James Yorkston & The Big Eyes Family Players | WIG236 | Released: 09/08/09
The idea behind this album of folk songs first surfaced around 2000 / 2001. Fence Records still had an actual on-street record shop at the time (as opposed to their on-line presence today), where they were selling my first CDR album – J. Wright Presents, alongside a whole host of other bits and bobs by established and un-established alike. Amongst those un-established, artists such as King Creosote & Lone Pigeon had more than one CDR to their name – in fact King Creosote had around a dozen – so my paltry singular effort seemed rather lonesome. The solution? To record an album of traditional songs, to sell as a companion piece to my own work.
So I set to it, learning songs from cassettes and CDs by Anne Briggs and Shirley Collins, Jean Ritchie and Nic Jones, Eliza Carthy & Nancy Kerr; recording them to various states of success and undress. I also tackled a few Lal Waterson tracks – "Scarecrow & Fine Horseman". Lal’s songwriting of course I revisited in later years.
Alas, it ended up unreleased – Domino Records, in a rare lapse of good judgement, decided to offer me a record contract and the folk album got put on the back burner. Being miserly, the songs I’d recorded already, or had marked for that original traditional album, were mostly put on subsequent albums or EPs. So, this album here consists of 11 “new” tunes. New as in – chosen and recorded especially for this project. But they’re not new songs. No way.
I picked up The Big Eyes Family Players somewhere along the way. Any touring musician will tell you – CDs from punters and fellow musicians seem to end up in your pockets at the end of every gig. At the end of every tour there’s a least half a dozen CDs, CDrs, etc. One such CD I discovered was by Big Eyes; and lo-and-behold, I loved what I heard. I contacted the main guy, James Green, and we’ve been in touch ever since. When I decided to resurrect this traditional album idea, he was an obvious choice of partner in crime. I didn’t want to work with my usual band The Athletes, but there was no slur there, they’ll be back on board for the next James Yorkston album proper – I just fancied trying something different.
Most of these songs were learned from recordings from the 1960s folk revival, a fair few from Anne Briggs – but that’s quite fitting, as it was her wonderful singing that originally rekindled my thoughts on traditional music, after a well-spent youth making as much noise as I could.
This CD is discounted as part of our Domino Mart Christmas offers. Check out the full campaign.
The vinyl for this album comes with digital downloads of all tracks. A coupon with a download code is inserted in the packaging.