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Song of a Road (Re-mastered)

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Album Review

Considered by Ewan MacColl to be the weakest of the eight radio ballads created for the BBC radio service, Song of a Road could be considered a failure only in respect of its apparent focus on the mechanics of road-building as applied to the construction of Britain's M1 motorway. MacColl, Charles Parker, and Peggy Seeger were initially hampered in their efforts by a mixture of BBC executive demands that tempered the spirit of the team to begin with, and the initial oversight from the public relations office for the construction project — as MacColl noted in his liner notes, this latter problem was solved in part by getting into the worst corners of the 57 miles of the initial project, convincing the PR representative that she did not need to be present.

For all MacColl's conviction that they had softened their approach to the subject, he, Parker, and Seeger managed to include quite a bit of irony and tragic realism, both in the choice of interview clips and the often pointed lyrics — a self-important chief engineer's puffed-up speech leads into a satirical song about consulting engineers; in another instance, interview clips about the life of a long-term road gang worker lead to a song from a mother to her child about his long- absent father. Despite its age (this radio ballad was produced in 1959), Song of a Road is still vitally fascinating — more importantly, it bears repeated listening.


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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Song of a Road (Re-mastered), Ewan MacColl
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