FTX-039 - OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
FOLK BLUES WITH THE WILD CATS
A remarkable recording by two Welsh musicians: Ian Thomas, singer-songwriter,
whose songs evolve out of the guitar, and Brian Roberts who plays "mouth harp"
(harmonica) & "googa" (jews harp) both as blues accomp and solo. Like that
of the Australian aboriginal,"didgeridoo", the googa produces a remarkable sound
and Brian develops it with a unique style that is much in demand.
1. THE SIGNS ON THE WALL - Ian - 3'09"
2. ONE-WAY STREET-GIRL - Ian - 2'57"
3. THE HEIGHTS OF ALMA - Traditional: Ian & Brian - 3'17"
4. WILD CAT BLUES - Solo harmonica by Brian - 2'43"
5. FAILING TO COMPREHEND - Ian 3'53"
6. EXPLORING RHYTHM - Jew's harp solo by Brian - 9'19"
7. THE WISH - Ian - 3'11"
8. OFF THE BEATEN TRACK - Composed & sung by Ian - 3'10"
9. ODE TO THE COMMON MAN - Ian - 2'50"
10. THE HANGMAN & THE PAPIST - Ian with harp & harmonica - 4'13"
11. DOCKYARD BLUES - Harp, harmonica & guitar - 4'28"
12. THE LIVING DEAD - Ian - 4'07"
13. THE JABBERWOCKY - Ian with harp & harmonica - 3'49"
14. RHYTHMS IN SPACE - Jew's harp solo by Brian - 9'13"
Recorded by Peter Kennedy, Soundpost Studios, Gloucester, September 1986. Edited
by Peter Kennedy & first published by Folktrax 1986.
IAN THOMAS, was born at Maerdy, in the Rhondda, of a musical family. He started
his song-making at 17, with most of his songs evolving out of guitar modes,
with only a few starting life as poems. He has played in a number of Rhondda
bands including FOWLER THAN THOU, and the song, THE LIVING DEAD, by P.Coshell,
was made up, at a practice session, about all the people in the local. Ian first
met Brian 5 years ago, in the back room of "The Rhondda"pub at Ferndale.
BRIAN ROBERTS, "Bez", was born at Treherbert, which is on the other side of
the valley to Ian. He wanted to play guitar, but the neighbours objected. His
grandmother had played ukelele, and had 17 children.He left home at16, roughed
it on Brighton beach, and bought a vest pocket harp. Brian met guitar player,
Brian Morgan, in the Rhondda,and developed a blues style which lead him into
folk. His playing of the googa is not only to be heard but also to be seen as
after an intense session he can be seen with blood dripping from his mouth.
THE JEW'S HARP, or "googa", as it is popularly known in Britain, consists of
a horse-shoe loop of cast metal with between its jaws is a vibrating strip,
or reed, of tempered steel. Placed between the lips, with the mouth acting as
a resonator, the reed is struck to & fro, using the side of the thumb. The
instrument is known and used in most European countries, Austria and Italy being
the usual manufacturers. S.Germany had one family, at Berchtesgarten, Hitler's
mountain eyrie retreat, who had different sizes of harp playing as a quartet,
an unexpected form of anti-Semitic enterprise ! At Powburn in Northumberland,
Peter Kennedy came across a pub-full of shepherds in the 1940's playing googas
of different sizes all of which were cast by the local village blacksmith.
The reference to "blood" is real. After playing the harp, Bez nearly always
ends up with a bloody face and sores on his lips and tongue ! However, he says,
this should not discourage other players! His musical arrangements have been
influenced, by both Ananda Shankar's blend of East-West, in JUMPING JACK FLASH,
and by the sound and technique of the Australian aboriginal didgeridoo He usually
starts off with a fairly slow beat, building up in a circle, using fingers and
tongue and damping, in order to create a variety of sound.