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CD: Crotchet


‘Blow The Wind Southerly’ - Songs of Life and Longing from the north east of England sung by Margarette Ashton.
Bobby Shaftoe – Trad. [1:30]
The Cliffs of Old Tynemouth - Trad. Irish. Words by Dr. Leitch (1838-1881) [3:28]
Sweet Hesleyside - Trad. Instrumental [1:42]
Buy Broom Buzzems – Trad. [1:15]
The Keel Row – Trad [1.42]
The Underhand - James Hill (1811- 1853) Instrumental [1:00]
The Rose of The Tyne (Variations on The Keel Row) Brinley Richards (1817 -1885) Piano Solo [5:57]
Bonny at Mom – Trad. [3:48]
The Cullercoats Fish Lass – Words by Ned Corvan (1829 – 1865) to the tune ‘Lillie’s a Lady’ [1:43]
The Water of Tyne – Trad. [2:48]
The Oak and the Ash – Trad. [2:49]
Derwentwater’s Farewell - Trad. Instrumental [0:59]
The Cottager’s Lullaby – Charles John Vincent (1854-1934) [3:28]
The Steamboat – James Hill (1811- 1853) [1:01]
The Grace Darling Song – Anon [3.48]
Dance ti thy Daddy – Trad. [3.48]
The Gallowgate Lad - Words by Joe Wilson (no dates) to the tune ‘Sally Grey’ [3:08]
‘Til the tide Comes in, Go to the Kye wi’ me - arr. Robert Topliff (1793 – 1868) Instrumental [6:36]
Blow The Wind Southerly – Trad. [2:48]
My Bonny Lad – Trad. [1:47]
Concert Royal: Margarette Ashton (soprano); Peter Harrison (flute); Rachel Gray (cello); and John Treherne (piano)
rec. Whickham Parish Church, September 2006; Evesham Avenue, Whitley Bay September 2008. DDD
DIVINE ART DDV24139 [52:37]
Experience Classicsonline


As the ony son iv a propley - sortificated herrin’ gutter from Cullercoats mesel, like – me Mam wez a dab hand with hor little cleevor - aa’d thowt this disc would bring back memries of sittin on the cracket by hor knee as a bairn ; while aa watched hor filletin’ tripe for me Dad’s tea, ye knaa. Just like that French bloke Proust did wi’ that Madeleine woman in ‘A la récherche du temps perdu’, like.

An’ then man, when I saa the nayem ‘ C. Ernest Catcheside-Warrington’ in the linor noats, whey aa wez positively transported, – just as me Great Great Great Grandad had been ti Australia in days of yore - only more metaphorical, like. Ti this day, aa can still remember Catcheside’s number one hit – ‘cept that we didn’t caal records that them days - ‘O luck at the sowldger’, waftin’ off the wind-up gramophone in the netty of a summer’s evenin’:

‘O, luck at the sowldger,
Luck at his plates o’ meat
As he warks alang the pavement, he tyeks up aal the street.
Wheniver aa’m oot upon the march, ye’ll hear the laddies shoot,
O, luck at the sowldger, diz yer mother knaa yer oot

But nee chance man,‘cos this disc is aal in English, ‘n its linor noats sez this:

Music was an important pastime in Victorian times. A pianoforte in the parlour was an important status symbol and the ability to sing, and play musical instruments were valued social accomplishments. Blow the Wind Southerly is a collection of 14 songs in Victorian parlour settings from the north east of England, interspersed with contemporary instrumental pieces. In preparing the performing scores reference was made to a number of sources including 'A Selection of the most popular Melodies of the Tyne and the Wear' collected by Robert Topliff around 1815, Bruce & Stokoe's 'Northumbrian Minstrelsy' (1882) and C. Ernest Catcheside-Warrington's extensive collection of Tyneside songs first published in 1911. Historic instruments recapture the sound world of the Victorian parlour; violoncello and boxwood flute date from the end of the eighteenth century and the 'square' pianoforte was manufactured by Broadwood in the early 1840’s.’

Noo, that’s aal fine enyuff like, ‘n iv course, by the time aa’d got to the grammer school next ti the brew’ry where they made Newcassel Broon Ale, bit by bit aa gradgelly lorned tarkin English mesel man, and the Geordie wez battored oot of iz –whey, ony a bit like and not that it did iz any harm, mind. But the majorty iv the parlours where me and me marrers sang these songs post-war were oaned by folk with north eastern twangs and if they’d giv’n up tarkin Geordie at work like, they could aal sing in it porfectly. Like as not, like, them posh Victorians wud have done the sayem thing, man.

Mind you, there’s nowt wrang wi’ any o’ the music like – these folks are aall canny players and that Margarette Ashton’s a canny bit singer too, with a bobby dazzler trebley sorta voice sure enyuff. ‘N the boxwood flute n’ square piano are both little belters as wheell, so Concert Royal soonds in varry canny fettle aalthegither.

But a geet big problem for mesel like, is that it’s aall a bit ‘refeened ‘ on account o’ the d’librit selection o’ these songs speshly for a project for school bairns, which is wat the linor noats also sez. And that’s aall canny too but for me porsonally like, it’s a bit like Inspector Morse gannin on like Sergeant Lewis like, or a hacky mucky navvy wi’ nee clarts on his boots. The English will like it fine, but a Geordie singin’ like this doon the boozer wud get hoyed oot the winder, lickety-split.


This is a perfectly pleasant recording of attractive music sung very prettily by Margarette Ashton and played nicely by the instrumentalists. The only slight problem with it - for the thoroughbred Geordie at least - is that the songs really need broader north-eastern pronunciation, as they sound somewhat tamer and less meaningful, when sung in parlour style English, than they might do in the authentic language. ‘Buy Broom Buzzems’ (Track 4) is a case in point:

(Verse) If you want a buzzem (besom) for to sweep your hoose
Come to me my hinneys, you can have your choose
(Chorus) Buy broom buzzems, buy them when they’re new
Fine heather bred’uns better never grew

(Verse) It’s buzzems for a penny, rangers for a slack
If you will not buy I’ll tie them on my back

(Verse) If I had a horse I would have a cart
If I had a wife she would take my part

(Verse) If I had a wife I care not what she be
If she’s but a woman, that’s enough for me

(Verse) If she likes a droppie, her and I’d agree
If she doesn’t like it that’s the more for me.

But some compromises are necessary of course, because the programme is part of a project aimed at schoolchildren - and the tunes to the songs are often very fine – as anyone familiar with Kathleen Ferrier’s own ‘Blow the wind southerly’ would surely agree. The lullaby ‘Bonny at morn’ for example will be a real find for anyone new to it. As an introduction to the traditional music of the North East, the disc is well worth a hearing, but as a taster for the North Eastern spirit as whole it lacks a certain ‘je ne sais quoi.’

Jackie Milburn III

PS, like

A key ingredient in the Geordie language – and I insist that it isn’t merely a dialect – is the transposition of the vowel sounds used in English, stemming, as some people think, from the influences brought to Northumberland by the Vikings. So here is an old Geordie joke from the times when coal mining was a major industry:

A pitman is carried to the doctor complaining of bad back ache.

‘Well, Geordie,’ says the doctor, ‘I can see that you’re in some pain, but can you still walk?’

‘Work?’ says Geordie, ‘Aa cannit even wark nivver mind work !’

see also review by Bill Kenny


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