Louis Killen (1934-2013) was one of the most influential early pioneers of the British folksong revival. A prolific gatherer of songs and folklore, Killen worked with many of the giants of folk music on both British and American shores, including Pete Seeger and the Clancy Brothers. In the early '60s he recorded for the Topic label, and appeared on countless compilation albums (not listed below) as well as several records of his own. He emigrated to the United States in 1967, and during most of the 1970s Killen was a member of the Clancy Brothers group, serving as the replacement for Tommy Makem, who had left for a solo career in 1970. Here's a quick look at his work...
Louis Killen & Isla Cameron "The Waters Of The Tyne" (Prestige, 1961) (LP)
Louis Killen "Ballads And Broadsides" (Topic, 1965)
Louis Killen "Sea Chanteys" (ESP Disc, 1968)
Louis Killen "50 South To 50 South" (South Street Seaport Museum, 1969) (LP)
Louis Killen & Peter Bellamy "Won't You Go My Way?" (Argo, 1971) (LP)
A collaboration with singer Peter Bellamy...
Louis Killen & The Clancy Brothers "Show Me The Way" (Audio Fidelity, 1972) (LP)
Louis Killen & The Clancy Brothers "Live On St. Patrick's Day" (Audio Fidelity, 1973)
Louis Killen & The Clancy Brothers "Save The Land!" (Audio Fidelity, 1974) (LP)
Louis Killen & Sally Killen "Bright Shining Morning" (Front Hall, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Louis Killen & Sally Killen)
An excellent album of duets with his then-wife, Sally Killen (nee Sally Jennings), an American-born enthusiast of British traditional music whose voice perfectly compliments his plainspoken style. The repertoire is outstanding, as are their soulful, expressive vocals -- a seemingly simple, stripped-down sound that will appeal to fans of the Watersons or the Collins sisters. Highly recommended.
Louis Killen "Old Songs, Old Friends" (Front Hall, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Louis Killen & Bill Spence)
A delightful set of English, Scottish and Australian folk tunes, including many classics known to fans of the style. Killen sings a capella or with modest self-accompaniment; he dubs his own harmony on "Ca' The Yowes," and it sounds so nice you wish he'd been more willing to "compromise" the purity of the music with technology... But the stripped-down sound suits him well, and as the album title suggests, this is all about the songs, and great ones they are, full of bawdy good humor and fine, spirited delivery from an old master of the style. Recommended!
Louis Killen "Gallant Lads Are We: Songs Of The British Industrial Revolution" (Collector, 1980)
(Produced by Joe Glazer & Louis Killen)
Killen sings strictly a capella on this understated set of workers' song, with lyrics that convey a wide variety of topics and sentiments, mostly laments rather than overt protests, and many that are pretty far off the beaten track. Most fo the songs are older topical songs dating back to the 19th Century, though there are more contemporary tunes as well, such as Cyril Tawney's "In The Sidings." Killen opts not to play the concertina on this album, but there are some particularly nice tracks where he records his own harmony vocals, such as "Aa Cud Hew," a mournful chant about coal miners contracting black lung disease. All in all, another fine album, this time with a distictly topical focus.
Louis Killen "The Rose In June" (KnockOut, 1989)
Louis Killen "A Bonny Bunch" (KnockOut, 1993)
Louis Killen "Sailors, Ships And Chanteys, v.1" (KnockOut, 1995)
Louis Killen "Sailors, Ships & Chanteys, v.2: A Seaman's Garland" (KnockOut, 1997)
Louis Killen "The Rose In June" (Old & New Tradition, 2001) (Expanded edition)
Louis Killen & The Clancy Brothers "Greatest Hits" (Vanguard, 1975)
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