The Ballad of John Axon (Remastered)
Ewan MacColl, Charles Parker & Peggy Seeger
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The very first of the MacColl/Parker/Seeger radio ballads for the BBC, commemorating both a railwayman who died trying to stop his runaway train, and British railwaymen in general. The production itself more or less required them to invent their techniques on the fly — there was originally no intention of using the field recordings as they were, nor was there any particular intent of using folk ballad musical forms, and so down the line to the post-production phase, which saw Charles Parker coming up with entirely news ways of approaching the art of tape editing and creation audio montages. The later radio ballads would take a more formal approach, which allowed for an easier time in creating the programs, as well as improved flexibility in how they approached them (as with reducing the complexity of the structure, as happened with The Body Blow). The Ballad of John Axon is quite a bit more rough and ready than the later shows, but this is, fortunately, in keeping with the underlying subject — the guts and pain of the Iron Way, rather than the glory and romance of trains. This is a compelling, brilliant production, influential on both radio and television documentaries at least in terms of its application of actuality and montage. Not to be missed. ~ Steven E. McDonald, Rovi
Born: 25 January 1915 in Salford, England
Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s