30   Rock Around The World October 1977

New Folks

by Ken Roseman

Import Records of New Jersey has just issued Son of Morris On, another album of electric/contemporary arrangements of Morris dance tunes put together by Ashley Hutchings. Joining him on the record are most of the Albion Dance Band and folk star Martin Carthy. This is the first album of electric music Carthy’s been involved with in some time and he still sounds great with electric backing.

The Washington D.C. area, home base for yours truly, has become quite a center for folk music, with many clubs featuring folk and bluegrass acts. One of the stalwart bands of the scene is The Fast Flying Vestibule, which specializes in old time music, bluegrass, and Irish folk tunes. They’ve just released a fine first effort, Union Station (Rolling Donut RD 10000) that is well worth searching out.

Just a little bit,of space left to say that the Chieftains Live! (Island ILPS 95011 shows a somewhat looser band than appears on their strictly arranged studio Ips and that Bert Jansch’s Rare Conundrum (Charisma U.K.) is a welcome return to a more British sound for the guitar master.

is the rebirth of Fairport Convention. After the not very well received Gottle 0′ Geer, some felt that the illustrious pioneer band of British electric-folk had come to an end. Glad to report it didn’t happen. Dave Swarbrick and Dave Pegg decided to keep the grand old name going, and to help them Simon Nicol, an original Fairporter, returned to the fold, after being very active in the British electric-folk scene for the past several years. Bruce Rowland, the group’s drummer of only two years, elected to stay on as well.

The Bonny Bunch of Roses (Vertigo U.K.) is the new line-up’s vinyl debut, and a fine one it is. It contains the typical Fairport assortment of traditional folk songs, fiddle tunes and songs by contemporary writers including the Fairports themselves.

Long time fans of the group will be glad to know that Swarbrick’s fiddling has lost none of its fire and that the group’s classic sound remains basicly the same. However, a nice change is the addition of close harmony singing, made possible by the fact that Swarbrick, Pegg, and Nicol are all able vocalists.

perhaps because he’s more interested in exposing his audience (and himself) to these other kinds of music.

Two years elapsed before the next Cooder disc appeared, and it proved that Cooder is always looking for new influences. He became interested in “Tex-Mex” and traditional Hawaiian music, looked up the leading players in those fields, jammed with them and recorded with them. Some of them also appeared in a traveling’ band Cooder assembled called the Chicken Skin Revue, after the title of that last studio album, Chicken Skin Music. That group got such great response on the road that a live album was issued recently called Show Time„

It’s likely that Cooder’s main influence on the music scene will have been the popularization of these different sorts of ethnic music. It is to his credit that when he attempts them, he does the music as faithfully to the traditional style as possible, while still injecting a small bit of his own personality.


The biggest news in folk today other than Martin Carthy rejoining Steeleye Span

Ry Cooder is attempting a one-man revival of a good bit of America’s music heritage. Everything from jug band tunes and Woody Guthrie songs to old country ballads and “Tex-Mex” is a part of his repertoire.

A native of Los Angeles, Cooder played in a band with fellow revivalist Taj Mahal called The Rising Sons. He also appeared on the Rolling Stones’ Jamming with Edward, played with Captain Beefheart for a short time, and has done numerous sessions with other folks as well.

He signed a contract with Reprise as a solo artist and his first album, Ry Cooder was released in 1972. This effort was neither as sophisticated or eclectic as his later albums were to be and was heavily blues based. Later that same year Into The Purple Valley was issued, and that was the album where Ry started to demonstrate his interest in different kinds of traditional American music.

In addition to his revival of musical Americana, Cooder also achieved fame for his bottleneck guitar work and was probably responsible for the increased popularity that style has received. He used it in a rather intriguing way on one track in his third album, Boomer’s Story. The arrangement is reminiscent of what Pentangle might have sounded like had they been more involved with blues. It’s a jazzy cut with a slight hint of the British folk sound.

That album captured a distinctive American electric folk sound with its blend of old-time country and blues influences; a sound as strictly American as that of Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention is British.

One cut on Boomer’s Story did contain a hint of what was to come: “Maria Elena” starts off simply as an acoustic guitar piece but later adds piano and strings along with a Latin rhythm.

1974 saw the release of Paradise and Lunch and some limited touring by Cooder as a solo act. Earlier, he had toured with a band, but what came out was basically blues, without the studio refinements and flavourings. The 1p was a marked change from the preceeding ones, as it demonstrated Cooder’s interest in gospel for the first time and also utilized a full vocal chorus along with more complex arrangements.

Incidentally, rarely has Cooder included an original tune in any of his albums,