It’s not every day you get an invite to do a live recording session with the BBC, but we got one from the consistently supportive Andrew Marston from BBC Introducing Hereford & Worcester a couple of weeks ago. He’s been playing and plugging our ‘gentler’ tracks on his weekend show for a couple of years now – tunes that we rarely play live – so our initial reaction was ‘FUCK, how are we gonna play 4 songs that don’t have any swearing in?!‘
After some joint research, and dismissing tracks such as You Keep Coming (not sweary, but about women wanking), we settled on tweaking the odd word in Hungry Little Human (about breastfeeding), Call Off the Dogs (about escaping domestic abuse), the Ren penned R U Happy? (about mental health) and Plant Roses In It (about the state of society). The chorus of the last one is ‘Yeh yeh it’s all shit‘. More on that later.
Off we headed to Malvern, and stayed by a brilliant, friendly little pub in Newland called The Swan. The beer was well kept and the menu is well worth checking out – they even have a whole page for vegans! We planned to busk in the day, but it was Sunday, and Malvern was a ghost town. Instead, we set up in the garden of a nice pub called The Unicorn, got a few quid in the hat, and talked some of the local old boys into coming to the gig later.
The Malvern Cube is a great community venue, and host to this particular BBC Introducing session. Great spaces like this exist everywhere, but are regularly in danger of closure, and need supporting. Life without live music venues would be rubbish.
We got there early enough to support the other 3 acts on the bill – Neon Creatures, Gordon Star and RAB, and were given the drill. They all did their thing well, but Neon Creatures stood out for all of us. Half of the 6 piece are women, and the singer’s voice melts your brains.
Gail was ill from a sulfite reaction after too much dodgy cheap red wine a few days before and Ren had strained his picking hand tendons. Luckily, Aimee and Lizzie were in full energy mode and it was rubbing off. We played follow the leader with Andy, their photographer (all pics on this blog are his) and then it was time for our stint.
We successfully dropped the ‘whore‘ out of Hungry Little Human and replaced it with ‘boar‘, swapped the ‘fucks‘ in Call off the Dogs for ‘cares‘ – but Tom Robinson didn’t when he played us on 6Music the following weekend – though the instrumentals were removed. You can hear that on his Saturday night show, and his Sunday night MIXTAPE for the next 3 weeks or so. The fire alarms went off during R U Happy, due to an overzealous smoke machine which we’d requested not to have on, Haitch, our band Mum, accused us of breaking the BBC and then it all went a bit sideways for Plant Roses in It..
We’re not advocates of censorship, and it’s pretty tricky to replace words you’ve muscle memoried in for so long, so the inevitable ‘shit‘ came out, and Gail lost hers after the second attempt at a take.
‘This is bollocks, they say the cuntword on Radio 4 all the time. It’s not the 19 fucking 50s’ followed by all of the expletives like a naughty kid who’d just learnt them.
The organisers remained cool and professional, and just told us to play it as it’s supposed to be, but keep ‘shankers‘ instead of ‘wankers‘. Looking forward to hearing how they clean all that shit up!
Reckon overall it was one for the experience bank, and we definitely had fun.It’ll be broadcast, or the songs and some of the interview anyway, on 24 and 25 August. We’ll share the links when they’re up. Meantime, here’s some snippets of video from Haitch & Dan’s phones.
‘Beautiful, quirky and humorous lyrics about life’s little challenges in a must-see live show.’ – Andrew Marston – BBC Introducing
The moveable feast that is Muddy Summers and The Dirty Field Whores are back with their third album and another line up change. Recorded in true DIY style through four laptops in different parts of the country, this is their first one with the hard-working and talented multi-instrumentalist, Ren Stedman.
All bands, all artists, should progress, must develop and change if they are not to stagnate and continue to comfortably phone in more of the same. As William Blake once said, ‘expect poison from the standing water’. This album is born of a band who have flexed their creative muscles so fiercely that they have grown wings.
There is an older, wiser, and more layered perspective than previous albums. It has taken a seat at the back of a smokey room and quietly observed the world. Able to clearly see societal divisions, it lays out how arbitrary, unnecessary, and damaging they are to all of us. Advocating harmony and tolerance, both sides of the coin are given voice, and a dove is offered in return for the same.
The musical landscape is bigger, broader, and more nuanced than hitherto. We have gypsy folk, country, and urban/country fusion. As a complete sucker for a waltz tempo, I was delighted to hear it on more than one track, and played to great effect in ‘Epilogue’, swaying drunkenly and hitting dizzy heights, like being on an out-of-control fairground ride.
What I thought to be Spanish guitar is actually sneakily just your normal guitar, very cleverly played by one Ren Stedman, who also brings a very welcome piano into the mix. The mournful keyboards and minor chord fiddle on ‘Call Off The Dogs’ are a feast for the ears.
‘You Keep Coming’ is gleefully bawdy, and had me grinning from ear to ear. This is without doubt the subsequent crowd anthem to ‘Get Off My Tits’, and one that should be sung at earsplitting volume! Coining a whole new word, mistressbation, it’s not only funny, it has a serious point to make about female sexuality, the policing, the joy, and autonomy of it.
You’re not supposed to have favourites, but I do, unapologetically. There are two absolute stand-out tracks for me. Drenched in poetry worthy of Mr Cohen himself, ‘Tooth’ and ‘Epilogue’ are songs that I could listen to over and over again. And I did. Because as with all good poetry, there are complex layers of interpretation, more meaning is wrought from each listen, and they are aurally sumptuous. Metaphor and allegory are used to great effect in Tooth, and are woven through a waltz tempo, via the strings of beautifully wrought banjo and mournful violin.
In sum, then, I would argue that this is their best album so far. It represents a huge leap forward creatively, and when you consider how it was recorded, its cohesion is deeply impressive.
With non-judgmental lessons for us all, a smattering of role reversal, satire, raucousness and reclamation of autonomy, as well as fistfuls of musical and lyrical talent, this album can hold its head up high and take up space, and I recommend you get yourselves a copy.
It is available from https://muddysummers.bandcamp.com
by Laura Taylor – Poet
When Gail told me that most of the songs here had not been played together before recording and that this album had been recorded live DIY style in four different parts of the country, I thought ‘Well, that’s interesting….’
Then I recalled that The Clash recorded their first album in less than three weeks with minimal rehearsals and a tight budget and that turned out pretty well….
So, just how did psychopaths and other tails turn out ? Well, the first thing that struck me was the very high quality of musicianship on this album. Gail had assembled a great group of musicians with the multi-talented – multi instrumentalist Ren Stedman showcasing his many skills, Lizzie Morris from Morris and Watson picking up fiddle duties and Aimee Bee taking care of percussion and some backing vocals. Also supporting on some backing vocals those lovely chaps from Slack Mallard. The result is a collection of excellent songs that put me just a little in mind of The Antiquated and the Arcane album by 3 Daft Monkeys in style. In my opinion that’s a great album, so that is certainly no bad thing at all.
Now, it is not my intent to give an in-depth critique of every song on this fine album, but rather an attempt to give an overall feel for the album. However, one cannot do that without mentioning a few of the songs on offer here….
Things get underway with ‘Not OK’ which has a very upbeat tune with lilting guitar and some lovely harmony vocals on the chorus although the lyric is much darker than the tune suggests, and it works really well. Next up, ‘Bank’ begins with an ominous double bass leading into a fiddle driven track extolling the non-virtues of our banking institutions and offering some interesting insight into the way they operate to the detriment of normal folk. What’s not to like I thought. Well, next up is ‘You Keep Coming’. When I heard the opening lyric I was intrigued, ‘There’s a
hidden place few get to see, in a forest that grows naturally, in the valley of two mountains,’ I wondered where this place was ? Turns out be something far removed from what I was thinking as the song is actually about, yes, wanking !! An at times hilarious take on that age-old activity over a very light-hearted soundtrack. All I can is say is that at least by the end of the song nothing had fallen off, nobody had gone blind or for that matter gone to Hell !!
Call off the Dogs is lovely piano driven track with great percussion and fiddle driving some dark lyrics and also has some lovely harmony vocals on the chorus. Old Elvis is an insightful microcosm of life on a council estate back in the day and drawing comparisons with the modern day and even namechecks Jeremy Corbyn and features some excellent Cajun style banjo.
