The B to A of Blowzabella. 1987
“The band went to Pathway Studios in North London on 12th April 1987 to record as many tunes as possible that are in the band’s first tune and dance book “Encyclopaedia Blowzabellica” (you can buy the book from the SHOP page). The idea was that this cassette only album was to be a cheap and cheerful accompaniment to the book. It was one 10 hour studio session so we worked fast, recording live to 2 track tape (rather than recording to multi-track tape and then mixing it later). The band were playing a lot of live gigs so it was just a question of making a list of tunes, having a quick discussion about the arrangement, press record, do one or two takes and move on to the next one – and don’t worry about the occasional bum note. Sound engineer Charlie Gray (RIP) had just bought a Sony SL-f1 Betamax digital 2-track recorder. That little machine was a revolution as it made digital recording portable and affordable for many musicians at the time. Charlie took the same machine with us when we toured Brazil that August and recorded the “Pingha Frenzy (live in Brazil)” album. The "B to A ..." album was only ever released on cassette and we lost the master tapes so these digital recordings have been recovered from several copies of the cassette found languishing amongst people’s record collections. In restoring these recordings very little processing has been applied, just enough to fix any little problems. It is what it is. Like "Pingha Frenzy” it’s a record of how Blowzabella sounded at the time and it sounds great!”. Paul James (November 2021).
The B to A of Blowzabella is a cross section of the music the band has been playing at dances over the last few years. The tunes were picked up by the band, both here and abroad, from friends, other musicians and bands, books, records, tapes and pub sessions. Some of these tunes have survived in the repertoire in their original form and some have been altered to suit a particular dance or purpose, and some have been improved or changed through constant usage. For the most part they are general purpose tunes which can be fitted to a wide variety of dances. When it comes to arrangements, everyone in the band knows the tunes and a basic structure is agreed for each piece prior to playing it. Everything else is made up on the spur of the moment. Any traditional authenticity or lack of it is coincidental.
- 48 Bar Jig – Spanish Jig (trad.)
- 48 Bar Polka (trad.)
- Hornpipes – The Savage / Gloucestershire Miner / William Taylor’s Table Top. (trad. / trad. & D. Shepherd / D. Shepherd)
- 2/4 Bourrées – Carrée De Vouvray / D’Aurore Sand / Fred Paris’s (G. Chabenat / trad. / Frederic Paris)
- Waltz – The Café Waltz (Callipyge) (E. Elsener)
- Polkas – The Knife’s Edge / Caffouillée (trad.)
- Mazurka – The Fubu Mazurka (D’Embrault) (T. Mirebeau)
- 3/8 Bourrées – Anon / Les Poules Huppées / Fil et Bobine (anon / J. Blanchard / G. Chabenat).
- Jigs – Shave the Monkey / Boys of the Mill (P. James / C. Stapleton).
- Waltz – Bouffard’s (P. Bouffard).
- Hornpipes – The New Hornpipes (D.Shepherd)
- Polka – Kolumtanz (trad.)
- Schottishes – Derriere les Carreaux / Mominette (F. Paris / M. Heintzen)
- Polkas – Pas D’Eté
- Jigs – The Marriage Marches (trad.)
- Laridé (trad. S.E. Brittany)
- Jigs – Tarascaire / Trip to Lincoln / Epic Branle (trad. / trad. / P. James & C. Stapleton)
All arrangements by Blowzabella. Copyright 1987 Blowzabella.
Nigel Eaton – hurdy-gurdies (lute-shaped in D / guitar-shaped in G).
Paul James – half-long border bagpipes (G), soprano saxophone, soprano rauschpfeife, flageolet, alto recorder, drum.
Ian Luff – cittern, bass guitar, drum, darabuka.
Dave Roberts – melodeon (G/D), drum.
Dave Shepherd – violin.
Jon Swayne – half-long border bagpipes (G and low D), soprano and alto saxophones, flageolet, fife.
Bagpipes, flageolets – J. Swayne.
Hurdy-gurdies – C. Eaton.
Cittern – A. Lamb.
Bass guitar – Wal.
Melodeon – Castagnari.
Rauschpfeife – E. Moulder
Saxophones – Yamaha, Borgani, Selmer.
Recorded on 12/04/1987 at Pathway, London, live direct to digital 2 track. Produced, recorded and edited by Charles Gray. Artwork, design: Janina Lech. All the music on this cassette is contained, along with the notation for some accompanying dances, in the ‘Encyclopaedia Blowzabellica – the Blowzabella Tune and Dance Book’. Mastered for MP3 by Paul James, November 2021.