Field recordings from the Meredith collection in the National Library of Australia
National Library of Australia CD1 & CD 2
Whilst reading Michael Brown's review of the Australian song book, Verandah Music, I was struck by his first two paragraphs:
Since discovering the National Library of Australia's Sharing the Harvest about a year ago, that double CD has been a particular favourite of mine. Containing songs and instrumental tunes (99 tracks in total) from John Meredith's 1950s field recordings, this is an excellent selection of the old bush-style singing, recitations, British ballads and dance music (and it's still available through the National Library of Australia). Personally, it presented an opportunity to hear the classics of Australian traditional folk music - for which the original 1950s vinyl releases and later cassette compilations are now all but unobtainable - and also a chance to hear antipodean singing accents in English close to that of my native New Zealand (from which no such releases of field recordings have emerged). The magnificent performances of Edwin Goodwin, Sally Sloane, and Duke Tritton were all there, plus good surprises, like Ernie Sibley's bizarre recitation Snakes.Undeterred by this problem - and lured by the prospect of songs from Sally Sloane - I checked out the National Library of Australia's website at: www.nla.gov.au to see what I could find out. What I discovered was that I could buy the double CDs with a credit card for $24.14 Australian - so I did. What I didn't know was - even approximately - what $24.14 Australian equalled in Sterling.
One of the small problems of Sharing the Harvest though, was its lack of background information about the performers and the songs in the liner notes. This was solvable by consulting the 1967 book Folk Songs of Australia and the Men and Women Who Sang Them (John Meredith and Hugh Anderson), which documented the life stories and music of all the performers. But would everyone who bought the CDs know this, or even be able to get a copy of this out-of-print volume?
You may be surprised to hear that the discs arrived about one week later, and that when my credit card statement subsequently turned up, I found that I had got a double CD containing 99 tracks of hitherto virtually unobtainable traditional singing and music (much of which is of admirably high quality), sent airmail from the other side of the world, for the sum of just £10.16 !!!
What you get for your tenner is as follows:
Jack Luscombe: Sam Griffiths / Ina Popplewell: Take Me Down The Harbour / Jack Lee: The Backblock Shearer - I'Ve Roped The Green-Eyed Stag / Colin Lee: Varsovienna / Mary Byrnes: Whisky In The Jar / Tom Byrnes: A Starry Night For A Ramble - The Hut That's Upside Down / Alec Fuller: Five Bob To Four / Harry Ascough: Jacky Me Lad / Edwin Goodwin: Dennis 0'Reilly - Bold Jack Donahoe - Sixteen Thousand Mile From Home - Wild Rover / Arthur Buchanan: The Barley Mow - Waltzing Matilda Young Les Darcy / Joe Cashmere: Polka-Mazurka - Varsovienna - Orphan Boy Waltz - The Sydney Flash - Step-Dance (Jig) - The Old Jig-Jog - Caledonia - Jog Along Till Shearing - Wild Rover No More / Madge Laver: Paddy Sheahan / The Dying Stockman / Violet Skuthorpe: The Stockman's Last Bed - The Whip And The Spur / Gladys Scrivener: Where's Your License / Mrs Fraser_Paterson: The Old Bark Hut / Jim Bourke: Mazlim's Mill / Mrs Parker And Mrs Sprike: The Bullockies Ball / Bill Foster: The Dying Bagman / Jamie Carlin: The Little Fish / Ron Manton: The Banks Of The Condamine - Humping Old Bluey / Jack Wright: Jimmy Sago Jackeroo / Sid Heather: The Wonderful Crocodile / Cyril Ticehurst: Rub-A-Dub-A-Dub / Bill Hughies: Shearerman - Little Bit Of Sugar - Machine-Guns They Rattle - Down Fell The Old Nag / Alec Hood: The Black Velvet Band - The Jockey's Lament / Delys Cross: Jackie Jackie / John Linigen: Alec Robertson - Jack Dowling - Inky Dinky Derby Town / Herb Gimbert: Herb's Jig
Sally Sloane: The Rambling Sailor - Varsovienna - Coming Down The Mountain - Jack's Waltz - Annie Shaw's Tune - Mum's Mazurka - John Doolan - The Springtime It Brings On The Shearing - Christ Was Born In Bethlehem - The Warrego Lament - The Black Velvet Band - The Knickerbocker Line - My Son Ted / Noah Warren: Australia's On The Wallaby / Margaret Stapleton: A Bushman's Song / Tom Blackman: Jig - Navvy On The Line - The Mudgee Schottische - Varsovienna / George Davis: Sailor's Hornpipe - Spookendyke's Waltz - The Mudgee Schottische - The Mudgee Waltz - The Heel And Toe Polka / Tom Brennan: On The Steps Of The Dole Office Door / Fred Holland: The Mudgee Waltz - The Mudgee Schottische / Keith And Vince Holland: Varsovienna - Polka-Mazurka / Vince Holland: - Harvest Moon Schottische / Ernie Sibley: Snakes / Lindsay Carr: The First Set (Lead-Up Tune) - Why Did She Leave Killarney - Father Is A Dutchman / Mick And Merle Pilley: Varsovienna - I'Ve Got A Saviour That's Mighty To Keep / Jim Gibbons: My Name Is Jimmy Gamble - Clancy's Prayer - In 1874 The Castlereagh Began To Roar / Bill Coughlin: The Union Boy / Tom Tattersall: On The Banks Of The Old Omaha / Herb Tattersall: Oh, Bedad Then Says I - Stringybark / 'Cat' McManus: The Maiden's Prayer / 'Duke' Tritton: The Shores of Botany Bay - The Great Northern Line
So this isn't really a review of Sharing the Harvest, but a simple statement that you must be barking mad if you don't go to the Library's website immediately and get yourself a copy!
Rod Stradling - 18.4.04