Hi Viz is a great take on those individuals who seem to go a power trip as soon as they pull on said item of clothing. In fairness Gail does mention that they do have a job to do – but it’s a matter of how you do that job. I am sure most of us have encountered such an individual at a festival, sporting event or even protest march, and so would likely appreciate the sentiment, ‘Tuck your superiority complex rants, back in your inadequate underpants and kindly.. fuck off’. It should not be overlooked that this is a good tune as well !!
Glass Houses is another piano/guitar driven tune with a very pleasing melody and Lizzie’s fiddle is tinged with sadness and another chorus with some lovely harmony vocals. Reasons features some very thoughtful and insightful lyrics about the divisions in our society and the attitudes and lack of empathy of so many all sung over an ethereal fiddle from Lizzie. Parody features some really tight banjo with an almost rap style chorus asking if the government knows best ? It actually reminded me of Roger Waters lyric on The Wall album – ‘Mother, should I trust the government ?’ This song answers the question in no uncertain terms !!
On the face of it ‘Nice Arse’ is a banjo driven comedic take on sexual stereotypes and predators, but listen a little deeper and some serious issues are actually being addressed here with some very poignant lyrics at the end of the song, ‘Ask yourself if you would like to see your mother treated like that, you got no class’. The curtain is brought down with the appropriately titled ‘Epilogue’ featuring fiddle and harpsichord and is a fine album closer.
Hopefully this gives you, dear reader, an insight into this fine album and all it remains for me to do is to wish Gail and her team every success with the album launch at the coming Sistafest. So, whether you are at Sistafest or online, go, on, get a copy of this CD, you know you want to….
You won’t be disappointed !!
Muddy Summers and The Dirty Field Whores have been a moveable feast for some years now, but over the last two they’ve had a consistently all-female line up and, it has to be said, it is their best and most successful incarnation by far. Hailing from the Forest of Dean and Nottingham and fronted by the irrepressible Gail Something Else (she of the wonderfully anarchic Something Else festivals), this radical feistyfolkpunkpop band are in their prime, and their second album, From Seeds, is a refreshing slice of female perspective bursting at the seams with confidence and strength.
With irresistibly catchy rhythms and urgent poetry, sweet and mournful fiddle, haunting flute, impudent melodica, and a driving cajon, it’s a big two-fingered salute to patriarchy, monarchy, ‘normality’, arbitrary inequality and to every ‘ism’ and ‘ist’ you could care to list.
Fearlessly, the songs address issues such as abortion, breastfeeding (and rejection of the social stigma of), the worries and responsibilities of motherhood in these fraught and worrying times, the taint and disparity of capitalism, the endless misogyny that should surely have run its course by now, and the pisstaking price we pay as women who bleed.
You may find yourself swaying, laughing, nodding in recognition and despair, your hackles and goosebumps raised in solidarity. There’s every chance you’ll be singing along at the top of your voice to the more anthemic festival favourites.
From Seeds is sombre, provocative, and threatening. It is conciliatory, resigned, and then filled with fire and hope again. It stands as a musical blueprint for the difference between right and wrong, and how we can best get along without actually hurting anyone or making them feel somehow less.
This is an album for everyone, not ‘just’ women. It’s for brothers and sons, dads and nannas, mothers and sisters. And it’s for all of our daughters, too.
The album is available from https://muddysummers.bandcamp.com
by Laura Taylor
‘To paraphrase Oasis, whatever you expect of this album – it’s not!
Seeing Red (& Black), the most recent pressed album to come from Muddy Summers and the Dirty Field Whores is an album full of surprises – and one you need in your musical collection.
The “grrrrl” band that started out as a collaboration project, features Gail Something-Else, Tez Roberts, Aimee Bee and Suzy Condrad on a variety of instruments including stick bass, baritone uke, melodica, guitar, and El Cajon. For this album, they are joined by Hellen Bach on flute and Mel Rogers from Tarantism on whistle.
If you were expecting an invitation to a tea party hosted by The Raincoats and Crass then think again! Although the girls are singing about all things social and political that matter to them, and some of the content is not for the faint-hearted or Daily Mail reader, this album does not feel the need to growl before it bites.
