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Portraits: Harry Cox - What Will Become of England?

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Album Review

Although Alan Lomax is most known for his field recordings in the American South, the folklorist spent quite a bit of time in the British Isles as well. This set of recordings, from 1953, showcases the Norfolk, England-born folk singer Harry Cox. One of the most recorded English country singers of the postwar era, Cox's extensive repertoire of songs both familiar and impossibly obscure, along with his almost total recall of events in his life (many of the 46 tracks collected here are spoken-word reminiscences; helpfully, these are transcribed in the extensive booklet to help listeners having difficulty with Cox's broad East Anglia accent), made him a treasure trove of songs that might have otherwise been lost. The selection on What Will Become of England? includes ballads, fisherman's songs, sea shanties, satirical songs, and pub-style singalongs, delivered both a cappella and with his own fiddle and button concertina accompaniment. Though these recordings are primarily historical documents and therefore mostly of interest to other folklorists, Cox is an engaging singer with a fine voice and an idiosyncratic manner of phrasing, making What Will Become of England? an enjoyable listen for less devoted fans of rural English folk music as well.


Born: October 10, 1885 in Barton Turf, Norfolk, England

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Harry Cox was a lifelong farm laborer and folk singer from a small village in North Norfolk. Born in 1885, he achieved regional fame as a performer early in his life, after being discovered by the English composer E.J. Moeran in the '20s, but it was not until after World War II that his recordings would bring him broader recognition. The boom in documentation of folk music that was inspired by Alan Lomax and his ilk in the '50s brought about a new appreciation of the traditional music of the British...
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Portraits: Harry Cox - What Will Become of England?, Harry Cox
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