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Classic A.L. Lloyd

A.L. Lloyd: Classic A.L. Lloyd (Fellside FECD98)

Classic A.L. Lloyd
A.L. Lloyd with Alf Edwards, English concertina and Dave Swarbrick, fiddle

Fellside Recordings FECD98 / FE098 (CD / cassette, UK, 1994)

This release compiled, remastered and produced by Paul Adams;
Issued under licence from Topic Records Ltd except
Tracks 23-24 recorded live by John Kaneen at the Top Lock Folk Club, Runcorn, on 5 November 1972;
Track 10 which was supplied by Peter Bellamy.

Grateful thanks to all those credited tor contributing to this project. Also to Tony Engle at Topic (for his patience), to Nigel Bewley at the National Sound Archive (who hunted for the missing master tapes), to Malcolm Taylor of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library for finding some missing notes, to the late Peter Bellamy for enthusing and sending me one track, and to John Kaneen who came up trumps and especially to Dave Arthur because if he hadn’t taken so long to deliver the biography the album would have been out and we would have missed being able to include the live tracks.


A.L. Lloyd: vocals;
Alf Edwards: English concertina [1-2, 4-5, 8, 10, 16];
Steve Benbow: guitar [3];
Dave Swarbrick: fiddle [5, 16, 18, 20];
Martin Carthy: mandolin [5];
Peggy Seeger: guitar [7];
John Cole: harmonica [7];
Trevor Lucas: chorus [5, 8];
Martyn Wyndham-Read: chorus [5, 8, 22];
Ewan MacColl and others: chorus [6];
Roy Harris, Ian Manuel, Bernard Wrigley: chorus [22]


Side 1

  1. John Barleycorn (Roud 164; G/D 3:559) (2.49)
  2. The Foggy Dew (Roud 558; Laws O3; G/D 7:1496) (3.23)
  3. Skewball (Roud 456; Laws Q22) (2.25)
  4. Farewell to Tarwathie (Roud 2562; G/D 1:15) (2.55)
  5. Talcahuano Girls (Roud 32688) (3.10)
  6. Blood Red Roses (Roud 931) (2.04)
  7. The Cockies of Bungaree (Roud 20415) (5.50)
  8. Flash Jack From Gundagai (Roud 24704) (4.30)
  9. The Weaver and the Factory Maid (Roud 17771) (2.29)
  10. Walker Hill and Byker Shore (Roud 3488) (1.40)
  11. St James’s Hospital (Roud 2; Laws Q26; G/D 7:1404; Henry H680) (2.20)
  12. I Wish, I Wish (Roud 8738) (2.52)

Side 2

  1. Jack Orion (Roud 145; Child 67) (3.59)
  2. The Lover’s Ghost (Roud 179; Child 248) (2.28)
  3. Short Jacket and White Trousers (Roud 231; Laws N12) (1.56)
  4. Sovay, the Female Highwayman (Roud 7; Laws N21; Henry H35) (2.22)
  5. Reynardine (Roud 397; Laws P15; G/D 2:333) (2.36)
  6. Farewell Nancy (Roud 527; Laws K14; Henry H755) (2.48)
  7. Fanny Blair (Roud 1393) (3.30)
  8. The Two Magicians (Roud 1350; Child 44; G/D 2:334) (4.41)
  9. The Demon Lover (Roud 14; Child 243; G/D 2:332) (3.55)
  10. Roll Her Down the Bay (1.31)
  11. Tamlyn (Young Tambling) (Roud 35; Child 39; G/D 2:330) (7.30)
  12. The Widow of Westmorland’s Daughter (Roud 228; G/D 7:1439) (2.30)

All tracks trad. except
Track 4 George Scroggie

#1-2 are from All For Me Grog: English Drinking Songs, (TOP66, 1962);
#3 is from Gamblers and Sporting Blades (TOP71, 1962);
#4-5 are from Leviathan! Ballads and Songs of the Whaling Trade (12T174, 1967);
#6 is from Row Bullies Row (8T7, 1957);
#7 is from Outback Ballads: Songs From the Australian Bush and Outback (12T51, 1960);
#8 is from The Great Australian Legend: A Panorama of Bush Balladry and Song (12TS203, 1971);
#9 is from The Iron Muse. A Panorama of Industrial Folk Music (12T86, 1963);
#10 is from Peter Bellamy’s archive;
#11-19 are from First Person (12T118, 1966);
#20 is from The Bird in the Bush: Traditional Erotic Songs (12T135, 1966);
#21 is from English & Scottish Folk Ballads (12T103, 1964);
#22 is from Sea Shanties (12TS234, 1974);
#23-24 recorded live by John Kaneen at the Top Lock Folk Club, Runcorn, on 5 November 1972; later release on An Evening With A.L. Lloyd (FECD220, 2010)

