, like record albums, can be a long time in the making. And, in a sense, genesis of the TV series on which this record is based occurred more than twenty years ago. It was as a schoolboy that I first encountered ships' patterns in a Clydeside junkyard. Many-sized, multi-shaped, wooden frames, they are used in casting parts of the main engines. They fascinated me then-and fascinate me still-a splendid record of a unique trade. So, when Scottish Television were looking for a new format and a new studio setting in which to stage The Islanders' kind of music, it seemed to me that the patterns I had first seen all those years ago would suit our purpose admirably. Much more than just a marvellous set of props, the connection between the patterns and the music we were presenting was very real: folk music and craft skills are often linked by a common heritage. And the patterns soon proved the strength of our argument by adding another dimension to the songs performed by The Islanders and their guests.
Incidentally, the patterns, which our Archie McArthur manipulated so skillfully on the show were authentic down to the smallest detail. Stephen's Engineering, of Linthouse, Glasgow, agreed to lend them for the entire run of the series-on the strict understanding that if a ship broke down, and we had the appropriate pattern, it would be returned immediately! This didn't happen which in ways is a pity. I can just imagine the look on Jim Craig's face if the set had disappeared half-way through one of his numbers
We had worked together on several television programmes in the past, but Patterns of Folk was The Islanders first full starring role in a series of their own. What we wanted to present was a new kind of folk show-one which would appeal to committed devotees and a general audience alike. Indeed, the break with tradition was so complete that on one occasion the boys appeared in pink suits. Expensive too! Their material-the songs, not the suits- also reflected the best of folk music everywhere. Seven television programmes devour more than seventy songs and, unfortunately, we can't use all of them on this record, but record producer Bryce Laing has managed to capture the full, robust flavour of much of the TV series.
Consider, for instance, the always-funny JEELY-PIECE SONG, and its account of high living frustrations if you happen still to be a weanling, or the equally authentic, but more serious ORANGE AND THE GREEN, containing as it does a pointed message for bigots of either hue. There's also an unusual and little-heard version of the WILD COLONIAL BOY sung in forceful fashion by Jim. Gentler and very different is Nancy's sad and lonely promise, I NEVER .WILL MARRY, and the haunting, poignant FAREWELL TO FUINARY so beautifully performed by Ed.
I won't list my own special favourite, but I will say that there isn't & bad song on the entire record. If you agree that it had its beginnings all those years ago, I hope you will agree that it was well worth that wait.