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The Travelling People (Re-mastered)

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Album Review

The last of the radio ballads that Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger, and Charles Parker devised, The Travelling People is also the most accomplished, both in form and content. An examination of the Romany people in Britain, it serves mostly as a condemnation of attitudes toward them and their nomadic lifestyle — which, as reflected in many of the soundbites, were not complimentary. People simply didn't want them around, calling them "tinkers" and things much worse, as "I Mean, We're Fed Up With Gypsies Living in Our Area" highlights, with the incident of a woman about to give birth being moved on by the police. The attitudes were reflected in other ways too, like the boy who spent several years in the same grade without being taught to read or write, because, the teacher explained, "he's the best message boy I've ever had." But this does more than simply look at the negatives. It examines the life of the gypsies, the way they'd settle in the winter time, or how traveling was part of their nature. MacColl's songs are among the finest he wrote for the radio ballad series, and the accompaniment is richer and fuller than before, and the singers — people like Belle Stewart, Joe Heaney, and Jane Stewart — serve the material brilliantly. They become integrated into a whole program — which is what each of the radio ballads was, of course — that's intelligently fashioned to bring out a whole picture, one which is sympathetic to the travelers, but also allows for opposing views. The listener comes away educated, and also humbled by the quiet pride of these people. It's nothing less than a remarkable achievement.

Biography

Born: January 25, 1915 in Salford, England

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Ewan MacColl may well have been the most influential person in the British folk song revival. From his early manhood until his death in 1989, he remained passionately committed to folk, though not exclusively; he was also a poet, playwright, organizer, activist, songwriter, husband, and father. MacColl was born James Henry Miller in Salford, England in 1915. His father was a lowland man who spoke Scots English, his mother a highlander who spoke Gaelic. Both of his parents were singers. MacColl left...
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The Travelling People (Re-mastered), Ewan MacColl
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