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Hedy West - Ballads and Songs from the Appalachians (Fellside)

Star rating: 
4

The three Hedy West albums produced by Bill Leader for Topic in the mid-1960s, OLD TIMES AND HARD TIMES (1965), PRETTY SARO AND OTHER APPALACHIAN BALLADS (1966) and BALLADS (1967) are all re-issued here in this special budget-priced two-disc release through Fellside. Fellside's Paul Adams is at pains to point out that his label is not a re-issue label and continues to be proud of the work the label does in order to bring to our ears new and contemporary singers and musicians. But because these particular LPs had such an impact on the young folk enthusiast in the late 1960s, it seemed almost criminal that no one was re-issuing such valuable recordings as these.

To put Hedy's popularity in context, the year that saw the release of the first of these recordings, 1965, saw Hedy play the first ever Cambridge Folk Festival, billed a line above The Watersons, but several lines below the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. Hedy's clear singing voice and distinctive banjo style would become a major influence on the young Martin Simpson, who would go on to record some of the songs included here, such as Beaulampkin, which appeared on his debut album GOLDEN VANITY and Gambling Man, which opens this collection.

The forty-one song collection, which also includes Fair Rosamund, Little Matty Groves and The House Carpenter, together with half a dozen unaccompanied songs including the hilarious My Good Old Man, comes with a 20-page booklet with editorial contributions by Paul Adams and Ken Hunt, with the original sleeve notes and song descriptions, together with one or two photographs including the front cover of the April 1965 edition of Sing magazine. Essential listening.

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky