Radio Ballads

Way back in March, I went to hear Peggy Seeger at the Flatpack Festival, talking about the radio ballads. She was wonderful, and emphatic (Peggy is very formidable when she's emphatic) that the way to listen to them was in order. Being a retired person with leisure I went home, ordered the full set, read the book about making them, and then listened to all eight CDs, in order.

She's right. It's a fascinating development, watching these three very different people (Charles Parker, Ewan Maccoll and Seeger herself) develop as individuals and as a team, finding out how they can combine actuality (tape recorded interviews with people, not actors speaking their lines - revolutionary at the time) with folksong and music ( a wide range of instruments, more jazz then folk). Sometimes, as with the ones on teenagers and polio, the actuality is brilliant and the songs don't add much; sometimes - herrign fishing,or travellers - the subject matter produces brilliant songs that sound as if they've been around for ever.

And one of the great themes through the development is Seeger herself, starting as the girl who does the orchestration, but ten getting involved in the interviewing, and the actual scripting of the programmes. I'm so glad I did this. Strongly recommended.