English-born troubadour Martyn Wyndham-Read found his life's passion in the frontiers-y vistas of Australia, spending several years as a bush worker in Southern Australia in the early 1960s, then returning to England as a seasoned balladeer, carrying the torch of Australia's much-neglected folk tradition. It might seem like a narrow or peculiar field to specialize in, but Wyndham-Read does it with great aplomb, mixing warm humor with profound emotional depth, and introducing listeners to a wealth of little-known but delightful "new" tunes. His records are a little hard to find, but worth tracking down...
Martyn Wyndham-Read "Undiscovered Australia" (Musica Pangea, 1996)
This CD is a best-of collection, drawing on three albums that recorded for the Fellside label -- the songs are uniformly excellent, ranging from standard-issue '60s-style folk to spooky ghost stories such as the haunting "The Water Lily," historical ballads and, of course, a number of sheep-shearing songs -- a big topic in older Australian folk music. This is a great introduction to Wyndham-Read's work; if you enjoy British trad-folk, but all means pick this up and discover this little-known but first-rate artist!
Martyn Wyndham-Read "Ned Kelly And That Gang" (Leader, 1970)
A fascinating collection of Australian outlaw ballads, written during the days of the convict transports that helped found the nation. Many of these songs are story-songs of legendary outlaws such as Ned Kelly (the subject of an iffy movie that starred Mick Jagger...) and his ilk. Like Nic Jones, Wyndham-Read has one of those voices that conveys great authenticity and command of his material, although with a little more concession to the niceties of melody and tunefulness. I'm not sure, but I suspect this album is long out of print, as are many great albums on the Leader label.
Martyn Wyndham-Read "Harry The Hawker Is Dead" (Decca/Argo, 1973)
(Produced by Kevin Daly)
Martyn Wyndham-Read "Andy's Gone" (Roadside, 1979)
(Produced by Jon Raven)
Martyn Wyndham-Read "Emu Plains" (Fellside, 1981/2001)
Continuing his fascination with Australian folk iconography, Wyndham-Read recorded this gorgoeous album of ballads from Down Under. Full of pioneer story-songs, odes to natural spendor, and numerous beautiful melodies. Nic Jones plays fiddle on two tracks; several songs have been added to the expanded CD reissue. Absolutely lovely -- just the kind of folk music I enjoy the most... with stately instrumentation and wonderfully expressive vocals. Highly recommended!!
Martyn Wyndham-Read "Mussels On A Tree" (Fellside)
Martyn Wyndham-Read "Sunlit Plains" (Fellside, 1994)
Martyn Wyndham-Read & No-Man's Band "Beneath A Southern Sky" (Fellside)
Martyn Wyndham-Read & No-Man's Band "Beyond The Red Horizon" (Fellside)
Martyn Wyndham-Read & No-Man's Band "Where Ravens Feed" (Fellside, 2001)
A curious and lovely album of songs written by Graeme Miles, a little-known folkie from Northern England (around Newcastle)... As Miles himself puts it in the liner notes, this album rescues his music from near-total obscurity, reviving numerous tunes he wrote in the late '60s and early '70s, when he was most engaged in his local folk scene. Some of the songs are a bit downcast, about topics such as urban industrialization, the start of "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland, and also several melancholy odes to the natural beauty of the English countryside. Wyndham-Read and his group certainly do the material justice; his vocals are as expressive and compelling as ever... Graeme Miles can be heard as a performer on old recordings made for the scrappy independent label, Folktrax.
Martyn Wyndham-Read/Various Artists "SONG LINKS: A CELEBRATION OF ENGLISH TRADITIONAL SONGS AND THEIR AUSTRALIAN VARIANTS" (Fellside, 2003)
Martyn Wyndham-Read & No-Man's Band "Oceans In The Sky" (Fellside, 2005)
Main Celt/Brit Index
International Music Index