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Parallel Lives
New McTell biography

Folk Cottage Reunion
Concert on DVD

About Time
New CD by Ralph & Wizz

Recent Additions

2016 Autumn Tour Reviews

Mornington Crescent

Belfast Memories




Backstage with James Taylor 2003


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 Ralph, Albert & Sydney
A Ralph McTell Fansite
The Front Page

The new Ralph McTell biography

Welcome to this Ralph McTell Fansite

Please use the menu at the top of each page to find your way around.

On this site you will find Articles, Reviews and Interviews on Ralph McTell and his music, and a comprehensive Discography.

Please let me know if you have any articles, interviews or reviews from publications such as Melody Maker, Sounds, New Musical Express and Folk Roots, or any stories from the national and local press.

If you would like to add your own
Fan's Review of a Ralph McTell concert you have attended, or of a favourite McTell album, please email it to me and I'll add it to the appropriate page.

I try to keep the
Tour News page up to date. I also send out short email updates from time to time, with news of TV and radio appearances, tour amendments etc. If you would like to receive these updates, please let me know your current email address.

Please feel free to leave a message on the Guestbook. You can also use this to ask any questions on Ralph's music or recordings - if I don't know the answer, I probably know a man who does!

John Beresford

Stan and Ollie dance on this page because Ralph is a big fan!

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"Parallel Lives: The Biographies of Ralph McTell", by Michael Grenfell

The public interview from which this book was written was recorded in 2012 - see Artist Biography Project - An Evening with Ralph McTell

Michael Grenfell writes in his Foreword that this book "will interest those who have appreciated and continue to appreciate the work of Ralph McTell." It’s not a beginner's guide. But if you already 'get' McTell, read the 'Biography at Work' sections, which expertly set Ralph's song lyrics in the contexts of his artistic and social 'biographies'. For those who "appreciate the work of Ralph McTell", they make illuminating reading.

The 'Creativity Interludes', on the other hand, have a distinctly academic tone. In writing McTell's 'biographies' Grenfell employs "an epistemological view derived from the French social philosopher Pierre Bourdieu." Again, if you 'get' Bourdieu - or even epistemology - read on. The 'Interludes' consider McTell's life and work from a series of parallel perspectives - his upbringing, influences, the world at large, etc - and place them in Bourdieu's world of field, habitus, doxa and capital. I found the Wikipedia article on Bourdieu helpful in my attempt to understand these terms; but Grenfell quotes McTell as saying, in relation to these theoretical interludes, “I don't get it” and “It is beyond me”. Grenfell himself seems to expect this response, as twice he asks what these interludes have "to do with Ralph McTell". His answers propose links between the theory and the life (lives), but you will have to judge for yourself if they answer the question. "Any one reader of this text will take from it what they can", writes Grenfell.

So don't worry if you don't 'get it' either - just skip to the next chapter. As for me, I just dig the music, man.

And it's Grenfell's fascinating treatment of McTell's music (his product) that makes this book for me. We are taken on a journey through McTell's formative post-war years, with stop-overs along the way to consider what and who might have influenced his song-writing, whether knowingly or subliminally. Grenfell discusses the political and artistic scenes and the people who inhabited them - Bentley and Craig, Sylvia Plath, Dylan Thomas; the 'folk revivals' in the UK and the States; jazz and the blues; and how Ralph May became Ralph McTell as their influence emerged in his tunes and songs.

Grenfell has obviously put a lot of effort into this study, and it seems churlish to point out the many editorial errors in the text - but it would be remiss of me to ignore them. An academic study of McTell’s life as told through his songs must surely take care to quote them with precision. Yet many of the song titles, lyrics and album citations are incorrect. Don’t let that put you off the story, though, as you "continue to appreciate the work of Ralph McTell".

Parallel Lives: The Biographies of Ralph McTell, by Michael Grenfell (Pomera Press, 2016), is available in a limited signed edition of 100 from Amazon.

Reviewed by John Beresford, August 2016.

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Mornington Crescent (it’s just off West 4th Street)

A bit of fun on social media: a political discussion I had with my daughter on Facebook during the 2016 UK Labour Party leadership debate was picked up by others who kept the story going…

