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Chemical Worker’s Song

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 14681 ; Ron Angel]

Ron Angel sang his own Chemical Worker’s Song in 1974 with the Tees-side Fettlers on their Traditional Sound Recording album Ring of Iron. They noted:

Written by Ron, about 1964, the background of this lament is not the harrowing and dramatic accidents which can happen in a chemical works, but the process worker’s awareness of the long-term efforts of a working environment polluted by excessive noise, dust, noxious fumes etc.

Vin Garbutt sang The Chemical Worker’s Song live on his 1975 Trailer album The Young Tin Whistle Pest.

Simon Haworth sang the Chemical Worker’s Song in 1998 on his Fellside album Coast to Coast.

Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton sang the Chemical Worker’s Song on their 2000 CD A Thousand Miles or More.

Crucible sang the Chemical Worker’s Song in 2005 on their WildGoose album Crux. They noted:

Richard [Arrowsmith] learned Chemical Workers from the singing of Vin Garbutt. It was written by Ron Angel, who was a founder member of the Tees-side Fettlers and used to work for ICI, but who managed to get out of the chemical industry before it was too late.

The Young’uns sang The Chemical Worker’s Song on their 2012 album When Our Grandfathers Said No. They noted:

The Chemical Worker’s Song tells of the appalling conditions that Teessiders endured whilst working at ICI. It was written by one of our heroes, Ron Angel, who ran Stockton Folk Club for decades. He gave us the confidence to sing together for the first time and gave us our first booking (and our name!). Ron’s songs have travelled the world.

Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith sang the Chemical Worker’s Song in 2014 on their Fellside album Let the Wind Blow High or Low. They noted:

This incredible song about the appalling conditions people were made to work in not so long ago in this country is still relevant in many places around the world today. It was written by Tees-side Fettler and shantyman Ron Angel. A friend learnt it from Vin Garbutt and used to sing it at our local folk club then it came to mind when Sid met Ron at Richmond Folk Club many years later.

Sound Tradition sang the Chemical Worker’s Song on their 2014 album Blackbird.

The Demon Barbers sang Go Boys Go (Chemical Worker’s Song) on their 2015 CD Disco at the Tavern.


The Young’uns sing The Chemical Worker’s Song

A process man am I and I’m telling you no lie,
I work and breath among the fumes that trail across the sky.
There’s thunder all around me and a poison in the air,
There’s a lousy smell that smacks o’ hell and dust all in my hair.

Chorus (after each verse, twice at the end):
And it’s go boys go!
They’ll time your every breath.
And every day you’re in this place
You’re two days nearer death.
But you go!

I’ve worked among the spinners, I’ve breathed in the oily smoke,
I’ve shovelled up the gypsum and it nigh on makes you choke.
I’ve stood knee deep in cyanide, been sick with a caustic burn,
Been working rough and seen enough to make your stomach turn.

There’s overtime and bonus opportunity galorem
The young lads like the money and they all come back for more.
But soon you’re knocking on and you look older than you should,
For every bob made on this job you’ll pay with flesh and blood.