This is the first article in a series where Music is Good contributors discuss the albums that have most influenced them musically. They will include some favourites that they play regularly now, but other choices will be music that they rarely listen to anymore, but had a major influence on their musical development at the time.
My selection begins with the Beatles:
The Beatles inevitably had a major influence upon me musically as I was teenager in their early days. For me this is a turning point album moving from the early fairly straight forward recordings that could be replicated on stage to the later studio based albums like Sgt Pepper. To some extent it reflects my growing up as a person alongside the Beatles ‘growing up’ musically. It is still an album I play regularly with many standout tracks for me such as “Dr Robert” and “Got to Get You Into My Life”.
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English Folk Music and Christmas carols are closely linked together. Carols like The Holy and the Ivy are many centuries old, based on an oral tradition, just like a number of folk songs. Many of these carols actually have elements of paganism and religiosity mixed together, just like many folk songs. The Holy and the Ivy is a good example of this. If you want to learn more about this carol, go to the Wiki article about it.
Right up until the end of the last century, still continuing in some areas, carol singers used to go around houses and pubs in the UK singing sometimes playing instruments, collecting money, usually for charities. Nowadays the most likely carol singers are actually Salvation Army bands in shopping centres. But a number of contemporary English folk artists have continued the tradition of Christmas and Winter songs with their recordings.
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An on-going musical interest of mine is contemporary English Folk Music. I first became interested over 40 years ago in the late 1960s when I was a student. The late 1960s was a period of renaissance for folk music in the UK. My college had a Folk Club with another club weekly in a local pub. It was whilst he was on his way to play for us that Paul Simon wrote Homeward Bound when he was sitting on the Widnes station platform. There has been another renaissance in recent years led by a number of bands and solo artists playing in a more contemporary approach while bringing in music from other genres. This is the first of a monthly series of articles to introduce the key artists and albums of the current English folk music scene.
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I’ve been waiting for this album for 45 years, virtually three quarters of my life, but it is still not the finished article! Back in the mid 1960s, The Beatles reigned supreme in the world of popular music. But if any group (as we then called them) came close to taking that crown, it was the Beach Boys. The Beach Boys’ previous album to the Smile sessions was Pet Sounds, Brian Wilson’s answer to Rubber Soul and Revolver. The Beatles had raised the bar with their albums; until then, LPs were usually collections of singles, b-sides and fillers. But a few months after the release of Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper raised the bar even higher for Wilson. He wanted something even grander, and Smile was to be his answer. As he describes it in the notes published for this new release, “Each Beatles album had sounded different. The way I saw it we were in a race, a production race.”
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