The latest in our series of reviews of albums from the past that deserve to be aired again! An extremely rare English Folk album from Ray & Colluney a duo using sparse guitar, mandolin and banjo but with flagolet on a few tracks helping to add atmosphere.
Every time I hear a outstanding Folk album I think that would be just perfect for the Classic Album Series. First thing to do is to sort out a safe download link and then after that look up the album and the people who recorded it and write up a wee history of the album. Today we have chosen an album that is an amazing 50 (fifty!) years old this year and yet I could hardly find a thing about it. I was drawn to the Ray & Colluney album Tyrants Of England because it was likened somewhere else to another album, the Irish duo Callinan-Flynn’s Freedom’s Lament, was featured in the very last Classic Album Review in October. With similar instrumentation and vocal styles and even recorded around the same time the similarity is definitely there. The early 70’s were halcyon saw in the Folk clubs of the British (and Irish) isles with them bristling with duos and artists singing tales and songs of the auld days. I did read that at the time Ray & Colluney were considered pretty standard Folk club fare but in this day and age when this style of music is much less common we can look back and see it for how good it actually was.
“You tyrants of England! Your race may soon be run.
You may be brought unto account for what you’ve sorely done.”
So what scant details did I find out about this album then? It was recorded in 1971, with only 200 vinyl copies issued and it was the first album released on the highly collectable Westwood Records which has since become a bit of a cult label with releases now reaching £50+. It was engineered By Alan Green and manufactured by Folk Heritage Recordings in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire.
“‘Tis advertised in Boston, New York and Buffalo,
Five hundred brave Americans, a-whaling for to go, singing
Blow, ye winds in the morning, And blow, ye winds, high-i!
Clear away your running gear, And blow, ye winds, high-o!”
Several of the songs featured here are pretty much Folk standards of the time and you may recognise a handful made popular by The Dubliners but under different song titles. The title song ‘Tyrants Of England’ is also known as ‘The Hand-Loom Weaver’s Lament’ and dates from the beginning of the industrialisation of the textile trade in Lancashire. It tells of the black period when supply outstripped the market due to increasing mechanisation. This caused a scarcity of jobs for the weavers and a decline in wages for those still fortunate enough to be employed. Ian Robb and Hang the Piper recorded the song in 1979 and Ian wrote of the song on the sleeve notes.
“The ‘gentlemen and tradesmen’ of the song followed the official propaganda line in blaming the Napoleonic wars and Bonaparte himself for much of the starvation and hardship which resulted. Apparently, however, the working men and women of the factories and mills were not so easily taken in, and many of them, seeing little decline in the comforts of the ruling and merchant classes, held a sneaking respect and admiration for ‘Boney’, whom they regarded as a champion of the poor.”
This is exactly the reason why we run this series to remember albums that are slowly passing out of memory. If anyone knows more about this album or what became of Ray and Trevor we’d love to hear.
1 Tyrants Of England – 3:21
2 Bogies Bonnie Belle – 2:22
3 Jack Hall – 2:44
4 Rambling Soldier – 1:58
5 Blow Ye Winds – 3:24
6 Calico Printers Clerk – 3:30
7 Cock Fight – 2:16
8 To The Begging – 2:28
9 A Sailor’s Life – 3:51
10 Farewell Nancy – 3:50
11 Rakish Young Sailor – 3:17
Ray Haslam – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Trevor Colluney – Vocals, Banjo, Mandolin
with Malcolm McDonald – Bass and John Hampson – Flageolet
flageolet, wind instrument closely related to the recorder. Like the recorder, it is a fipple, or whistle, flute—i.e., one sounded by a stream of breath directed through a duct to strike the sharp edge of a hole cut in the side of the pipe. The name flageolet—which comes from the Old French flageol, meaning ‘pipe’ or ‘tabor pipe’—was applied to such flutes at least from the 13th century, but from the late 16th century it has referred most specifically to a form of the instrument developed at that time in Paris.
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“In Manchester, fine city of cotton twist and twills,
There lived the subject of my song, the cause of all my ills.
She was handsome, young and twenty, her eyes were azure blue
Admirers she had plenty: and her name was Dorothy Drew.”