Swansea Barracks


Jon acknowledges Mike Waterson as his source of this  and notes, “Bellowhead have done this a few times – maybe we’ll get around to recording it at some point.”

This is one that seems to have traversed the Irish Sea as there’s an original ballad, The Blooming Rose Of Antrim at its root. Or at least so Bert Lloyd has it at Mainly Norfolk. Apparently the tune was originally a capstan shanty and is common to other songs. It seems unusual to have a happy ending here, although I’m a bit concerned that ‘the blooming rose’ might need a trip to the opticians.


47 Responses to “Swansea Barracks”

  1. Simon says:

    Sorry folks everything got in a slight muddle and I clearly didn’t quite finish what I started the other day. So the wrong track went up without text last night. I even looked at it, but clearly couldn’t see the wood for the trees at that late hour. Anyway, we’re back on track with apologies to all concerned.

  2. Dick Ansell says:

    A good song, sung well. It also solves a mix-up over the title “Swansea Town”, which it is used, when sung by Mike Waterson. “Swansea Town” is also used for a different song entirely.

  3. Reinhard says:

    That’s the problem with generic titles which we also had yesterday with Worcester / Oxford City. Steve Roud lists three song families with this titlle: this one, i.e. Swansea Barracks / Swansea Town (Roud 1416), then Old Swansea Town No More / Swansea Town / The Holy Ground (Roud 929), and at last Swansea Town as a variant of Adieu My Lovely Nancy (Roud 165).

  4. Simon Dewsbury says:

    As you say, nice to have a happy ending for once.

    anyway, to change subject slightly, I’ve just ordered Oak Ash and Thorn, a new CD of covers of Peter Bellamy arrangements of Kipling lyrics, with Jon (perhaps inevitably) involved.

    http://www.folkpolicerecordings.com/the-oak-ash–thorn-project.html has more info and
    you can listen to Jon’s version of ‘Frankie’s Trade’ on that site. So far as I can tell, it’s the same arrangement as he was playing on the AFSAD tour (which was wonderful live and is one of the reasons I’m desperately hoping he does a whole CD with the Remnant Kings). I think it may feature one of the Edison phonographs.

  5. Simon Dewsbury says:

    ….I’ve just listened to Frankie’s Trade again and I’m wondering if it’s actually a recording of Peter Bellamy himself which is featured on the track; perhaps more informed ears than mine could listen and decide. Either way, it’s quite haunting.

  6. Jan says:

    An interesting song, well sung as usual, although this tune did nothing for me personally. A bit different from the ‘broken token’ group of songs where the chap usually sails away for seven years – folks obviously change a lot in that length of time as the girl never seems to recognise him at first on his return!

  7. Jane Ramsden says:

    I think this is quite wonderful and another voting contender! The short-sighted contrivance at least allows for a happy ending, so alright by me… also very short-sighted! Beautifully played and sung, Jon.

  8. Neil says:

    Am I the only one who finds the whole broken token thing a bit creepy?

    Chap pretends to be someone else, saying that the young lady’s true love is dead and then OH LOOK! It’s actually me!

    Anybody tried that for real you’d call the police right?

  9. SRD says:

    Not so much creepy as downright dangerous; I’ve always thought that Betsy in Claudy Banks should have slapped his face and chucked him back into the water.

  10. Jane Ramsden says:

    Very nice to hear some men say that such an attention-seeking ploy is basically unacceptable! However, I am wondering what he felt like if his own true love did not even recognise him. Still, it had been 8 years. He may have changed and needed to be sure she still felt the same. Since other versions of the song stop short of this device with no happy ending, I think the contrivance is a bit of a tacked-on twist to re-unite the couple. SRD, you made me laugh though!

  11. LadyD says:

    I think its quite possible she could have not recognized him. He could have been a teen when he left but 8 years later a man. Got a tan, and grown a beard.

    Anyway…enjoyed the track.

  12. John Phipps says:

    And the Dread Pyrate Roberts mask fooled Buttercup in A Princess Bride.

  13. Cherry says:

    Lovely tune. beautifully sung. Interesting phrase- my universal woman… as in a girl in each port?

  14. Adelaide says:

    I remember this song from my first ever Bellowhead gig- I’m very glad to have found it again! I loved it on the night and still do.