Jane: Not that I've left it 'til tomorrow...
Me: Easy! Your go...
Jane: Somewhere down the road we might get democracy...
Me: It's a Journey worth Travelling, Man.
Jane: Maybe, but not sure if the spiral staircase leads to the top or bottom at the moment...
Me: England, oh England!
Jane: Terminus!
Me: Mornington Crescent!
Lesley: Now this has started!
Joe: And once a year Granny takes a trip!
Jackie: Around the wild Cape Horn
Jean: Surrounded by Easter lilies
Jan: and Summer Lightning ...
Linda: Whilst drinking Nettle Wine
Liz: and eating peppers and tomatoes
Liz: whilst conducting a Grand Affair
Linda: With the girl in the White dress
Me: Whom he met on the Jersey Ferry
Joe: by a Big Tree
Jackie: Like in Kew Gardens
Jan: A Weeping Willow
Linda: Then came summer lightning
Me: Repetition!
Linda: Oh no, I will have to think again.
Linda: Here goes, they were watching the Old Brown Dog playing in the Red and Gold leaves
Jackie: After rain
Liz: Still in Dreams
Liz: wondering what will happen Somewhere down the road
Me: Sorry Liz, repetition of SDTR. Try again...
Robin: I'd love to contribute to this but any effort from me will make me look like a Clown.
David: Better than looking like a factory girl.
Me: She's a kind hearted woman
Liz: Ok for my next effort. . . In England 1914 I met Naomi, a Girl from the hiring fair, at the fairground, where we watched Maddie dancing to the Maginot waltz. The Easter Lilies were in bloom under the silver birch and weeping willow. After rain, with the river rising we saw the barges sailing down stream. Although she was a sweet mystery to me in some way I loved her but they were words I couldn't say. I just hope she lets me down easy and waits until the snow comes.
Jean: I think that you win hands down!! Well done.

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"The Folk Cottage at Mitchell Reunion 2015"

A DVD of the 2015 Folk Cottage Reunion is available now. It includes performances by Ralph, Wizz Jones, Pete Berryman and others. For details please email Mic McCreadie.

Catalogue number: WIODVD0034M
Issued: June 2016

Ralph sings Hesitation Blues and duets with Wizz on Honey Babe.

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"About Time"

In 1966 Wizz Jones invited Ralph to Cornwall to play with him at the now legendary Folk Cottage. They recently decided it was about time they recorded an album together. So they have...

Catalogue number: TPGCD37
Issued on: 17 June 2016

Track list:

Honey Babe Blues
Out of the Snow
You're Gonna Quit Me Baby
Deportees (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)
You Won't Let Me Go
Diamond Joe
Old Rattler's Pup
If I Needed You
Tell Her You Love Her Right Now
Abandoned Love
When You're Gone
Morning Blues
I Never Did Sing You a Lovesong

"About Time" is on sale in Ralph's webshop.

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"Songs For Six Strings 5th - A"

The fifth 'string' of Ralph's "Songs For Six Strings" boxed set, representing the '5th - A' string, is on sale in Ralph's webshop. The first four CDs, for the '1st - E', '2nd - B', '3rd-G' and '4th - D' strings, are still available. Eventually there will be six CDs, one for each guitar string, and each with live recordings of six McTell songs. The CDs are also available at Ralph's gigs but not from other outlets.

Catalogue number: TPGCD A5
Issued on: 17 January 2016

Track list:

Little Actress
Red Sky

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‘Songs For Six Strings’ Poll - Last Chance to Vote!

Ralph’s on-going ‘Songs for Six Strings’ series started in 1996 with the release of a CD ‘recorded live straight from the desk’, somewhat intriguingly called ‘Songs for Six Strings Volume 2’. The mystery was solved the following year with the reissue on CD of Ralph’s first ‘live’ LP from 1976, ‘Ralph Albert & Sydney’, as ‘Songs for Six Strings Volume 1’.

The title was also used for Roger Brown’s book of tab and notation transcriptions of Ralph’s songs and tunes, which was first published in 2002.

Ralph is currently working on a boxed set of six CDs of six live performances, each CD representing one of the six strings of Ralph’s guitar. The first five CDs, ‘E1’ (representing the first, E, string), ‘B2’, 'G3', 'D4' and 'A5', have now been released. Each CD comprises six live takes from recent concert performances. The set is due to be completed with 'E6' later in 2016.

The 2001 Songs for Six Strings Poll

In 2001 we ran a website poll to find which songs folk would like to feature on future ‘Songs for Six Strings’ releases. The poll resulted in 50 titles being suggested, many with specific concert performances in mind. Remarkably, about half of the suggested titles have now appeared on audio or video releases – for details, see Songs for Six Strings Poll 2001 – The Results (…we were only 11 years late with the announcement!)

New Poll for Boxed Set Tracks

The question now is – which songs would you like Ralph to include on the final ‘Songs For Six Strings’ CD? Maybe you have fond memories of a specific performance from Ralph’s recent tours. Or perhaps you’d like Ralph to revisit an old favourite during a forthcoming concert.

If you Email your suggestions I will add them to the Songs For Six Strings Poll 2016 page. I can’t promise anything, but you might find the definitive live version of your favourite McTell song featured on a future CD - or even DVD!

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"70th Birthday Concert"

Ralph's 70th birthday concert at the Theatre Royal in London's Drury Lane was filmed and is now available on DVD from Ralph's webshop.