Sleeve Notes

Note by Dave Swarbrick

I first met Bert at a BBC session for one of the radio ballads and from then on the majority of work we did together were sessions, either for the BBC or for records such as the tracks hereon. For lots of reasons I was always delighted to get a call from Bert. It meant that I would be teamed with Alf Edwards, an astonishing musician and one of a breed of gentleman musicians long gone. Alf would precede most sessions with half an hour’s warm up on the concertina and he would play a selection from the Paganini caprices, “They loosen my fingers, dear boy,” he would say.

Looking back now, I think astonishment was the order of the day when these tracks were cut. The great songs that are currency now were sorted out by Bert and presented one at a time at the session, rehearsed for ten minutes or so and then recorded, often the first take was enough. After we had listened to it, Bert would say, “Gooood now here’s one I think you will like” and we would start all over again; Sovay, Reynardine, The Two Magicians and many, many more, were all represented in this way.

Note by Martin Carthy

It was considered a privilege to work for Bert. He was a peerless and unique singer, and an astonishing musician. He was also a spell-binding story-teller, with a great deal of charisma. I looked up to him then and I still do.

Bert was a great, if hugely under appreciated singer, a marvellous story-teller and a friend who well understood the role that invention plays in a continuing, thriving and growing tradition, and who never flinched from adding his two penn’orth. He was modest about his own achievements - formidably self educated and multi-lingual, but never so about his belief that truly the sky is the limit for the so-called common man. We shall not see his like again.

Note by Norma Waterson

Bert was one of the warmest, funniest and most knowledgeable men I have known. I still miss him and consider myself honoured to have known him.

Note by Martyn Wyndham-Read

On one occasion I needed to complete an obscure Australian song and I knew that Bert, with his wealth of knowledge and his unbounded generosity, would be only too happy to provide me with the missing verse. So I ’phoned him and he said, “Come round straight away.”

When I arrived his wife Charlotte ushered me up to his study, from which emanated the sound of some weird and wonderful Albanian folk music. As I entered, he was sitting there completely engrossed and motioned for me to be seated. I sat quietly until the piece finished, at which point Bert simply raised his head and said, “The verse you wanted goes like this ...”

Bert’s keenness to share with everyone the knowledge that he had accumulated over the years, often at first hand was just one of the characteristics that endeared him to so many people Both as a singer and as a friend, Bert was a unique individual, and my life has been the richer for having known him.

Note by Hughie Jones

Many years ago when The Spinners career was in its infancy I remember us approaching Bert at London’s Ballads & Blues Club and asking the big question, “What is a folksong?” We could not accept Sharp’s definition entirely, so subsequently when asked by media people we simply quoted Bert’s reply, “a folksong is something that touches you.” Though the enquiry is not made so much today, I still feel his succinct reply applicable now.

The help and encouragement he gave so freely to young revival singers was legendary. I have to this day a hand-written manuscript he sent me in 1963 of Sweet William’s Ghost. His memory was certainly on my mind when I sang the ballad on Fellside’s Voices recording.

Although he held an esteemed position as Folksong contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, he had the knack in conversation, of expressing opinions in a more basic manner. When asked to describe how The Spinners would fit into the tradition, his reply placed us in the position of village entertainers who would perform in surrounding areas for financial rewards. Make of that what you will!

Note by Frankie Armstrung

I owe much to many great singers, but it was Bert above all who taught me always to see the song as more important than the singer - that it is our job to bring our craft, our intelligence and our passion to serve the song. He taught me integrity as an artist.

Note by Roy Harris

I’ve spent more than half my life under the spell of folk music, folk song in particular. It’s a spell that shows no sign of lifting as the years roll by and I don’t mind at all. I remain happily spellbound. The man on this album was one of the wizards who brought me to this state. As you listen to him sing you’ll understand why.