  15. Diana says:

    A haunting tale with haunting music. Really enjoyed this one. Nicely done Jon – running out of different adjectives I’m afraid.

  16. Muzza(NW Surrey.UK) says:

    Jon + concertina makes this a pleasant experience(I presume Jon playing).
    I have plucked an example from the AussieFSAD to illustrate just how wrong things can go……. http://ozfolksongaday.blogspot.com/2012/01/song-of-thrush.html
    (Presume singer is not playing as it all goes a bit pear-shaped around line 5)
    AussieFSAD one is a Nice little sad song/story apart from the discord!

  17. Jane Ramsden says:

    Still love this Rose of Allendale-type song. How lovely to be considered someone’s universal woman as in no need for a woman in every port. A hyperbolic romantic notion with much song appeal, hauntingly drawn out by thee, Jon!

    Shame Pierre Walsh has not been able to access AFSAD for a few days. He asked me to post why. He’s getting a window popping up saying: A script is running that is causing Internet Explorer to run slowly. If you continue to to run this script, your computer may become unresponsive. Then the computer crashes! So he is AFSAD-less. I have a couple of techie ideas to get him back on track, but I’m no computer hot-shot!

  18. Jane Ramsden says:

    Good link, Muzza. I wish I’d time to follow the Australian AFSAD as well, but a stretch too far methinks.

    Now, as you know, I am not ‘properly musical’ so the specific discord to which you allude eluded Ted! The concertina tune all sounded a bit at odds to the sung melody to my ears.

    However, more light may be shed when I watch a dvd I bought in the pound shoppe boldly entitled ‘You Can Sing!’ Of course, there may a reason why it was only a pound… and my singing may reflect this accordingly…

    But I bet Miss Peggy Pryde singing ‘The Song Of The Thrush’ went down a storm in Australian mining camps though! Not a dry eye in the house! I think this is one you could definitely devise an act for on YouTube, Muzza!

  19. Muzza(NW Surrey.UK) says:

    @Jane..no special discord Janey…it sounded ok until line 5 and then the concertina player and the singer did not empathise……the musician forgot that the singer and song is more important than the accompanist!..Just off to get me a thrush in a cage!

  20. Diana says:

    Muzza followed your link but think I will stick to the English version.

  21. Jane Ramsden says:

    I’m with thee on this, Diana!

    Then again, if Muzza does it on YouTube akin to his polar bear song, it would be worth a re-visit! I’m thinking a vulture in a cage at this point… I would not put it past you, Muzzy! Or a woolly owl? Hahahahaha!

  22. Diana says:

    Jane I would love to hear the polar bear song – sounds lovely. One of Muzza’s I assume. Left 2 messages on FB under some pictures and thanks for update.

  23. Jane Ramsden says:

    Posted YouTube link on your FB wall, Diana. But worth many repeat performances, so here it is on here again!

  24. Diana says:

    Absolutely wonderful! Well done Muzza – certainly worth a repeat. I must remember the 5th to come back for the link again. He cartainly looked the part Jane.

  25. Linda says:

    @Reinhard I have found the song I was asking about the other day I had the Spiers and Boden Songs CD on this morning and one of the songs is Lucy Wan which is similar to Edward for content eg who.s blood it is.

  26. Reinhard says:

    Good for you, Linda! I should have thought of it myself. And the relationship of hoth songs has already been mentioned here on July 16 when Jon sang Lucy Wan.

  27. Diana says:

    I am discovering who a lot of the folk singers mentioned, of whom I’ll be honest I know very little. All this thanks to Reynard and Mainly Norfolk when I play the Youtube videos. Oh sorry I have boobled there Reinhard.

    Linda you should play Jane’s link to the polar bear song – its quite amusing.

  28. Linda says:

    @Diana last time I watched the polar bear song I spent quite a while listening to Les Barker material.!

  29. Diana says:

    @Linda you have come across it before then. I get a lot of pleasure following some of the links. I seldom go on Youtube except for some of Bellowhead, Spiers & Boden etc which are on my favourites bar (is that the right term)?

    At present Norton are scrolling thought their full system scan which they seem to do every few days and I can’t switch off till they finish. It is always late in the evening unfortunately.