Catalogue number: TPGDVD70
Issued on: 13 November 2015

For the set list see the Fans' reviews page.

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Ralph McTell signed Epiphone J200 Jumbo sold by auction

A guitar donated and signed by Ralph has raised £800 for the charity Fight for Sight.

Fight for Sight is a national charity that enables vital research to be done to help in the treatment and prevention of sight loss in many important eye conditions.

As many of you will know many of Ralph’s musical heroes were blind. Reverend Gary Davis played a Gibson J200. Ralph himself also played an Epiphone J300 a couple of years ago at the Cropredy festival. This is a lovely instrument and it has Ralph’s signature as well!

The Epiphone EJ200CE Electro Cutaway features a select spruce top, maple body and a bound, set maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard. The neck profile is comfortable with fret board crown inlays, while the bound body/top/neck, striking inlaid Moustache bridge, plus gold hardware make this guitar a delight to play.

Thanks to Ralph for donating the guitar, to all who entered bids and especially to the generous winner!

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"The Unknown Soldier"

Leola Music has reissued "The Unknown Soldier" CD with two additional tracks - the title track recorded live at Ralph's 70th birthday concert, and a CD-Extra video of that performance. The original four-song EP was released in the centenary year of the start of the first world war but already anticipating its end four years later. Ralph says in the CD insert, "These songs written over the fifty years of my career are an attempt to evoke the final loss of innocence we experienced as a nation".

Catalogue number: TPGCD 11-11-11
Originally issued on: 10 November 2014
Reissued on: 4 June 2015

Track list:

The Lamplighter (England 1914 June 28th)
Maginôt Waltz
The Unknown Soldier

Additional tracks on reissue:

The Unknown Soldier - recorded live at The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 7 December 2014
The Unknown Soldier - CD-Extra video recording of the Drury Lane performance.

The CD-Extra video is a 'hidden track' that will play only on a PC or Mac. It plays best if you copy the file to your hard drive.

"The Unknown Soldier" is on sale in Ralph's webshop.

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"Jake Thackray and Songs"

The Jake Thackray Project has released a DVD of Jake's 1981 BBC TV series 'Jake Thackray and Songs', which includes a guest spot by Ralph. The DVD is available from Amazon.

Catalogue number: JTP04
Issued on: 4 October 2014

Includes live performances of 2 songs by Ralph

Song for Martin
Water of Dreams

and a snippet of the audience joining in on Streets of London.

Ralph and Jake had appeared on the same bill in folk clubs and several TV shows, and, when Jake died in 2002, Ralph wrote this tribute.

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"Celtic Cousins"

Ralph released a CD of Celt-themed songs to coincide with his 2014 'Celtic Cousins' tour. It was available at the gigs and is now on sale in Ralph's webshop.

Catalogue number: TPGCD36
Issued on: 30 April 2014

Track List:

Mermaid and the Seagull - from 'Songs for Six Strings Vol II' (1996)(recorded live, 1992)
Cannabis Creek - from 'Somewhere Down the Road' (2010)
Break of the Union - from 'Somewhere Down the Road' (2010)
Tangle o' the Isles - from 'Musical Tour of Scotland' (Billy Connolly, 1995)
The Islands - from 'Musical Tour of Scotland' (Billy Connolly, 1995)
An Irish Blessing - from 'Sand in Your Shoes' (1995)
The Setting - from 'Bridge of Sighs' (1986)
Mr Connaughton - from 'The Ralph McTell Collection' (1982)
From Clare to Here - from 'Right Side Up' (1976)
The Grey Sea Strand - from 'The Ralph McTell Collection' (1982)
The Irish Girl - from 'The Boy With a Note' (1992)
Wonderful Country - from 'The Boy With a Note' (1992)
Nettle Wine - from 'Ralph, Albert & Sydney' (CD, 1997)(recorded live, 1976)

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"Travelling Man" and "Alphabet Zoo" Reissued

Leola Music Ltd has repackaged the "Travelling Man" live set, recorded at the Purcell Room in 1998. The running order of the songs has been adjusted to match the actual performance. Sub-titled "Ralph McTell Live at the South Bank", the double CD is on sale in Ralph's webshop.

Catalogue number: TPGCD16
Re-released 2012

"Alphabet Zoo" has also been repackaged, with a new cover designed by Peter Thaine, and the CD re-released for a new generation in the 30th anniversary year of the ITV programme. The CD is on sale in Ralph's webshop.

Catalogue number: TPGCD20
Re-released 2013

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Artist Biography Project - An Evening with Ralph McTell

Ralph gave a delightful interview-with-a-difference at Trinity College, Dublin, in November 2012. Ralph had been invited to be the first subject of the Arts in Education Research Group’s ‘Artist Biography Project’. Interviewed by music education lecturer Marita Kerin, Ralph illustrated his responses with anecdotes and songs from his life. The whole event was filmed and you can see it on You Tube.

