Seventeen months for an update… sorry! 2021 was busy on various fronts – lots of projects – but I held off posting any news because my ‘web guy’ and good friend, Spike, was looking to move on from the web guy role and I thought, ‘I’ll let the site naturally expire around December and then get someone to build a revamped version…’ Well, December came and went and I continued to be busy – too busy to think about the task of rebuilding the site. And then I noticed it was still there… Turns out that Uncle Spike had been too busy to ‘turn it off’, or something like that! So, we are here for the year…
Among many box-set projects that I’ve been ‘curating’ in the past 17 months, two for Repertoire have been recently released: Ian Carr’s Nucleus Live at the BBC (13CD), with a booklet essay by Roger Farbey, and Stefan Grossman Live at the BBC (4CD), with a booklet essay by Robin Denselow. The most colossal project I’ve ever worked on – a 50th anniversary Horslips 33CD+2DVD+2 Book set More Than You Can Chew, for Snapper’s Madfish imprint, was announced and opened for pre-orders on March 16 this year via a fun event in Dublin. It’s released on July 29. It’s been a great pleasure and thrill to have been involved with it – over 20 hours of unreleased audio and four and a half hours of unreleased film, all (re)mastered by that Wizard of Sound Cormac O’Kane.
The 90-second promo video for the Horslips set can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxtOM_192es
My friend Johnny Cordner’s stunning montage video for the set’s trailer track ‘Sure The Boy Was Green (live 1980) is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJYRu9wmg-k
A promo for another previously unreleased track, ‘One Final Ace & Deuce’, filmed by Mark Case, will debut online in June.
The extremely long-gestating Bert Jansch at the BBC (8CD) for Earth Records will, I’m led to believe, be released towards the end of the year, along with a 4LP vinyl ‘best of’ from the material.
Of many other projects I’m currently working on for Repertoire, I think the first three to see daylight will be: Duffy Power Live at the BBC and other innovations (3CD), spanning 1963–2001, with a booklet by myself and Pete Brown; If Live at the BBC (2CD), a 1970–72 collection by the British jazz-rockers; and Fairport Convention’s fabulous 1976 Rockpalast (German TV) concert as a DVD+CD set. Two further Fairport Convention projects for Repertoire are likely – one being a re-presenting / remastering of their four ‘official bootleg’ cassette-album live releases from the 1980s.
I’m involved in two other colossal projects for Madfish, one of which I can’t speak of yet (a 70s rock band). The other, which I have the very great pleasure of curating, is what looks certain to be a 20CD Martin Carthy at the BBC, spanning 1966–2020 or thereabouts. Folk journo legend Colin Irwin is provisionally on board to write the book(let). I’m tremendously excited about it. Carthy is a significant figure and deserves to be celebrated.
For Cherry Red, I’m, involved in a couple of reunion-era Pentangle projects and a British jazz 1966–72 3CD set. I expect one of the Pentangle sets will be out later this year, and the legendary Jacqui McShee will be contributing the booklet.
I feel that I have one more book and one more album in me. The book, on Tyneside musician and cyclist Big Pete Deuchar, is a work in progress (50,000 words in, but I only get to work on it in stop/start fashion). Happily, the album – featuring a fantastic singer from mid-Ulster and many other friends – is more or less in the can, having been recorded late 2021 and early 2022 at Victor Bronzini-Fulton’s Earthmusic Studio and Cormac O’Kane’s RedBox Studio. It’s been a great adventure. It will see daylight as a very limited-edition CD and (non-limited) digital release, in edited form, later in the year.
I re-purposed my 2010 instrumental ‘Titanium Flag’ to create this response to the horror of Ukraine, ‘Cut the Head Off the Snake’. Protest songs never make a difference but along with giving money to the Red Cross it feels like doing ‘something’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQ0bTyiXFR0
Have I written anything recently that’s in the public sphere? Yes, several things at The Afterword. In January, I interviewed three local musicians from punk, jazz and folk (loosely speaking): Dave McLarnon, Scott Flanigan and Anthony Toner. It was interesting to see where the pro and semi-pro cottage industry artist is these days, in the sunset years of the music business as a viable entity. Dave’s new post-lockdown line-up of Shock Treatment, his 1979–81 Belfast punk band, is sensational. Similarly, Anthony Toner’s splendid new album Emperor – a sort of re-recorded, stripped-down ‘best of’ – is the perfect place to discover his music. Along with Cormac O’Kane (sound and lights), I continue to have fun with Scott Flanigan – being three of four founders (with Karen Smyth, currently ‘on sabbatical’) – every Friday night at Scott’s Jazz Club at Ballyhackamore Working Men’s Club’s second-floor cabaret lounge. It’s become a real destination for both listeners and jazz musicians – very much a tribute to Scott and Cormac’s energy.
Here is the Afterword interview with Dave, Scott and Anthony: https://theafterword.co.uk/colin-h-interviews-scott-flanigan-dave-mclarnon-anthony-toner-an-anthropological-bulletin-from-the-end-times-of-the-music-industry/
I seem to have written four long album reviews for The Afterword in recent months, three concerning living/active musicians.
Yorkshire folk sensation Henry Parker’s second album Lammas Fair: https://theafterword.co.uk/henry-parker-lammas-fair/
His partner (and fellow Yorkshire folk sensation) Katie Spencer’s second album, The Edge of the Land: https://theafterword.co.uk/katie-spencer-the-edge-of-the-land/
Belfast’s uttermost king of rock Brian Houston’s self-titled ‘White Album’ (which he seems curiously keen not to make available anywhere other than at his gigs): https://theafterword.co.uk/brian-houston-the-white-album/
The one vintage release I wrote at length about was the Tubby Hayes Quartet’s The Complete Hopbine ’69: https://theafterword.co.uk/tubby-hayes-quartet-the-complete-hopbine-69/
Most recently, I’ve had the pleasure of reading Volume 2 of Mike Butler’s planned ten-volume Sounding the Century – a biography of legendary British folk sound engineer / producer / label owner Bill Leader and his wider circle of musicians and eccentrics. I was sceptical of the need for ten volumes but having read one (covering 1956–62) I’m signed up for all of them!
And finally, I continue to spend about two thirds of my time doing academic proofreading. If that’s of interest, here’s my (recently refreshed) Belfast Proofreading website: https://www.belfastproofreading.com/