To set you a scene, imagine it’s the mid 1960’s, you are walking down the West Bank of the Seine and you pop into a smoky cafe for a coffee and brandy. The atmosphere is thick with political debate, in the far corner sit a group of bohemian looking women playing music.
Fronting this sound are the mellifluous tones of Gail’s vocals. There’ a hint of female crooner about them that is simple and charming, a sort of politicised Dusty Springfield; infuse a hybrid between that and Hazel O’Connor meets Lily Allen and you could be getting close.
The production of the album is ridiculously crisp and clean considering it was recorded in a cow shed – no, seriously, it was – for which Jeremy Paul Carroll deserves much applause. He has put The First Lady of Confrontation’s vocals centre stage, where they belong, and wrapped them up in the warm tones of the flute and melodica.
There are echoes of traditional folk running right through the album that is a melange drawing on left-bank swing, Balkan gypsy dance, jazz waltz fusion and cowgirl reggae-hop. From the opening lines of Seeing Red, which sets out the political position of the band quite clearly, the album continues in an almost dreamy landscape that covers broken relationships, failed political promises and the despising of monarchy and capitalists. Gail’s words come from the heart and her compositions are obviously influenced by the sounds she heard at home and in concert halls as a young woman – which is no bad thing if you appreciate intelligent musical construction.
As with all artists, you can tell which pieces mean the most to them. So when you have listened to and enjoyed the rousing tirades of Between Your Legs (So we’ll sing for our sisters, our daughters and our mothers), Landgrabber (landgrabber .. you don’t impress me. Power and greed equals inadequacy) and sung along to the anthemic eponymous Dirty Field Whore, take the time to sit down and listen in detail to the heart-wrenching joy that is Bag Full of Holes (Time doesn’t heal, it just offers you a deal. Nothing to lose, Just the risk of one more bruise) before settling in your chair and wallowing in the delight of When Goodbye Was Some Other Day, a song so beautifully sung that you could be forgiven for not wanting to suture the deep wounds whose blood fed the words being sung.’
Graham Parker, Macstock
Seeing Red (& black) is available from the online shop, iTunes etc. or listen online at Reverbnation.
Review from The Sound of Summer of our new single/video that’s coming out at Midnight tonight!
Conventional wisdom dictates that we become more conservative as we age. Let me tell you that is not the case for me or indeed for many of the amazing people I spend my summers with at the numerous music festivals I attend.
Admittedly many of those who inhabit the world I live in during the UK summer were probably sitting comfortably at the anarchistic end of the political spectrum to begin with. As I and many of my friends have come to realise the “system” is geared to make the rich richer and to support privilege and the class system.
Sitting right at the top of this rotten and corrupt system sits Queen Elizabeth and her bloodsucking inbred family. Royalty is the epitome of the class system a system that rewards unearned privilege on the backs of the poor. A system that benefits the 1% at the expense of the…
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Due for release on 23rd April.
Pre-ordering helps us make it happen. Ta muchly for your support!
So we’ve finally become a band..and a girl band at that!
Aimee’s been regularly slapping her cajon with the DFWs for a fair old while now, and Tez has donned corsets and belted out backing vocals more than once, but she’s now also playing guitar. We’ve also been joined by the beautifully talented Helen on flute, and I’m plucking stick bass as well as singing and ranting into the mic.
As we all live in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, rehearsing is also possible, and is proving to be a stupid amount of fun..to the point where I take back everything I’ve ever said about being in bands. It’s also sounding alright.
I’ve been writing words like a loon since Zmas Day. I really need to thank the Queen for whacking her plunger on my writer’s block. I don’t do Christmas, so I was surfing the interweb in the afternoon and saw an article about ode Madge wearing a fur coat to their private service that morning. I thought (among other things)..
‘All fur coat and no knickers? Ewww. Pass the mindbleach, Lil!’ In my head, it quickly turned into ‘The Queen is all fur coat and incontinence knickers.’ Well, she is nearly 90. I’d say the odds were fair. I did get a bollocking off my 83 year old Mum for that line though.
I checked out her speech, got even more annoyed, wrote a poem called 3pm, stuck a tune to it, recorded it on webcam and fired it up onto good ode Facebook, figuring a few of my mates might be entertained by it..
