MAKING MUSIC - CDs

Alongside my 'work' for Forest Tracks I have digitally restored/edited and mastered several CDs that have been issued through Topic Records, Veteran and Musical Traditions.

The most important of which are the 20 CD series "The Voice of the People" from Topic Records. Featuring over 500 tracks drawn from Topic's important archive of field recordings and recordings made by private individuals and collectors. It was the latter that I was involved in.

This huge project used tracks from leading collectors and recordists such as Bill Leader, Tony Engle, Mike Yates, John Howson, Keith Summers, Peter Kennedy, Alan Lomax, Mervyn Plunkett, Reg Hall, Cecil Sharp House etc. etc. So I am especially pleased to have some of my own field recordings – Ruth Askew and George Privett (melodeon and spoons); Jimmy Dixon and Ron Whatmore (mouth-organs); Sam Bond (song and mouth-organ tunes) – included in this landmark series of CDs.

In overall charge of The Voice of the People series was Tony Engle, MD of Topic Records and Reg Hall, a stalwart of the traditional music scene for the past forty years.

Reg used to regularly visit me with a box of reels of tape –some of which may not have been listened to since they were originally recorded – and we would sit in the back room of my cottage and transfer tracks from the reels of tape onto my Apple Mac computer.
Then, after much discussion with Reg, I would digitally restore/edit the tracks to CD quality saving them to master DAT tapes. Selections were made from these DATs in the studio and then 'finalised' before being issued on CD.
Paul Marsh and Reg Hall, 1998

Voice Of The People is the most important and rewarding series of British folk song recordings ever issued.' FOLK ROOTS

'This is truly a landmark collection. Quite simply, awesome.' THE TIMES

' The single most important event in the world of traditional and roots music.'
SONGLINES MAGAZINE

Another Topic CD I am especially pleased and proud to have worked on is the double CD of Harry Cox. 'The Bonny Labouring Boy' TSCD 512D

Always very interested in Harry and his Norfolk songs I was delighted to have the opportunity to work on this project with Reg Hall and Steve Roud. 'A dream come true'. Steve provided the references and 'Roud' numbers for the songs and Reg oversaw the project.

I spent around eight years gathering all known recordings of Harry, mainly unpublished, and ended up with some 800 individual tracks – some of which were repeats – which eventually we pared down to the double CD.
I also wrote the biography in the 48 page booklet profiling Harry's life after meeting Harry's family and many of the people/collectors who visited him at his cottage in Catfield, Norfolk.

Harry Cox - The Bonny Labouring Boy TSCD512D

I must stress that Harry Cox: The Bonny Labouring Boy is a highly important issue for the folk-world. Indeed, it may well turn out to be one of the most important sets ever to have been issued.
MIKE YATES. MUSICAL TRADITIONS REVIEW. 1.12.00

Back in 1998 I did the transfers/editing and mastered the first of Musical Traditions CD issues, Bob Hart of Snape, Suffolk. I had the knowledge and the equipment and better than that was interested in the project. I was also prepared to do the work for nothing, or for expenses. These recordings having little or no commercial potential.

At that time domestic CD burning and digital audio restoration was in its infancy – now almost every computer has a CD burner as standard!

This double CD was the beginning of what has become a very important series of CDs and cassettes "bringing music which might never achieve commercial publication to the small audience that values it".

Rod Stradling has since produced and issued many excellent CDs of singers and musicians from the British Isles and beyond.

Bob Hart - A Broadside MT CD 301-2

I also mastered and produced the first of the Helions Bumpstead Gramophone Company's 'Voice of Suffolk' CDs for my good friend Neil Lanham.

The Butley Oyster (NLCD3) , issued in 1999, featured many of Neil's field recordings of singers and musicians from the tradition, that he recorded in the pubs and cottages of rural Suffolk in the late 1950s/1960s.

Neil has since issued a further CDs, including several doubles, from his archive of recordings. If you would like further details on this important series of recordings check out Neil's website: Traditions of Suffolk

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