Bert Lloyd loved to tell stories, and his singing was moved by the same impulse. Although he voiced the melodies well, it was the story of the song that came first with him. He described their heroes and heroines as “sprightly”, “resourceful”, “spirited”, “noble” etc, and his singing/telling reflected this, making the song more understandable and enjoyable en-route. His introductions to songs were works of art in themselves illuminating the life behind the words and music. Songs were never just “material” to him.

Bert moved through the folk revival in its early and following days teaching and guiding in the beguilingly persuasive way that was essentially his. He scattered his gifts of scholarship and knowledge without stint, like some old-time farmworker, sowing broadcast. He gave songs to hundreds of singers - I’m one of them he gave encouragement and guidance to hundreds more.

It’s true that Bert was a brilliant folklorist, academic, author, creator of TV and radio documentaries, but I remember him best for the charm of his company and for his unique way with a song. I know that he is dead, but I remember him with a smile. As I said earlier, “listen ... you’ll understand why.”

Note by Louis Killen

Bert was a mentor to so many of us in the folk revival. He was certainly a major influence in my development as a singer of traditional music. In a letter he wrote to me shortly before his death, responding to my appreciation for all he’d given myself and others, he rejected the idea that he was in any way responsible for “teaching” us to sing or “interpret” the songs. “That was Ewan’s affair,” he said, but he went on to say, “If I did anything to instill a bit more understanding and respect for the more serious parts of the repertoire, the idea would please me.” He certainly did that, and much more as his singing on this album shows.

Note by Paul Adams

I heard Bert Lloyd in the mid-sixties first on a record singing Skewball and then in person at The Singers Club in London. I never knew him well - we corresponded a few times and he wrote some sleeve notes for one of my productions - but I always found myself drawn to his singing because he communicates so well. Whatever his limitations as a singer, his obvious enjoyment of the songs and his ability to tell a story come across well on these recordings. It is a rare achievement and the mark of someone special. Just listen to how he is in full command of a song like The Lover’s Ghost, how he empathises with the hero in The Cockies of Bungaree, how he paces Fanny Blair superbly or simply delivers what must be the definitive rendering of Blood Red Roses. This collection is my own selection. It is representative, but not exhaustive. You could argue for more whaling songs or more Australian songs, why not this song or that one. I cannot answer for anyone else’s preferences.

The recordings were made between the late 1950s and the mid 1970s, often not in studio conditions, and they vary in quality. Tracks 1 and 2 were dubbed from the original disc because the master tapes could not be found. They were treated using the CEDAR process to make them acceptable. Apart from some re-equalisation no other processing has been done to the tapes. The last two tracks were recorded on a portable cassette recorder.

Notes on the songs, edited from notes written by A. L. Lloyd

John Barleycorn

The song is related to the ancient idea of the Corn King. Perhaps too neatly so, hence the suspicion that it may not be a genuine piece of primitive folklore. It is old (it was already in print c.1635) and has been passed on by generations of country singers. The tune is a variant of Dives and Lazarus

The Foggy Dew

An East Anglian version of this widely known song (reputedly the first folk song Bert consciously learnt). Sometimes the girl is frightened by a ghost: the ’bugaboo’. Sometimes disturbed by the weather: the ’foggy dew’. Some say the foggy dew is a virginity symbol; others say the words are there by accident or corruption.


There seems nothing spectacular about this particular horse race to catch the ballad maker’s fancy, but it’s as widespread as the English language itself. This version is Irish in origin.

Farewell to Tarwathie

The oldtime whalemen often showed a strong liking for gentle meditative songs. This song was made not by a whaleman, but by a miller, George Scroggie of Federate, near Aberdeen around the middle of the nineteenth century. The tune is an old favourite best known in connection with the song Green Bushes.

Talcahuano Girls

The song Spanish Ladies was on the go in Samuel Pepys’ day and it survived well in countless parodies of which this is one. Talcahuano lies south of Valparaiso in Chile; Huasco is about midway between Vallypo and Antofagasta; Tumbez is on the Gulf of Guayanquil, near the Equator: odorous ports, all three.

