More Bad News is the third Broadside Electric album. This Philadelphia band has spent 5 years researching and assembling a collection of folk music, ranging from English ballads to Klezmer, from Balkan dances to French hurdy-gurdy music. Then they've dragged it all out back and mercilessly smacked it around. This disc contains some of the latest results.
MORE BAD NEWS ...
BABYLON (trad.) 5:46
We've decided to open this album with what has become only the second most gory ballad in our repertoire. Our hero goes about his daily murderous business, but on this particular occasion finds that he has not done his research.
This ballad is Child No. 14. We took both the tune and the words from Bronson's The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, variant #4, "The Bonnie Banks of the Virgie, O." This version was originally collected in 1929. It appears in Greenleaf and Mansfield's Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland.
LORD BATEMAN (trad.) 5:39
with Belasicko Oro (trad.)
An Englishman lands in jail during an ill-advised trip to Turkey, but finds an unlikely accomplice. There is a happy ending, but we think it's a good song anyway.
For our version of Child ballad No. 53, we consulted Bronson and combined the tunes of two versions: Variant #53, "The Turkish Lady" from John Harrington Cox's Traditional Ballads Mainly from West Virginia, and Variant #62, "Lord Bateman" from West Chinwick, England, collected by Cecil Sharp. Belasicko Oro is a dance from former-Yugoslav Macedonia.
BUCIMIS (trad.) 3:58
A Bulgarian dance in 15/8. We perform it faster than we've ever heard it, so we've likely rendered it undanceable. But you're absolutely welcome to try! Apparently you don't even need 15 feet.
We first heard a version of this tune from Severnjasko on a recorded collection of dances. We ended up using a slightly different version, from Shope, as transcribed by Richard Geisler in his Bulgarian Collection.
SILKIE (Tom Rhoads) 5:13
A silkie is a creature of Celtic mythology who takes the form of a seal and a human interchangeably, a plot device which works well in this bit of soap-style melodrama.
This is our version of Child No. 113, "The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry." We were unsatisfied with the various tunes traditionally associated with this ballad. Tom wrote us a completely new tune for this version, and re-wrote the bulk of the words as well. The events of the story are unchanged.
THE SPINNING WHEEL AND THE BRONZE AXE (reels) 3:44
The First House in Connaught (trad., Ireland), Oot be Est da Vong (trad., Shetland), Sleep Soon Ida Moarnin' (trad., Shetland), and The Bank of Ireland (trad., Ireland)
We gathered this mix of reels from a number of collected sources. The overall title was achieved by means of a favorite method: flipping randomly through old college texts. In this case, we victimized the Marx-Engels Reader.
PASTURES OF PLENTY (Woody Guthrie) 4:55
"To you the earth yields her fruit, and you shall not want if you but know how to fill your hands. It is in exchanging the gifts of the earth that you shall find abundance and be satisfied. Yet unless the exchange be in love and kindly justice, it will but lead some to greed and others to hunger." - Kahil Gibran
AS I ROVED OUT (trad.) 4:23
A fun Irish song that every remotely Irish-flavored band eventually gets around to. As if parents didn't have enough reasons to disapprove of kids having casual sex, this song relates another old and good one.
We were inspired by Boiled In Lead's version, but ours quickly evolved into a new animal.
GAS NIGN & MAKEDONSKO DEVOJCE (trad. & trad.) 4:37
Two tunes glued together! The first is an untitled Jewish melody. "Gas Nign" is a common heading for many tunes, being Yiddish for "street tune." This one was indeed taken from a live performance in the streets of Tiraspol, Ukraine. It was transcribed in 1937 by Moshe Beregovski, who collected thousands of pieces of Jewish folk music while employed at the Ukranian Academy of Sciences. We found it in Mark Slobin's Old Jewish Folk Music.
The second is a song from Macedonia. We didn't bother with the words, since we're totally unfamiliar with the language. The title means "Macedonian Girl," and the lyrics remind us of the Beach Boys. We took this tune from the Geisler transcriptions.
SHEATH AND KNIFE (words trad./melody anon.) 9:02
with Dospatsko Horo (trad.)
