Spectre Review


Maintaining the spooky theme Jon says, “I came across this in the now disbanded Sheffield Folklore library in a little book called German Folk Songs. Pete Flood arranged it for Bellowhead in what is probably our most epic and difficult arrangement to date. We have performed it live a few times (I think it’s on the DVD) and it works really well, although it does feel a bit like sitting A level maths every time we play it. This is a much simplified version!” It appears, of course, on Matachin and the notes in the booklet refer both to the closure of the library and resulting loss of detail, but also to this being a C20th translation of a poem by the Austrian poet Joseph Christian Von Zedlitz. Having just played that version for a quick A-B, I can concur that the arrangement is extremely tricksy and somehow this version does more for the essential spookiness of the song for me, much as I like the CD. Frustratingly there’s little more to add and even the Wiki page is brief, although a longer German/Austrian page doesn’t seem to appear in English. Those of you who are multi-lingual might like to link here, although I note Reinhard seems to have the original here as well. Any further enlightenment will be appreciated as I really like this one.




23 Responses to “Spectre Review”

  1. SRD says:

    What’s up? Forgot to put your clocks back did you?

  2. SRD says:

    I don’t know how I managed the previous double post, although the edit might give a clue. I do like this though, very Brechtian.

  3. Reinhard says:

    A bit hidden in my page is the link to my source of von Zedlitz’s original poem Die nächtliche Heerschau which also has a French and Spanish translation.

    The folklore department library at Sheffield University must have been a gem. It is sad that it was closed down–probably due to economical pressure. What happened to the library’s contents?

  4. Simon says:

    Hi folks I’ve reset the time (I hope I’ve got it right.) SRD I’ve removed that first post, I hope that doesn’t cause problems with the spam filter, but I’ll keep an eye on it.

  5. Phil says:

    Nicely nasty. But that’s a shocker of a mistranslation in the last line of the poem – “Im Elyseischen Feld” should be “in the Elysian Fields” [in the afterlife], not “in the Champs-Élysées” [in Paris]!

  6. Reinhard Zierke says:

    Wikipedia says about Champs-Élysées: “The name is French for Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed dead in Greek mythology”

  7. Stephen Jeffreys says:

    Surely the song is about Napoleon and so the reference to the Champs-Élysées is entirely appropriate.

  8. muzza says:

    I liked it…words/tune/ (performance goes with out saying).
    I wonder why Mr. von Zedlitz persononalised it to Napoleon………..had he left the French aspect out, it would be an excellent universal athem for all dead soldiers of the time.
    One small, nit-picky note:- The original:-” swelt’ring Italia’s earth below” gives a nice, hot contrast to ice & snow…..rather than “mouldering” that Jon sings.

  9. Phil says:

    Oops – should have read the lyrics more carefully. I think to settle the question we’d need to see a German-language map of Paris & see if the area is labelled “Elyseischen Feld”. If only there were a native German speaker we could call on…!

  10. Jane Ramsden says:

    A wonderfully well-sung and interesting song, Jon!

    And a very nice article about folk in general, and Bellowhead in particular, in our local daily newspaper today as per the link below:


    I have left my online comment, mentioning AFSAD, of course! A review in the latest Prop mag says positively that ‘Bellowhead reduces its audiences to a medieval mosh-pit’… I am glad I will be in the balcony at St. George’s on Nov 13th… hahahaha!

    @ Phil. I think most Germans would simply call the Champs-Élysée ‘die Champs-Élysée’ as it is less fashionable these days to translate sites of foreign historical/cultural interest into one’s own language (but I’m not sure about on maps, as I could not find a German map of Paris.) I did note though that one travel site ‘auf Deutsch’ did explain ‘die Avenue des Champs Elysées’ meant ‘Prachtstraße der Elysischen Felder’, Prachtstraße’ being a boulevard. Not words I had much use for as a German language student, long before ‘Gladiator’ was out!

  11. Jane Ramsden says:

    I did not know what was meant by ‘mosh-pit’ so had to Wiki that!


    Immensely glad I will be in the balcony! But SaltaireLive audiences are far too lovely for ‘moshing’. The joint will be jumping though!

  12. Simon Dewsbury says:

    Jane, went to the link and like the picture of the band pretending to be reservoir dogs…But you didn’t mention that the article also tells us that ‘Bellowhead will be on BBC2’s Later with Jools Holland on Tuesday’. I’m off to set up the recording, since I’ll be out watching Norma and Eliza at Brum Town Hall tomorrow.

  13. Jane Ramsden says:

    Just testing to see if you’d read it, Simon! Hahahaha!

    “pretending to be reservoir dogs” – *Shudders at thought of scary film!*

  14. muzza says:

    “Moshing”………..we called it the “Hokey Kokey” in my day.

  15. Jane Ramsden says:

    Not the jitterbug, Muzza? Hahahahahahahahaha!

  16. muzza(S.E.England) says:

    Still a great song and performance…such a sad subject……..I’m more of a “Molesworth type person”..’Hallo sky. Hallo clouds, hallo flowers’ and seek out the happier things in life……

    In the song we had the drummer..then the trumpeter……with all those skeletons around a xylophone player would have a field day! (Elysian or Elysees..take your pick!)
    @Jane….And as for you DSB Riley………I note more early morning moshing..can’t sleep eh!

  17. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: Night-owling again! Not forgotten ye are going for the 2nd hip op today, so hope all goes well and you’re back on here soon (even if you don’t see this now for a few days.) By the time I am at the Not-Les-Barker-But-Now-Jon-Palmer-Band gig at Otley Folk Club tonight, repairs will have taken place! I will raise a jar for ye! Get well soon. Pity today’s song was not more Molesworth for you, but good nonetheless.

  18. Jane Ramsden says:

    I have just noticed the AFSAD clock is now out of kilter. I am not such a night owl as I thought! Note new avatar: me, aged 5!

  19. muzza(S.E.England) says:

    @Jane…thank you for your kind wishes..ref the song …it could have been a cruel one
    “De hip bone connected to de thigh bone-now hear the word of de lord.”
    Just got to get past the 3rd Nv now…..about to circulate “Parting Glass link” to Morris fellas.
    Hope to be back soon…..and put up the remaining 250 songs in my song book!!!aaarrrggh
    enjoy Otley…pity you missed Les Barker.
    I misread your comment about your new avatar…with your exclaimation mark and my dodgy old eyes…..I read it as “Aged 51″…I thought -“Blimey that Northern air works wonders”!

  20. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: Glad you got the message as thought I’d missed. I’m a bit over 51 now, but I haven’t changed a bit from the photo…essentially… hahahaha! Just posted a link to your Les Barker Iceberg vid on YouTube to a friend of mine in the Borders. It’s his birthday today. I’ll raise a Returning Glass to you tonight at Otley Folk Club!

  21. Diana says:

    Have been listening to this on CD Matachin and it does grow on one. I love the percussion.

  22. Diana says:

    It has grown on me over the year.

  23. Linda says:

    A nicely sung epic!

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