Friday, January 16, 2015

The Hermit - The Mountain Ash Band

Mountain Ash Band 1975 Ilkley Moor

The Mountain Ash Band were an electric folk band, in the style of perhaps of Steeleye Span, based in The Hermit - became a collectors piece in Progressive Music circles. and, for the purposes of this particular site, they do have a strong Coventry connection.
Ilkley in 1975 and their one and only limited edition album  -

Coventry Connection
In June 1973, while we were printing the very first issue of  Hobo - Coventry Music and Arts Magazine, Colin Cripps and Lynda Hardcastle (later of the Mountain Ash Band, were preparing The Willenhall Free Press for print also at the Left Centre bookshop in, Lower Ford Street, Coventry. The centre had a community Offset Litho which had been donated to the centre by Edward Thompson, author of  Making of the Working Class, who at the time was a Professor of historyWarwick University. Colin and Lyn were musicians, magazine editors and, I discovered live quite near to me in Willenhall, so naturally we became good friends and Colin and Lyn participated in the Hobo Workshop gigs at Holyhead Youth Centre (where the Specials and Selecter later began). They lived in a flat in Ivy Walk with their son and held regular soirees with poets, musicians and like minded people. Colin Cripps, who later authored the book Popular Music in the 20thC - Cambridge University Press 1988. Colin was an undergraduate at Warwick University, studying Literature at the time and they were both involved with a Community campaigning magazine The Willenhall Free Press and other forms of community activism.  One of the poets, from Ivy Walk was Ray King (Not to be confused with Ray King of the Ray King Soul band - also from Coventry). Ray went on to write the lyrics for the Mountain Ash Band's album - The Hermit. Colin and Lyn left Coventry in 1975 after Colin graduated and moved to Ilkley where they formed the Mountain Ash Band. Ultimately Colin was originally from Cambridge and Lynda from, I think, Filey in North Yorkshire. Lynda Hardcastle went on to sing with Grace Notes, featuring Maggie Boyle and Helen Hockenhull.

The MP3's for the Videos were supplied by Colin Cripps and were first featured on the Hobo Vox / Typepad site in 2007 and Colins background notes are still on that site - here

Line up of the Mountain Ash Band
Colin Cripps (Guitar / Research and original concept, music for songs) –
Ray King (Lyrics) 
Sean Mansley (Narration) 
Lynda Hardcastle (Vocals and Recorder)  
Alan Rose (Vocals and Whistle) 
Martin Carter (Vocals and Guitar) 
Geoff Bowen (Fiddle and Recorder)  
Graham Jones ( Bass, Vocals and Recorder) 
Kevin Slingsby (Drums).

Production and arrangements including traditional tunes by Mountain Ash Band.

The album was recorded on 13th and 14th December 1975 by Look Records at September Sound Studios, Golcar, Huddersfield, West Yorks. Mastering and sound on songs David Whitely. Sound on Narration George Parks, edited by Robert Whitely. Sleeve design and artwork Kevin Slingsby. Witches Bane Music.

Side One (The is also a  narrative before each track)
Stone on Stone.

Side Two
A Long Winter
Who Knows
I'll Sing For My Supper
The Outcast / Rebirth.

Bonus Tracks.
Colin Cripps supplied a few bonus tracks that were played live after the Hermit project as part of another project or from their next project 'wind over the borderland'. English Birds is an instrumental that never made it to the final album. You can hear these tracks directly here by clicking on them.
English Birds
Leading Lady / November
The Patient's Song

The Hermit - Mountain Ash Band - Side One from Coventry Music Scene on Vimeo.

The Hermit - Mountain Ash Band - side two from Coventry Music Scene on Vimeo.

Two of the bonus tracks have already found their way to youtube - Leading lady and November - so here they are are on youtube -

The Lyrics - by Ray King. 
Ray King - Lyricist
Colin Cripps says "When Ray King, a friend from Willenhall, visited I told him the folk tale and he tuned in immediately and came up with a great set of lyrics. They had no verse and chorus structure because Ray was a poet not a songwriter, but there was enough to work with."

"Job Senior was a hermit. There are many ways of being a hermit. It was only for a short time towards his later years that Job lived on Ilkley Moor away from other people. For most of his life Job was a hermit in a crowd. The facts of his life, as far as they are known, are narrated on this album. The songs are not an attempt at story telling; more a series of glimpses of his world as we imagine it would have been seen by Job at the crisis points of his life." From the album cover.
The Lyrics sheet that came with the album -

Note; You may need to save the lyric sheet graphics and enlarge them via the scroll button on your computer in order to read them.

Some links to background on The Hermit tale and Job Senior
"The old sign over the entrance to the Hermit Inn at Woodhead carries a picture of the eccentric Job Senior. Both Bogg and Speight in their books about Wharfedale written a century ago mention him. In his early days he had been a labourer, willing to do any job in Wharfedale." Read more here

The Hermit Inn, Moor road, Burley woodhead, ilkley, West Yorks, LS29 7AS

Colin Cripps 1975

Lynda Hardcastle

Lynda Hardcastle (Right) with Gracenotes

Colin Cripps book - available from Amazon