Ralph says, “Unfortunately the lighting was poor but the evening was special.” It lasts over two hours, so pick a quiet time and enjoy!

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Sold by Auction - Signed Manuscript of "Old Brown Dog"

A rare collectible Ralph McTell manuscript, specially written and signed by Ralph, has raised £250 for the charity Fight for Sight.

Ralph very generously donated a signed manuscript of one his best-loved songs, "Old Brown Dog", to be sold by auction to the highest bidder, with all proceeds going to the charity.

The idea for the auction came from Dr Mike Cohen, a GP and Ralph fan from Bristol. Mike writes, "There is an inherited condition in my family called choroideremia. It affects the male side of the family and causes degeneration of the retina. This leads to night blindness and gradual sight loss. Recent research has identified the faulty gene and a trial is currently taking place around the UK to see if gene therapy may arrest the progress of the condition and save sight. Affected individuals have surgery to detach the retina and the gene is injected in a viral carrier into the back of the eye. It is early days but results seem very encouraging."

Very many thanks to Ralph and to all who entered bids. And congratulations to the generous winner and proud owner of the signed "Old Brown Dog" manuscript.

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"Sofa Noodling"

Ralph's has recorded a set of guitar instrumentals, and the resulting CD is on sale in Ralph's webshop. Ralph had a sofa installed in the studio so he could 'noodle' on his guitar as he does at home. The result is a collection of eleven newly-recorded tunes plus a live take from a recent concert performance and two tracks from earlier albums.

Catalogue number: TPGCD35
Issued on: 3 October 2012

Track List:

That'll do Babe
Winding Boy
Tickling the Trout - from 'National Treasure'
Leah's Favourite - from 'Blue Skies Black Heroes'
Barnes Morris
Chattanooga Choo Choo
Housewives' Choice
Aura Lee
Still in Dreams
Sleepy Time Blues
Pity the Boy
I'm Not Really Blue
John Lee
Anji & Lullaby of Birdland (medley) - Live recording

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"An English Heartbeat - London and England 2012"

Ralph compiled a promotional album of five songs on the theme of London and England for the Olympic year. "An English Heartbeat" was also the title of Ralph's 2012 UK tour. The album was briefly available online as a download, but it seems it was not intended for public release. Hands up if you managed to download it before it was withdrawn...

Track list:

England - New recording
Streeets of London - The 'Hit' single version from 1974
Barges - From 'Not Till Tomorrow'
Red and Gold - From 'The Journey'
The London Apprentice - From 'Somewhere Down the Road'

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"Don't Think Twice It's Alright"

Ralph compiled a download only album in celebration of Bob Dylan's 70th Birthday in 2011. "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" is available from iTunes, Amazon and other download sites. Three of the songs were newly-recorded for this release. The title track featured on BBC Radio 2's "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan - A Folk Tribute".

Track list:

Don't Think Twice (It's Alright) - New recording
Gates of Eden - From 'Gates of Eden' CD
Girl From the North Country - From 'Travelling Man' CD (Live recording)
To Ramona - From 'Gates of Eden' CD
I Want You - New recording
One Too Many Mornings - New recording

When you download the tracks, you will find that three of them have the wrong name. Track 2 is labelled 'Ramona', track 3 'Gates of Eden' and track 4 'Girl From The North Country Fair'. You can safely rename them in your iTunes or music folder.

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"Somewhere Down The Road"

This 2010 studio CD is on sale in Ralph's webshop.

Fans' Reviews

Catalogue number: TPGCD31
Issued on: 27 August 2010

Track list:

The London Apprentice
Reverend Thunder (Blind Faith)
Walk into the Morning
Around the Wild Cape Horn
The Ghost of Robert Johnson
The Break of the Union
Cannabis Creek
One Sunny Day (Aujourd'hui le Ciel est Bleu)
Moon June and a Cajun Tune
A Kiss in the Rain
The Girl on the Jersey Ferry
Lantern Slides
Somewhere Down the Road

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Ralph McTell's road crew for the 2012 'An English Heartbeat' UK tour

Tom (tour manager), Scott (sound engineer), Eduardo (merchandise)

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Ralph McTell - Backstage with James Taylor at the Brighton Centre, March 31st, 2003

Thanks to Iconic Music for this image. From left to right the shot features Ralph, Jacqui McShee (Pentangle), James Taylor, Dave Pegg (Fairport) and Gerry Conway (Fairport and Pentangle).

Please note this picture is © Rob Beattie. Please do not reproduce this image anywhere else without permission from Rob. Check out Rob's Web Site.

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