This part of the blog is where we have over the years come across hidden gems from a bygone age that beg to be heard and listened to again. Lost and sometimes forgotten songs from legends and unknowns that have inspired and provoked folk music and musicians right up to our modern celtic-punk music. There’s also the history behind the recordings and of the performers themselves.These records are usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you. If any of the links go down simply leave a comment and we will try our best to re-upload it for you. Similarly if you are aware of any copyright to any of these please leave a comment and we will be happy to either remove or link if you prefer to your site. Any further information on any of these recordings/performers is welcome feel free to comment or correct.
VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘People Take Warning! Murder Ballads And Disaster Songs 1913-1938’ here
Authentic folk and country music from black and white performers from the roots of America’s musical traditions. Seventy beautifully remastered songs from a multitude of artists on a three x CD set with over half on CD for the very first time.
EWAN MacCOLL -‘Bad Lads And Hard Cases: British Ballads Of Crime And Criminals’ (1959) here
The legendary Ewan MacColl charts the penal history of these Isles in song it has stood the test of time as have many of the songs and as criminality and criminals have long been a subject matter for celtic punk bands then this album fully deserves a listen. As is the way many of these songs have lost their true meaning down the years so find out their real history. On this album Ewan is accompanied on the guitar and banjo by his wife Peggy Seeger.
EWAN MacCOLL AND PEGGY SEEGER – ‘The Jacobite Rebellions’ (1962) here
A series of uprisings, rebellions and wars across Scotland, Ireland and England between 1688 and 1746. They ended in failure and the repression that the English rained down on the Scots after their victory would end with untold thousands leaving Scotland to make better lives in the America’s. Ewan was the Manchester-born son of a Gaelic-speaking mother and Lowland father from whom he inherited more than a hundred songs and ballads and was immensely proud of his Scots roots.
VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘Don’t Mourn. Organize!- Songs Of Labor Songwriter Joe Hill’ here
Joe Hill’s powerful words have moved countless artists to blend politics and song and this dramatic tribute to the Industrial Workers of the World songwriter and activist Joe Hill, features songs by and about Hill performed by Billy Bragg, Pete Seeger, Earl Robinson, Paul Robeson and others. An absolute treasure for anyone interested in American folk and labour music.
LEADBELLY- ‘Easy Rider’ here
Huddie Ledbetter, known as Leadbelly, was an old-school wrecking ball of folk-singing awesomeness. A truly unique figure in American music of the 20th century. Often mistaken as a blues performer he was a profound influence on the folk stars of the 1940s such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, who in turn influenced the folk revival and the development of rock music from the 1960s onward. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame early in the Hall’s life, and his music, which became insanely more popular after his death, has been covered by dozens of bands, all of whom cite the hard-drinking, hard-fighting Leadbelly as a major influence on their careers.
VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘The Little Red Box Of Protest Songs’ here
A three CD box-set full of the finest American folk music from the early 20th century. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the publication of the American protest song book, ‘The Little Red Song Book’ this collection traces the roots of protest song in the US from the first half of the last century up to the Fifties illustrating how the stage was set for the folk protest giants of the Sixties such as Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs. Featuring classic performances by Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, Leadbelly, The Almanac Singers, The Weavers and many many more.
GIL SCOTT-HERON- ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ here
Known as the ‘Godfather Of Rap’ Gil Scott-Heron was a well respected composer, musician, author and poet he remains best known for writing and performing the spoken-word track ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’. Well it’s also a little known fact that Gil Scott Heron’s old man, Gil Heron was the first black player to play for Celtic. Known as ‘The Black Arrow’ the Jamaican-born Heron played one season in the Hoops during the 1951-52 season
EWAN MacCOLL- ‘Scots Drinking Songs’ (1956) here
2015 marked the 100th anniversary of the legendary Ewan MacColl’s birth and although ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ and ‘Dirty Old Town’ remain his biggest ‘hits’ he also wrote and recorded hundreds of traditional songs baring the experience of the working class. Ewan worked as a garage hand, builder’s labourer, trade union organizer, journalist, radio scriptwriter, actor and dramatist and wrote and broadcast extensively about folk music and frequently took part in radio and TV shows.
VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘Protest! American Protest Songs 1928-1953’ here
VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘Women Folk- Iconic Women Of American Folk’ here
Published to celebrate ‘International Women’s Day’ this excellent compilation featuring five of the greatest ever folk music artists to have ever lived. Sadly three of the five are no longer with us and only one is still performing but this music represents the pioneers of the folk music movement in America. Odetta, Jean Ritchie, Carolyn Hester, Barbara Dane and Etta Baker set the standard for female artists of their day and went on to influence the likes of Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez and Judy Collins directly as well as all who those who followed in their footsteps.
VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘The Greatest Songs Of Woody Guthrie’ here
Woody Guthrie was the single most important folk music artist of the 20th century, in part because he turned out to be such a major influence on the popular music of the second half of the 20th century. He performed continually throughout his life with his guitar frequently displaying the slogan ‘This Machine Kills Fascists’. His greatest significance lies in his songwriting. Songs like the standard ‘This Land Is Your Land’ and much-covered works as ‘Deportee’, ‘Do Re Mi’, ‘Hard, Ain’t It Hard’, ‘Hard Travelin’, ‘1913 Massacre’, ‘Pretty Boy Floyd’ are all featured on ‘The Greatest Songs Of Woody Guthrie’ in one way or another.
THE DUBLINERS- ‘A Best Of The Dubliners’ here
Without doubt the best known band in the Celtic music world. Formed in 1962 their first hit single ‘Seven Drunken Nights’ launched them into international stardom. Non stop touring and a stint with The Pogues ensured that the popularity of their music never ebbed. Without them it is highly debatable whether or not celtic-punk would have ever come about as Shane McGowan himself has said. The Dubliners- The first and original celtic-punk band.
JOHNNY CASH- ‘The Christmas Album’ (1963) here
Though he would go on to later make umpteen Christmas themed albums this was Johnny Cash’s first attempt and by far and away his greatest. Released in 1963 The Christmas Spirit features twelve songs of which many were penned either by the great man himself or his family and a handful of Johnny’s unparalleled Christmas standards such as ‘The Little Drummer Boy’, ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Blue Christmas’. When i was a young one it wasn’t Christmas if my Mammy hadn’t played some Johnny Cash!
THE CLANCY BROTHERS AND TOMMY MAKEM- ‘Come Fill Your Glass With Us ‘ (1959) here
The Clancy Brothers were brothers who, along with longtime companion Tommy Makem, are among the most important figures in Irish music history. Still considered as one of the most internationally renowned Irish folk bands and some have even gone so far as to credit them as being among the main inspirations in the American folk revival of the ’50s and ’60s. As you can tell instantly from the album’s title, ‘Come Fill Your Glass with Us’, the album is a virtual soundtrack of Irish pub life. The recording perfectly evokes the hard-drinking, late-night atmosphere of a working man’s Irish pub.
‘Steady As She Goes. Songs And Chanties From The Days of Commercial Sail’ (1976) (here)
‘THE HANGMAN’S BLUES: Prison Songs In Country Music 1956-1972 (2016) (here)
This isn’t technically a part of the Steppin’ Stones series but does fit the criteria perfectly. Grim tales of jailbirds, cutthroats, cuckolds, executioners, murderers and escapees. Prison ballads form part of the historic lifeblood of Country Music and saw a resurgence after the 1960 execution of controversial convict Caryl Chessman. Here are some of the very best, seldom heard since their original release. From smooth balladeers of woe to ramshackle and plaintive backyard rockabilly. The tracks here were first issued on long forgotten 45’s and all are incredibly rare and many are reissued here for the first time since release and remastered from the original master tapes.
DICK GAUGHAN- ‘Handful Of Earth’ (1981) (here)
Long considered one of the greatest folk voices of our time and acknowledged as one of Scotland’s most outstanding musicians. Handful Of Earth is renowned as not only his best album but also as one of the best folk album’s of all time. A brilliant album that features Brian McNeill, Phil Cunningham and Stewart Isbister and is, without doubt, Gaughan’s best blend of traditional and contemporary songs. He may be taking a break through illness but he’s always in our hearts and minds.
FLOYD WESTERMAN- Custer Died For Your Sins (1969) (here)
Floyd ‘Red Crow’ Westerman was a Dakota Sioux musician, political activist, and actor. After establishing a career as a country music singer he later in his life became the leading actor depicting Native Americans in American films and TV. He worked as a political activist and sadly released only two full-length albums, one of which features here, Custer Died For Your Sins. The album took its title from a popular Native American book of the time. We published this on the 10th anniversary of his sad passing and it was always considered a shame, by people better placed than us, that he never got around to making another. After all his people and their sad and tragic history could certainly supply the material to fill them.