Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mr Fox: The Ballad of Neddy Dick

So here is the first of what will be probably several Sunday video choices inspired by the book Electric Eden.

Mr Fox was a short-lived but distinctive folk rock group centred on Bob Pegg and Carole Pegg. Its fame rests upon two LPs - Mr Fox (1970) and The Gipsy (1971) - but if you follow those links you will see that both the Peggs have enjoyed interesting musical careers since the group broke up in 1972.

In Electric Eden Rob Young writes:
Bob and Carole modelled the group's instrumental palette on the combinations of strings, woodwinds and wind organs found in the village harvest-home and church bands of the Yorkshire Dales, where Bob had conducted folklore research and field recordings in the mid-1960s.
Mr Fox's Gothic guignol concentrated the energy of Dalesmen's country dances and the spookiness of British lore within convincing reproductions of antique song.
Another interesting point is that after Ashley Hutchings left Fairport Convention he spent some time with the Peggs and they rather expected him to join them. Instead he went off to found Steeleye Span and pursue other projects.

Young suggests that Hutchings was not uninfluenced by Mr Fox:
Listening to Mr Fox's version of "House Carpenter" (1971) next to The Albion Country Band's "Poor Murdered Woman (same year), or their "Ballad of Neddy Dick" (1970) and "Dancing Song" (1971) back to back with Hutching's electric versions of country dance on Morris On (1972) and The Compleat Dancing Master (1974), it's easy to understand why the Peggs might have been aggrieved at the time.
The albums Mr Fox and The Gipsy have been reissued on a single CD as Join Us In Our Game.

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