  30. Diana says:

    Linda I have just gone onto S & B’s tour dates and Bury Met has disappeared and the Sheffield Cathedral one is now April 13th by the look of it.

  31. Reynard says:

    I don’t know if Jon has ever sung Les Barker, but if you want to feast on more of Barker’s delicious dishes, try some Hard Cheese of Old England. I would have liked to have it for tea.

  32. Diana says:

    Oh goodie, you are back – it was force of habit I’m afraid. I have just been listening to Eliza Carthy singing the Worcester City song with S & B – she is excellent.

  33. Muzza(NW Surrey.UK) says:

    Just watched Keith Allan interview Nick Griffin of the British National Party and the latter revealed that he is a great fan of folk music and especially of Peter Bellamy.
    I note this just as a point of interest…not to start a polical debate.

  34. Muzza(NW Surrey.UK) says:

    Still sitting here (1:30am)waiting for song for the 6th……..what time is the witching hour?

  35. Muzza(NW Surrey.UK) says:

    Now 2am…(Yaaawn) gotta go…..I’ll have to hear song for the 6th in the morning…
    oooer.. a woolly owl just flew by..If I can catch it I’m sure I can find a use for it!

  36. Pewter says:

    I’d like to thank the Blooming (White) Rose of Bradford (Janie R) for helping me back onto this site; hurrah! She suggested getting in via ‘the back door’ using Google Chrome and it worked. My normal browser just couldn’t hack it any longer. It’s like being barred from your local pub!

    Ahem. So excuse me while I catch up on the songs and discussions. I’ll be back…

  37. Pewter says:

    …of course I rushed straight to the leap day bonus song; absolutely brilliant. A ‘Brief Encounter’ and no mistake! Didn’t know there were still trains with corridors and compartments. I hope it was hauled by a steam engine too! Great rendition, under the circumstances. Knew the song from the Nic Jones album.
    Today we have a folk song with a happy ending – oh, joy! This should please Diana! I agree with her that it’s haunting. Excellent playing – is it Jon on concertina?

  38. Peter Walsh says:

    @Diana – just seen your question about Hargreaves Hamilton in Bolton! I haven’t been down Gaskell Street in a while, but they are still there on Google as being at Nelson Mill and selling Industrial Clothing. Do I have the right company? I’ll have a ride out there soon and have a look for you.

  39. Diana says:

    Welcome back Pewter, have missed you. No song the other day first thing but it had appeared when I tried again a couple of hours or so later, so there’s time. Jane is quite remarkable isn’t she?

  40. Diana says:

    Thanks Pewter for your message which came in whilst I was still getting around to sending one to you. The name is right but I remember them as engineers rather than Industrial Clothing. I know they ended up in a street off either Chorley New or Chorley Old Road.

  41. Peter Walsh says:

    Yes, Google gives them also as industrial gear engineers – maybe they’ve branched out!

  42. Diana says:

    Thanks Pewter for your trouble. It sounds like they have branched out – I really cannot see two firms with identical names. I know they had a pattern shop which was always hot when I had to go through it – flames and steam everywhere. I was a wages clerk in those days.

  43. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Pierre & Diana: Blooming White Rose is blushing here at accolades! Thankee, you-much-nicer-peeps-than-me! Glad to be of service.

    @ Muzza: I suppose no real surprise that Nick Griffin would like traditional folk music (of this country/British Isles presumably?) given his politics. I understand the BNP had misappropriated Steve Knightley’s/Show of Hands ‘Roots’ song on their website, so he had to ask them to stop it and give it back, which they did without argument. Folk Against Fascism!

  44. Mark says:

    Folk music and traditional song is by nature a big, glorious mish-mash of different cultures and styles. It encompasses caribbean shanties and quebecois dance, and a whole world in between. I’m not sure what a tedious bigot like Nick Griffin finds attractive about it, beyond a misguided longing for an ‘indigenous’ albion that never existed.

    What a lovely song, Jon!

  45. Diana says:

    Really enjoyed this one again!

  46. OldMuzza (NWSurrey UK) says:

    just had to listen to this thrush song again from my comment in 2012


    The musician still not got the knack of matching the singer!

  47. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Jane’s comment from 2012 above
    Any news of the Iceberg…..
    reminding us of dear old Les Barker who wrote it and loads of other wonderful parodies!

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