Blood Red Roses

For a halyard shanty this one is unusually well evolved. Stan Hugill thinks it probably started life early in the nineteenth century. I’d have thought later, by its shape. Its first mention in print is 1879. Old Cape Horners have been unable to suggest the meaning of the refrain. In some Napoleon ballads the British army is referred to as “the bunch of roses.” More probably it’s an image garbled from a scrap quoted by Hugill: “Come down with your pretty posy / Come down with your cheeks so rosy”

The Cockies of Bungaree

There is some pretty poor country around Bungaree. Perhaps that was what made the cockies such skinflints thereabouts. The song began life as the doleful complaint of a potato lifter. At some time along the road it caught up with another called The Stringybark Cockatoo and this version is the offspring of this honourable if humble union. I had the tune and some of the words from James Hamilton, of Albury, NSW. Whipped the cat: complained.

Flash Jack From Gundagai

What is special about Gundagai that earns it such frequent mention in folklore? Perhaps its position as a near halfway stage on the Sydney-Melbourne high road made it loom large in the shearer’s imagination. Banjo Paterson published a version in his Old Bush Songs in 1905. I heard it in Bethungra in the 1920s.

Pinked ’em: shorn the sheep so closely the skin showed.
Wolseleys and B-Bows: makes of machine shears and hand shears respectively.
Rung Cujingie Shed: a ringer is a champion shearer.
Whaling up the Lachlan: fishing in the Lachlan river.

The Weaver and the Factory Maid

The earliest weavers’ songs are from the time when handloom weavers went from village to village, setting up in farmhouse and cottage kitchens. Amorous chances were plenty. The invention of the powerloom and the establishment of textile factories brought a great change in the handloom weavers’ lives. This song, lyrical and wry, curiously illuminates this moment in history when the handworkers were finding themselves obliged to follow the girls into the factories and weave by steam, and when country song was changing to town song. (12T86)

Walker Hill and Byker Shore

As Walker Pits it was first printed in John Bell’s Rhymes of Northern Bards (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1812). It is sung here to the north eastern dance tune My Dearie Sits Ower Late Up (NB Curiously Bert sings the title words the opposite way round from those which have come to be in common circulation in Folk clubs. This was pointed out by the late Peter Bellamy who supplied this recording.)

St James’s Hospital

It’s often said that a folk song has no fixed form: passing from mouth to mouth it’s likely to take on various shapes adapted to sundry circumstances. Few songs illustrate this better than the one here, sometimes called The Unfortunate Rake. It has become a sailors’ song, a cowboy song, a jazz blues and even an unofficial anthem of the Royal Marine Commandos. In one version even the sexes get reversed. It is known variously as: The Whores of the City, The Young Girl Cut Down in Her Prime, The Streets of Laredo, Lee Tharin’s Bar-Room, St James Infirmary and The Dying Marine.

I Wish, I Wish

This song resides in the manuscript of the aforementioned John Bell of Newcastle. The song is something of a masterpiece, but seems to have dropped right out of the tradition after Bell noted it in the early years of the nineteenth century. He called it A Pitman’s Love Song. Bell gave no tune for it so I have fitted one.

Jack Orion

In the roll call of famous musicians the sonorous name of the Bardd Glas Geraint - Geraint, the Blue Bard occurs. He was a ninth century Welsh harper of such legendary eminence that when Chaucer wrote his House of Fame he set ’the Bret Clascurion’ up in the minstrels’ gallery alongside Orpheus and similar well known string-pickers. That was in the 1380s, some five hundred years after the harper’s time, but his fame endured for much longer in the English folk ballad named Glasgerion. The ballad dropped out of tradition long ago, but the story it tells is an engaging one (a modern and more democratic parallel is Do Me Ama) and it seemed to me too good a song to be shut away in books, so I took it out and dusted it off a bit and set a tune to it and, I hope, started it on a new lease of life.

The Lover’s Ghost

One of the most persistent of the great ballads is the piece often called The Grey Cock, although, curiously enough, Francis J. Child never found a full set of it. This version, more formally lyrical than usual, and presenting the woman as the ghostly revenant, is one the great Irish collector Patrick W. Joyce learnt as boy in the 1830s in his native village of Glenosheen, Co. Limerick.

