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Blue Murder: No One Stands Alone

Blue Murder: No One Stands Alone (Topic TSCD537)

No One Stands Alone
Blue Murder

Topic Records TSCD537 (CD, UK, 4 June 2002)

Recorded at Woodman Recording Studios, Halifax;
Mixed at Panda Sound, Robin Hood’s Bay;
Engineered and mixed by Oliver Knight;
Produced by Blue Murder and Tony Engle;
Mastered by Denis Blackham at Country Masters;
Photography and design by John Haxby

Musicians (from left to right on the CD cover)

Blue Murder are Waterson:Carthy, Mike Waterson, Coope, Boyes & Simpson

Barry Coope: vocals;
Jim Boyes: vocals;
Martin Carthy: vocals, guitar;
Eliza Carthy: vocals;
Norma Waterson: vocals;
Lester Simpson: vocals, accordion [8];
Mike Waterson: vocals


  1. No One Stands Alone (4.49)
  2. Gown of Green (Roud 1085; G/D 4:907) (2.50)
  3. Rubber Band (3.00)
  4. Blue Mountain (Roud 10861) (5.37)
  5. Standing on the Promises of God (3.29)
  6. The Banks of Sweet Primroses (Roud 586; G/D 8:1841) (3.26)
  7. The Land Where You Never Grow Old (Roud 10621) (4.25)
  8. Three Day Millionaire (2.13)
  9. Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy (Roud 165) (3.38)
  10. Bully in the Alley (Roud 8287) (3.26)
  11. Mole in a Hole (4.06)
  12. Stars in My Crown (Roud 22423) (3.04)
  13. The Goodnight Song (4.24)

All tracks trad. arr. Blue Murder except
Track 1 Mosie Lister;
Tracks 3, 8, 11 Mike Waterson;
Track 4 Judge Fred Keller (ca. 1918);
Track 5 Russell Kelso Carter;
Track 6 James C. Moore (1914);
Track 10 trad. adapt. Lester Simpson arr. Blue Murder;
Track 12 words Eliza E. Hewitt, music John R. Sweney;
Track 13 Jim Boyes

Sleeve Notes: A Blue Murder History

Dave and Heather Brady and Jim Boyes of Swan Arcade were taking in the late afternoon sun on the glamorous front patio of The Magnolia Guest House during Whitby Folk Week in August 1986 when Norma and Lal Waterson arrived at the gate with a request they couldn’t refuse. There was, Norma explained, a charity concert near Robin Hood’s Bay for the benefit of the local school. Amongst those asked to perform were various Watersons, Swan Arcade and Peter and Anthea Bellamy. Lal and Norma suggested that it might be a good idea to rehearse (!) a couple of songs all together—it might be fun. It was great fun (in fact early Blue Murder rehearsals were some of the best parties that the participants can vaguely remember.) Following this informal get together, the ensemble—probably introduced as The Boggle Hole Chorale—were asked to do a surprise spot at the festival’s final ceilidh.

News of this event spread further south and the following year Ian Anderson invited The Watersons and Swan Arcade to appear at Bracknell Festival separately and together. Obviously this entailed further rehearsals (lots more fun) and the need for a more explicable name for the joint entity. After a particular lengthy rehearsal, Martin came up with Blue Murder. The line up at this stage was Martin Carthy, Norma, Lal, Rachel and Mike Waterson, Heather Brady, Dave Brady and Jim Boyes.

After a special preview at Wath upon Dearne in South Yorkshire, over the following year and a half, Blue Murder appeared in concert at The Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank and at festivals from the Scottish Borders to the Brossella Festivals in Brussels. A very live demo was put together from their Wath concert performance and some tracks direct from sound desks lurk in Festival organisers’ archives, but the original band never made any formal recordings.

Blue Murder II, however, only existed as a recording band. By special request of David Suff in 1994, Blue Murder performed I Bid You Goodnight for Hokey Pokey’s Joseph Spence album Out on the Rolling Sea. By this time, the membership had undergone quite an alteration. Swan Arcade had split up, and Heather Brady was unavailable on the day of recording. So Barry Coope and Lester Simpson of Coope Boyes & Simpson replaced the two Swans and changes in The Watersons saw Eliza Carthy taking over from Rachel Waterson.

No other work was planned and—following Lal Waterson’s death—no further performances seemed likely. Then a phone call, out of the blue, from Chris Wade of Beverley Festivals brought the remaining band members together briefly for a Yorkshire Evening in 2000. They really enjoyed themselves. So when an invitation to the following year’s Sidmouth Festival arrived, they were delighted. Rehearsals and an afternoon concert to a packed Sidmouth Arena proved once again that Blue Murder was about the sheer enjoyment of singing together in harmony—and that more concerts and an album might be even more fun.


The seven piece group Blue Murder, made up of Waterson:Carthy, Coope, Boyes and Simpson and Mike Waterson, has been described as “Harmony Heaven” and one listen is enough to explain why - seven of the greatest English folk voices performing together with passion and spirit. The repertoire ranges between great traditional standards, selected compositions and original songs by some of the band members. Whilst much of the album is the full glory of the seven voices, about half of the tracks have the added benefit of Martin Carthy’s understated but impeccable guitar work.

“A glorious rush of perfectly pitched and counterbalanced vocals that offers up a spellbinding celebration of the human voice and makes this a firm contender for Folk Album of the Year”
— Netrhythms

“… singing and harmonising … top of the range … selection of songs … spot on, but more than that, there is a startling chemistry about them. There is a real mood of spontaneity and the idea of a group united by … a mutual love of the songs they are performing. Stand-out tracks include the rousing Bully in the Alley, the sentimental Land Where You Never Grow Old, and the devotional Standing on the Promises of God. Choruses made in heaven all. It is an album of qualities and values. Timeless.”
— fRoots

See also the Mudcat Café thread Review: Blue Murder.

Further Recordings

Live at Bracknell Festival on 11 July 1987

  1. ANC Song (Azicatal)
    released on The Carthy Chronicles (2001)
  2. Mole in a Hole [Mike Waterson]
    released on Mighty River of Song (2004)

Live at Oakengates Town Hall, 1987

This live recording from Oakengates Town Hall in probably late 1987 was broadcast on BBC Radio 2 “Folk on Two”, probably also late 1987. Thanks to Kevin Boyd you can listen to it on YouTube.

  1. Black Seam [Sting]
  2. The White Cockade (Roud 191; TYG 2)
  3. The Derby Ram (Roud 126; G/D 3:645; TYG 59)
  4. Down in the Valley to Pray (Roud 4928)
  5. The Land Where You Never Grow Old (Roud 10621)
  6. When We Go Rolling Home [John Tams]
  7. Mole in a Hole [Mike Waterson]

Blue Murder II, 1994

  1. I Bid You Goodnight (Roud 15632)
    recorded for Out on the Rolling Sea (1994), but also included on Mighty River of Song (2004)

Blue Murder III, 2002

  1. Bright Phoebus [Mike Waterson]
    recorded for Shining Bright—The Songs of Lal and Mike Waterson (2002);
    an alternative recording was included on Mighty River of Song (2004)