Over 26,000 views later?!!
Ok, not everyone liked it. There were mutters about treason and how my entire family should be shot. I’m glad I only played it on a baritone uke an’ all, as it’s a lot smaller than the guitar that one bloke wanted to shove up my arse. Big up the satire police! Check it out if ye like..
Anyway, we’re recording a band version of it in early February (in the grounds of a manor house..ha!) and also a video here in the Forest on Sat 27th Feb. Come and be in it if you like. Then we’re going to release it just before the her 90th birthday.
We haven’t put a single out there since ‘Cameron, I Would Call You a Cunt’ in 2012. It got to #99 in the iTunes singer/songwriter charts, which means nowt, except it paid for the next album and chucked a few quid into some grassroots causes..and making the video was ridiculous fun! We’ll also be putting out a new album, ‘Seeing Red (and Black)’ in the Spring. Most of the songs are brand new, and the rest are ones that we’ve gigged acoustically, but they’ve only ever been recorded with electronic music.
Big up the Ladyfolk!
APATHY By Muddy Summers and the Dirty Field Whores
Having been privileged to have been given a sneak preview of some of the songs for Gail’s new album, Apathy, I was really looking forward to hearing the finished product and I have to say I have not been disappointed.
Unlike the last Muddy Summers album, Monkey on my Back, which was very eclectic in nature, this latest offering is quite different. The cover probably gives away the sentiments contained in the albums lyrics, but does not give much of a clue to the musical delights contained within. Yes, the album is overtly political, but very much in the style of the best protest singers and poets down the years.
Musically, it is very much in the style of traditional folk and protest screams from the lyric sheet. That said there is also a feeling of underlying sadness that comes out in the delivery and Gail’s vocal while certainly driving home the message manages to sound vulnerable at the same time, in a way which is very endearing.
The opening track ‘To Land’ does not actually prepare you for what is to follow. It is in fact a reggae based acoustic number that has a very upbeat feel about it despite the lyric intimating that nothing much changes down the years. The whistled outro is a delight and just leaves you with a smile on your face.
As The Dragon Runs, takes the mood down a notch or two and opens with an almost ethereal whistle courtesy of Jay Terrestrial that sets the stage for a song that explores the destruction wreaked by the system and people burying their heads in the sand as the dragon runs leaving flames and cinders in its wake. Powerful, stuff indeed.
Tony Hopkins excellent guitar sets the tone for Empathy, a song that really does explore the true nature of empathy and it’s hard not to shed a tear when Gail sings about the old man who has lost his wife and Tony’s guitar evokes real sadness. One forms the impression that Gail bases a lot of her songs on personal experiences and the lyrics come straight from the heart and in very raw form. For me this just adds to the poignancy of the song.
Dai Blow’s Melodica makes a nice easy intro for Conspiraloon, and the whole delivery of this song is very laid back and pleasant with hints of cow bells and a lyric that does what it says on the tin. In fact you could make an argument for adding the word Conspiraloon to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Dai Blow features again on Cry of the Thwarted Bigot, this time with a jazz influenced clarinet hovering over Buzz Onion’s reggae based guitar riff while Gail vents her spleen on bigots and bigotry while encouraging people to stop misdirecting their anger. Again a very poignant song with some great echoes coming to the fore in the outro.
Next up is Ignition, performed by just Gail and the Inimitable Doozer McDooze playing the multi instrumental card on what is musically and lyrically a very, very good song featuring some fine keyboards and guitars and an almost desperate vocal delivery from Gail, that makes this a very powerful song indeed.
Dai Blow is back on melodica for Passive Aggressive a song featuring some clever lyrical delivery. The excellent Tony Hopkins returns on guitar for What do we tell our Children and Dai again is featured, this time on whistle, which again gives an almost ethereal feel to what is as much a story song as a song with a message for future generations. Everything from Stop and Search to fracking gets the treatment here.
Domestic Terrorist is grim stuff indeed. Starting with the all too familiar story of a man who feeds the fumes from his exhaust into his car because he can’t support his family and moving on to the recent story of those lads who were prosecuted for taking discarded food from a skip. This is a song that makes you sit up and think for sure.