Short Jacket and White Trousers

There are innumerable songs of girls dressed as boys and entering the army or going to sea. It happened in real life too. No doubt it’s a common dream of groups of men far from feminine company.

Sovay, the Female Highwayman

Another girl dressed in men’s clothing. Lucy Broadwood found this “an exceedingly favourite ballad with country singers” and every collector of prominence has found versions of it. The good Dorian tune here is akin to the one Sharp published to the words of The Flash Lad (he called it The Robber) and is substantially the same as H. E. D. Hammond’s Sovie tune from Long Burton, Dorset. In a couple of places I’ve added a pinch of spice to the rhythm which seems to me to suit the character of both the song and its heroine.


A vulpine name for a crafty hero. Mr Fox is a disquieting figure in folk tales. The dread uncertainty in many tales is whether he is man or animal. Similar unease broods within this song. It was a favourite ballad in both Ireland and England in the nineteenth century, but it has also been found widely scattered in North America from Arkansas to Nova Scotia. The very explicitly Mixolydian tune I use is but one of several attached to the song.

Farewell Nancy

Treading on the heels of the songs where girls dress as sailors are numerous ones in which they volunteer to accompany their sweethearts on long voyages incognito, only to be told that the life and work is too rough for delicate creatures. Many of the songs are as pretty and as formalised as the popular engravings of the early nineteenth century showing jolly tars sporting with long-lashed maidens. The version here is substantially the one that Sharp noted rather tentatively from a 70 year old Somerset woman with lovely tunes, but an uncertain voice.

Fanny Blair

Cecil Sharp noted this extraordinarily handsome and elusive tune in Somerset from an old singer who made a terrible jumble of the words. Sharp produced a text of his own and other versions have since come to light. The nymphet is a rare figure in our folk song yet Fanny Blair is not alone; there is another in the ballad of Leesome Brand.

The Two Magicians

Not just for centuries, but for thousands of years the fantasy of this song has haunted the sex-dreams of men and, doubtless, women too. It occurs in Hindu scripture when the first man pursued the first woman, she thought to hide by changing into a cow, but he became a bull and so cattle were born... and so on. In the story of Peleus and Thetis she transformed herself several times before yielding to his embrace. In Latin countries this story became a pretty, rather insipid ballad, but in Britain it remained tough and witty. Eventually the ballad dwindled away, but it seemed too good a song to remain unused, so I brushed it up and fitted a tune. Dr Vaughan Williams once said: “The practice of re-writing a folk song is abominable, and I wouldn’t trust anyone to do it except myself.”

The Demon Lover

Samuel Pepys had a version of this ballad in his collection, but it was a poor composition made by some hack poet. Perhaps the doggerel writer made his version on the basis of a ballad already current among folk singers. Or, perhaps, the folk singers took the printed song and in the course of passing it from mouth to mouth over the years they re-shaped it into something of pride, dignity and terror. Whatever, it has come down in far more handsome form than Pepys had it. Generally the Scottish texts are better than the English ones (this one has been filled out by borrowing stanzas from Scottish sets), but none of the Scottish tunes are as good those found in the South and West of England. This tune was noted by H. E. D. Hammond from Mrs Russell of Upway, Dorset, in 1907. Cecil Sharp considered it “one of the finest Dorian airs” he had seen. Dr Vaughan Williams made a splendid choral setting of the opening verses of this ballad, which he called The Lover’s Ghost.

Roll Her Down the Bay

This shanty is primitive in structure, a litany-like one liner, with a chorus on a fine descending slope. Ted Howard, a pillar of the Barry Riggers, a club of oldtime sailing ship men, recorded this for us shortly before his death in 1954. It is for halyards. “Pull on the end of Juliana,” says Ted.

Tamlyn (Young Tambling)

We haven’t all that many fairy ballads and this is by far the finest. It’s fairly venerable; it was already printed on a broadside in 1558, and it wasn’t new then. It seems to be uniquely Scottish, though there are international folk tales that come near its story. It is a long ballad but the story moves swiftly.

The Widow of Westmorland’s Daughter

A version of the high spirited ballad was sent to Prof. Child for inclusion in his great collection. He rejected it seeming to find it offensive (though he never jibbed at including the most blood-boltered recitals of heartlessness and violence).