Can you people stand one more Child ballad? A friend suggested that this ballad outscores "Babylon" on the Disgust-O-Meter (I'm paraphrasing), so of course we had to work up our own version. While the body count is relatively low, there are extenuating circumstances which push this one over the top. A son and daughter find themselves in a jam, and they choose the ugly way out. Later, the King and his son struggle over some of the finer points of pre-Freudian symbolism.
We took our version of the lyric from Child No. 16. The melody is from an anonymous 16th century French madrigal, which we'd had on the back burner for a while, pending a bright idea. The tune at the end is a dance from Dospat, Bulgaria.
J'AI VÛ LE LOUP (trad.) 3:01
with J'ai Vû le Loup, le Rénard, et la Bellette (trad.)
A French song mixed in with another French tune. We combined them for the most noble possible musical reason: because they have the same name. The song title means "I saw the wolf." The tune title goes two better with "I saw the wolf, the fox, and the weasel." What I saw these animals doing was having a rowdy dance party that I just thought I'd crash.
We learned the song from The Baltimore Consort and the tune from Malicorne.
All songs and tunes on this recording were arranged by Broadside Electric.
All songs arranged by Broadside Electric
Produced by Tom Rhoads, Jim Speer, Helene Zisook, and Adam Glickman
Recorded and mixed at Chill Factor Studios, Ardmore, PA
Cover design by Jim Speer
Digital post-production by Ray Monahan
Melissa and some additional tracks recorded at Milkboy Recording, Philadelphia, PA
Manufactured by Disc Makers, Pennsauken, NJ
Thanks to Adam Glickman, Tommy Joyner, Mike Ciul, Meg Newburger, JD Paul, Dan Riles, Rachel Hall, Ben Lewis, Sam Williams, Melissa Demian, and our families.
The Chapman Stick® is a registered trademark of Stick Enterprises, Inc.
©(P) 1996 Clever Sheep Records * P.O. Box 331 * Ardmore, PA 19003
More Bad News ... (1997)
SPECIAL EDITION with enhanced aural effects
BONUS TRACKS or "Cover City"
Once we decided to remaster "More Bad News" it seemed to be the perfect opportunity to throw in some covers:
THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE-DOWN (L. Rosselson) 3:55
Leon Rosselson's anthem for the dispossessed. Tom brought this song to us because he feels that it goes to the heart of what socialism and social consciousness should be about.
SUGAR TRADE (J. Taylor, T. Mayer, J. Buffet, arr. T. Rhoads) 2:25
We never thought we'd cover a James Taylor song, but hey, if Fairport Convention can do one... Plus, Jim and Helene fell in love with Tom's arrangement and prevented it from being suppressed.
MAGELLAN (J. McCann and P.K. Rugg) 4:54
with Snow on the Hills (Aina Eagan)
The Ballad of Magellan is an age-old tale of a voyage into the unknown: a man travels to find his way to the East Indies and, in so doing, traverses the mysteries and intricacies of his own soul. We cannot stress enough the effect this deeply moving story had on the three of us. After hearing it for the first time, we entered a state of hyper-awareness where for a short time we grasped the answers to the pressing questions we all ask ourselves about our place in the universe. We woke up three days later in a canoe drifting around in the mighty Schuylkill River with no recollection of our prior activities. *
Snow on the Hills is a wonderful jig we heard on a Boiled in Lead album.
All songs and tunes on this recording were arranged by Broadside Electric.
Bonus tracks produced by Tom Rhoads, Jim Speer, Helene Zisook, and Tommy Joyner
Recorded and mixed at Milkboy Recording, Philadelphia, PA
Folder and CD design by Helene Zisook
Remastered and manufactured at Masterwork, Philadelphia, PA
Thanks to: Tommy Joyner, Mary Riles, Gene Shay and Rich Zapf.
© 1997 Clever Sheep Records
* The truth is we heard it on "Kids Corner," one of the best radio shows on the planet, and entered a state of Animaniawareness after which we woke up a year later having watched too much TV. The song itself probably bears little or no resemblance to anything that actually ever happened to anybody.
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