[Dixielandjazz] Songs

Ken Mathieson ken at kenmath.free-online.co.uk
Tue Jul 30 14:05:15 PDT 2013

I wrote:
All of the material listed above was recorded initially for Beltona, a small label which specialised in Scottish traditional material, almost all of which was out of copyright, so when the Clyde Valley Stompers recorded for Beltona they were forced to play public domain tunes to avoid royalty payments. Hence the unusual choice of material.
  Marek wrote:
  The first few numbers on the CD sound as if they were recorded live.  Of course, the applause couldhave been added, but it does not sound that way.  Not sure they did such things back in 1956.  Moreover, Belotna was a Decca label, and Decca was a larger company than Pye, wasn't it?  

  Beltona was indeed a subsidiary of a larger company, possibly Decca, but was run locally from Glasgow for the Scottish market. The Beltona management insisted on public domain material being used for the tracks recorded by them as they weren't in the habit of paying for copyright clearances. Without hearing the CDs, I've no idea where or when the live recording was made, or who the musicians were. Do the sleeve notes give any clues?  

  Marek wrote:
  "Swingin' Seamus" was recorded in April 1959, after "the band secured a recording contract with Pye under the auspices of the redoubtable Lonnie Donegan."  And it certainly was not public domain, but an original by Ian Menzies and Jim McHarg.  "The Uist Tramping Song" and "I Love a Lassie" are attributed to composers, which does not necessarily mean they are not public domain.

  When the band switched to Pye, they started to record jazz repertoire which would attract royalty payments, but continued to adapt Scottish songs to a jazz setting to emphasise that they were a wee bit different from all the English bands. Are publisher details given for Swinging Seamus? It might be an original composition of 2 of the band players, but if it hadn't been published it would go out as "copyright control" without attracting publisher royalties. Similarly, Uist Tramping Song was a traditional air which had been published in a collection of other folk songs, so may not have attracted composer royalties. I Love a Lassie was a hit for Harry Lauder but may well have been out of copyright by 1959. The point is that Pye was less averse to issuing copyright material than Beltona, but, like any record company, was happy to issue material which didn't attract full composer and publisher rights.

  Marek wrote:
  Maurie Rose is on six out of the 53 numbers only.  Some of the vocals leave a lot to be desired.

  Those 6 tracks would be from the Beltona recording. When the band moved to London during the "Trad Boom" there were several changes of personnel. Some musicians didn't want to uproot their families and go to London and a new crop of talented young musicians was available in Glasgow to take their places. Perhaps Maurice's eccentricities didn't lend themselves to endless touring: they were hugely entertaining if you only heard about them now and then, but having to live with them 24 hours a day could well have been trying and there's no contesting the quality of his replacement, Forrie Cairns. Once Fionna Duncan became the band singer, the quality of vocals improved markedly. She's still singing well today, although she's been off the scene for a while through illness, but she performed in this year's Edinburgh Jazz Festival and by all reports it was a cracking gig.




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