Open eyes is another duet between Gail and Doozer that works well as always. Another folk song with a reggae influence that actually keeps the mood quite upbeat, Swimming to another beginning with these open eyes……..
The album closer is not a new song and has been around for a while in one form or another. In this guise it stands out as totally different musically from the rest of the album. It is in fact collaboration with Rev Dread that produces a kind of electro folk hybrid that actually works rather well. The song features one of Gail’s favourite words and no one escapes the treatment here, Cameron, Osborne, Smith, Gove, Hunt, May et al are all subject to Gail’s vitriol bringing the album to an appropriate finish
So in conclusion, Gail has written some very good and very potent songs here and delivered it all with some real top notch musicians. All in all an album that is musically very mature and highly listenable with a good production that still keeps the raw feel of the music alive. All delivered with lyrical potency of a Glasgee Kiss. Do yourself a big favour and get a copy of this fine album.
You can listen to and buy it here, or pay what you want for the download – BUY THE ALBUM
I also asked Gail a few questions about it…..
Gail, The title of the new album is ‘Apathy’ what was the thinking behind that?
It’s really ‘Fuck Apathy’ but there are only so many releases you can have the fuckword in, right? Hence the artwork.
As with your previous work a number of the songs draw upon personal experiences, that seems to be the case with some of the songs here as well?
I can only write about what I see or feel. The words come out in rant form and in one hit, about whatever happens to be making my shit itch at the time. They get edited if they need to fit a tune a bit better, but other than that, they’re raw and from the gut. I guess that makes them all personal in a way.
You have used a number of different musicians on this album and yet you still seem to obtain a very cohesive sound across the whole album…
I am immensely lucky to have so many proper talented musicians up for working with me. I say what kind of feel I’m looking for, and maybe send words if they’re already written, and they just get it, even if it’s not their ‘thing’.
Your last album was very eclectic in nature whereas this album has a more traditional folk style feel about it, was that a conscious decision or did it just turn out that way?
It was very deliberate. I love the accidental diversity of the Monkey on my Back album, but I grew up as part of a big family feeding me so many musical influences which only really excluded folk and jazz. I sort of claimed folk as my own, and protest songs seem to sit best with it, I guess. Now I just need a beard to stroke.
The album is obviously very overtly political and that comes across in the lyrics, but there is also an underlying feeling that had a lot of fun making the album?
Ah, we always have fun. Everything is either recorded in my living room (often after a few ales) or music and vocal lines are exchanged via the wonders of the internet. It’s not massively produced and there’s no desire for perfection. Seems to be what works best for us.
Obviously you have at least three ‘Something Else’ events this plus the Tea Tent will be at the likes of Bearded Theory, is it your intent to showcase these songs at those festivals?
Definitely! Nowt wrong with a bit of self-indulgence, especially when surrounded by so much talent in a field!
Last Year you enjoyed success with Muddy Summers on the Cider and Sanity Tour. With everything else you have on your plate this year, is there a possibility of an Apathy Tour?
Yeah, though not til the Autumn/Winter. This is my most manic year to date!
The Album closer has appeared in many different guises over the years, but this one is in stark contrast to the rest of the album, was there a particular reason for doing it that way?
I like the last track on an album to have impact. Rev Dread has also been one of my more regular collaborators (we ended up doing a whole electro album together) so I wanted him on there somewhere. It’s still a folk song, just a more inyerface version.
History has thrown up many protest singers and bands over the years, From Woodie Guthrie to The Levellers. Clearly music cannot change the world but how important do you think it is to keep sending out that message?
I think any form of protest is vital, whether music based or otherwise, and I truly believe we’d be a lot more fucked than we are now without it. Listening to the likes of Guthrie, Billy Bragg and Bob Dylan when I was young played a huge part in politicising me. It’s also an amazing way to bring likeminded folks together which in turn helps shit get done, even if it does just come down to stopping the vile, acidic pissing down on us from above getting worse.
Finally, Gail what are your plans for Muddy Summers moving ahead into the future?
Well, it’d be nice to not have stuff to rant and sing about, but history and reality suggest that fighting this shit is infinite, so we might just step out of the collaboration ethic and form a proper band and rehearse and all that. But then again we might not.. x