Breath day 3: the folk connection

Thanks very much for following my Breath series. Today we have the last four songs, all with a connection to the British folk scene.

Ye Banks And Braes

This is a cover of a Robert Burns song in the guitar style of John Martyn. I come from the same town as Burns so he’s been part of my consciousness from an early age. His poetry was drummed into me at school and I’m grateful for that. I saw John Martyn several times in his Island Records heyday performing with bassist Danny Thompson. This cover features my friend Daniel Davis, who produced it, on trumpet.

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Zoo Blues

I’ve never been a fanatic fan of anyone as much as the Incredible String Band. They either got you that way or you hated them. They produced some amazingly poignant and beautiful music … and silly stuff like this. It was written by Robin Williamson, but after he had left the ISB, filling up time on the road by making up daft animal puns. I couldn’t resist adding a few of my own.

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Spirit Beautiful

Another Incredible String Band cover, this time of a Mike Heron song. I did this when a fanzine in the 1990s was beginning to spark a revival of interest in the ISB, who split in 1974. I contributed two songs to tribute albums. This is the better one, I think, and features on percussion Dave Haswell, who was in Mike’s band at the time.

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A Leaf Must Fall

Clive Palmer was one of the founding members of the ISB, who left when they appeared to be heading for early success, a pattern he’d repeat with other bands in his long career. For one of his bands, the Famous Jug Band, he wrote this very un-jug-band song. It’s one of loveliest melodies I’ve ever heard and I covered it on my album All The Time In Heaven.

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Incredible String Band-related articles on my site