Having finally completed this, Nigel's third Decca album, we were soon working on ideas for the headline title. I distinctly remember Nigel saying that he didn't want a "folky" title, and I was in agreement. And we didn't feel we had one particular title on the album which would serve as a good headline title as well. Some two weeks passed, and few suggestions were forthcoming. Then, Nigel called me from his home in Lincoln. "Rebellion!" was suggested. Many of the tales included in this collection deal with rebels and the fortunes of war and battle. Others deal with the anguishes of life. The title seemed appropriate to the material.
To question Nigel's ability as a folk singer is unthinkable. His interpretation of these fine traditional songs, and his renderings of other more up-to-date items, is unsurpassed. I am only repeating what others have already said many times before. You know, before Nigel went into the studios, he called me and excitedly spoke of the songs he had collected together for this new album. He was also most anxious to get the services of certain musicians to accompany him: Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick and Felix Doran.
Martin Carthy is, without doubt, one of the finest folk guitarists in this country today, and his ability to "colour" songs by use of intricate finger patterns and chords is quite remarkable. Evidence of this is to be heard throughout this recording. Dave, who has recently teamed-up with Martin, is a fiddler and mandolinist of high repute. His mandolin work on "Tim Evans" and "Bruce Richard Reynolds" in particular, is worthy of mention. The champion Irish piper, Felix Doran, may be a new name to many. The pipes themselves may also be unfamiliar to some. Felix has been playing them for many years now, but he has rarely been heard on record. He made the journey from his northern home especially to accompany Nigel on two Irish songs, dating from the Rebellions of the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, "Bold Robert Emmet" and "Father Murphy".
Of the songs, some will be familiar: "Johnnie Cope", "I'm A Freeborn Man", "The Wee, Vise German Lairdie", "The Jolly Beggar" and "The Work of The Weavers" need little introduction. Of the others, "Kishmul's Galley" is from the Kennedy-Fraser collection; "The Ballad of Tim Evans", one of Ewan McColl's many compositions, deals with one of the most controversial events of this century, as does, in even fuller detail, Jim O'Connor's "Bruce Richard Reynolds", who was involved in the Great Train Robbery. "The Verdant Braes of Screen" is an Irish tale which Nigel first heard sung by the McPeake Family. The descriptive "Fiddach Side" is the only item here which Nigel sings unaccompanied. And then the two Irish heroes, "Hold Robert Emmet" and "Father Murphy". Just a short word concerning the last two mentioned figures. John Murphy was born, most probably in 1753, in Tincurry, Co. Wexford. He was, in his younger days, to take orders. As an Irish rebel he was captured, taken to Tullow, where he was reputedly whipped, hanged and beheaded, his body then being burnt. Robert Emmet, was born in Dublin in 1778. His political views were violently nationalist. On September 19th, 1803 he was tried and hanged the following day. History books have it that he "made a thrilling speech before receiving sentence, and also spoke from the gallows".
"The struggle is over, the boys are defeated,
Old Ireland surrounded with sadness and gloom,
O we were defeated and shamefully treated,
And I, Robert Emmet, am waiting my doom."
"Hung, drawn and quartered, sure that was my sentence,
But soon I will show them, no coward am I,
My crime is the love of the land I was born in,
A hero I lived and a hero I'll die."
"I was arrested and cast into prison,
Tried as a traitor, a rebel, a spy.
But no man can call me a knave or a coward,
A hero I lived and a hero I'll die."
"Hark, the bells tollin', I well know it's meanin',
My poor heart tells me, it 'tis my death now,
In come the clergy, the warder is leading,
I have no friends here, to bid me farewell."
"Goodbye old Ireland, my parents and sweetheart.
Companions in arms, to forget you must try,
I am proud of the honour, it was only my duty,
A hero I lived and a hero I'll die"
Nigel Denver is an important figure in the British Folk circles. He will go from strength to strength as long as he can make records such as this one.
Mike Vernon — Producer © 1967