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Brass Monkey: Sound & Rumour

Brass Monkey: Sound & Rumour (Topic TSCD501)

Sound & Rumour
Brass Monkey

Topic Records TSCD501 (CD, UK, 1998)


Martin Carthy: vocals [1, 4, 8b, 9, 11a], guitar, mandolin;
John Kirkpatrick: vocals [1, 3, 7, 9, 12], Anglo concertina, button accordion, single-row melodeon;
Howard Evans: trumpet;
Richard Cheetham: trombone;
Martin Brinsford: percussion and mouth-organ [He’s playing the sax in the photo.]


  1. The Flash Lad (Roud 30101) (2.52)
  2. Morris Tune / The Rose / Trunkles tunes (5.44)
  3. An Acre of Land (Roud 21093; TYG 23) (3.45)
  4. Old Horse (Roud 513) (4.08)
  5. The Heroes of St Valéry tune (4.20)
  6. The Charming Maid tune (3.02)
  7. The Roving Journeyman (Roud 360; G/D 7:1397) (4.37)
  8. Rodney tune / When I Was Young (Roud 2593) / The Quaker tune (4.05)
  9. The Old Virginia Lowlands (Roud 122; Child 286; G/D 1:37) (6.53)
  10. Auretti’s Dutch Skipper / An Adventure at Margate / The Spirit of the Dance tunes (5.17)
  11. Soldier, Soldier (Roud 489) / The Flowers of Edinburgh tune (3.50)
  12. The Rambling Comber (Roud 1473) / (4.31)
  13. Betty Fitchett’s Wedding / The German Schottische tunes (4.00)

All tracks trad. arr. Carthy / Kirkpatrick / Evans / Cheetham / Brinsford except
Track 5 Pipe Major Donald MacLean
Track 13a Jimmy Shand snr., H. Stewart

Martin Carthy’s notes

The Ned Fielding who shows up in the The Flash Lad is the same man who, as Henry Fielding, was, and is, loved for his novels. But, as much as he was loved by readers, so was he hated by those who came in contact with what became known as his Gang, who were organised by him as an early police force in London - and a brutal bunch they were.

Brass Monkey: Sound & Rumour The songs and tunes on this CD come, mostly, from printed sources and two of them from recordings. They are The Roving Journeyman, which John learned from the Topic recording of the gypsy family, The Willetts, and Soldier, Soldier, which I learned from the Columbia World Series recording of the great sean-nós singer from Connemara, Colm Keane. Of the two sea songs, Old Horse (with extra verses from the totally unrelated Poor Old Horse), comes from the collection trawled from dozens of whalermen’s personal logs by Gale Huntington and called Songs the Whalemen Sang, while The Old Virginia Lowlands is from one of Stan Hugill’s books. It’s a version of The Golden Vanity from Stan’s family, and must be one of the few versions which is not just a historical curiosity, but a real live, feet-on-the-ground story of real betrayal of real people. An Acre of Land has the sort of archaic tune, and The Rambling Comber the sort of loping 5/4 tune that was by no means uncommon among country singers at the turn of the century - but not so common now (except with people like us).

The Morris tunes run the gamut, as Morris tunes deceptively do, from the elegance of The Rose from Fieldtown, to the stomp of Headington and Bampton with Rodney, The Quaker and The Flowers of Edinburgh, to the set of Trunkles from Wheatley, whose apparent nod to Chu Chin Chow is entirely in your mind. Betty Fitchett’s Wedding comes from the Camborne melodeon player, Bob Rundle, and The German Schottische from the bottomless pit that is John’s repertoire, which also includes some corkers from the 18th century like Charming Maid and the medley which includes Auretti’s Dutch Skipper.

The Heroes of St Valéry is a retreat march commemorating events which took place in 1940. During the invasion of northern France, by the Allied Expeditionary Force, the 51st Highland Division were at St Valéry-en-Caux, near Dieppe, where, taken completely by surprise by the speed of the Nazi advance, as was the entire AEF, they were captured intact, marched to the east, and spent the war in POW camps. In one of these, Pipe Major Donald MacLean of the Seaforth Highlanders wrote this tune. I continue to be amazed and moved by the breadth and depth of music which continues to flow from an instrument which has a range of just nine notes - the highland bagpipes.

I think the whole band felt that, when we stopped playing in 1987, we still had plenty of life left in us and that, when we played the Sidmouth Festival eight years later, it felt as though we’d never been away, or at worst, we’d been in a state of suspended animation. Or cryogenically frozen.

Martin Carthy, August 1998