Music you can’t live without #1

Nic Jones

Top of the list of musicians whose cannon makes life worth living has to be the fantastic folk singer, guitarist , fiddler and all round genius Nic Jones.

His career was tragically cut short following an accident in 1982, but in his recording career he produced some incredible records, arguably re-invented fingerstyle guitar and continues to be a huge influence on generations of musicians.

If you’re interested in the back story there’s a great article by Mike Raven here

The solo albums are hard to get hold of due to an issue over rights. The whole thing has been gone over in detail here

They are all well worth a listen.

Ballads and songs 1970

My copy of a warped vinyl recording has the added bonus of a periodic hiss, but even with this a fantastic record. The guitar style on these first two albums is rather different from the percussive style which Nic used to such great effect on Penquin Eggs.

Stand out tracks:

Sir Patrick Spens
William and Nancy’s Parting
The two brothers

Nic Jones 1971

Similar in style to Ballads and Songs. Trad folk songs with non-trad arrangements.

Stand out tracks:

Annan Water
The outlandish knight

The Noah’s Ark trap 1977

Probably my favourite album, some great guitar and fiddle on this.

Stand out tracks:

Ten Thousand Miles
The Golden glove
Miles Weatherhill
Isle of France
Annachie Gordon  (Look out for the John Hegley poem inspired by this)

From the devil to a stranger 1978

Noah’s Ark has merged tracks and the theme continues on this album.

Stand out tracks:

Billy Don’t you weep for me
Master Kilby

Penquin eggs 1980

The best known album simply because it is the only studio album currently available. That said, it deserves the recognition.

Stand out tracks:

Planxty Davis
Farewell to the gold
Barrack Street

In search of Nic Jones 1999

This collection of archive and unreleased material includes some great material.

Standout tracks:

Seven yellow gypsies
Lord Franklin
Hardiman the fiddler
Teddy bears picnic (this was used in the BBC film ‘our day out’ which is worth a watch too.

Unearthed 2001

A 2cd set with more unreleased tracks, including versions of some of the classics above. The quality on some isn’t as good as the original studio versions, but still well worth getting, especially if you can’t get hold of the early albums.

Stand out tracks:

Boots of spanish leather
Billy don’t you weep for me
Annachie Gordon
Clyde water
Wanton seed
ten thousand Miles

Game set match 2006

A collection of live performances from the late 70’s when Nic was at the top of his game.

Standout tracks:

Seven Yellow Gypsies
Flanders shore
Billy don’t you weep for me

‘Penquin eggs’ , ‘In search of’, ‘Unearthed’ and ‘Game set match’ are available by mail order from Mollie Music . Click here now and buy them.

Many have tried to imitate Nic’s playing, most don’t come close. Sam Carter’s rendition of Canadee-i-o is the best i’ve heard. Enjoy

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