It All Comes Round
Release Year: 2010
- Barbara Allen
- Dance Of The Knights
- La Traviata (Drinking Song)
- Jesu Joy Of Man’s Desiring
- Wor Nanny’s A Maisor
- The Skye Boat Song
- Scarborough Fair
- Sweet Home Chicago
- New World Symphony
- Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair
- It All Comes Round
- William Tell Overture (Complete)
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Track 1: ‘Barbara Allen’ (traditional folk song)
The distinctive melody of this centuries old piece is played and sung by Pete on acoustic guitar, delicately finger picked and accompanied by subtle tuneful harmonies. The song tells the sad story of a dying man, William, spurned by his love Barbara Allen, on his death bed. Barbara Allen soon however begins to regret her rejection of William when she hears his death bell knelling and dies of a broken heart herself brought on through sadness and guilt. The final verse does bring a tiny morsel of relief from this utter sadness by entwining the two departed souls together when they are buried next to each other. ‘And from his grave a red red rose and from her grave a green briar and there they joined a lover’s knot, red rose around green briar’
The origins of the song ‘Barbara Allen’ are somewhat unclear but it is generally considered to date back to the beginning of the 17th Century. It was first printed in 1750. It is even mentioned in Samuel Pepys’ diary for January 2nd 1666. One version of the song makes reference to ‘Reading Town’ though whether this is the original and authentic version is not clear. However what is known, is that the piece was very popular in the Thames Valley and occurs in several forms.
Track 2: Sergei Prokofiev’s Dance Of The Knights ‘Dance Of The Knights’ is perhaps the most famous tune of Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo & Juliet. This strident, heavy march like music encapsulates the theme of the warring families featured in the story. It is captured in Pete’s interpretation where he can be heard vigorously striking the six strings of his’Baby Taylor’ guitar emulating the full orchestral marching gusto. Pete’s guitar is double tracked so that one is playing the dramatic rhythm with the other picking out the equally dramatic melody. Accompanying the guitars is a clunking cowbell to add further weight to the rhythm and perhaps a hint of humour.
Sergei Prokofiev was born in the village of Sontsovka (Now Ukraine) on April 27th 1891. He began studying the piano with his mother at the age of three. By the age of nine he had written his first opera, The Giant.
In 1934 the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad approached Prokofiev to write a ballet on the subject of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The ballet in its original form was completed by Prokofiev in September 1935 and provides the tragic young lovers with some of his most lyrical and colourful music.
Prokofiev spent the last 19 years of his life in his home country and during this time wrote some of his finest work including Romeo & Juliet and Peter and the Wolf for chamber orchestra and narrator. Prokofiev died on 5th March 1953 as one of the most admired composers of the 20th century. He died on the very same day as another famous Soviet citizen of the time, Josef Stalin.
Track 3: Giuseppe Verdi’s ‘Drinking Song’ – ‘Libiamo ne’ lieti callici’
Libiamo ne’lieti calici (Drinking Song) is a famous duet from La Traviata and is indeed one of the most well known arias in the world of opera. Pete opens the song with guitar and mandolin. The Italian flavour is unmistakeable. Harmonies soon appear. “Let’s drink, let’s drink from this merry chalice….” Tuneful vocals layered over authentic acoustic instruments. Again the cowbell can be heard in the background. The delivery is purposeful and Lashley’s version is unusual in the sense that it is sung in English, not in the native Italian. It retains its fluid quality however before reaching its rousing conclusion “The wine and the singing, the night, let a new day take us into to Paradise.”
Guiseppe Verdi, the composer of La Traviata, Falstaff and Aida was born in 1813 in Le Roncole, Italy to a family of small landowners and tradesmen.
The first performance of La Traviata was on 6 March 1853 in Venice. Based on a play by Alexandre Dumas the younger, Verdi’s La Traviata tells the tragic story of Violetta, the consumptive courtesan, whose bid for true love finds her pitilessly rejected by the society that once rejoiced in her debauched parties.
As well as being a supreme composer of wonderful music Verdi was a political supporter of Italian unification and backed the republican Risorgimento movement. Indeed his later ‘grand operas’ strove to pose political questions subtly interlinked with personal conflict, such as the one faced by tragic courtesan Violetta in ‘La Traviata’. It is thought by many that Verdi wanted to portray Violetta as a victim of bourgeois hypocrisy – perhaps a statement of the class antagonism going on at the time within the Italian kingdoms under Austrian Habsburg rule.
Verdi passed away in Milan, January 27, 1901, at the age of eighty-eight, in many ways a national hero. His funeral was attended by so many that it is still considered to be the largest public event ever to be held in Italy!
Track 4: Johann Sebastian Bach’s ‘Jesu Joy Of Man’s Desiring’
Pete’s rendition of Bach’s ‘Jesu Joy Of Man’s Desiring’ is subtly picked out on acoustic guitar and the momentum and fluidity of the piece are not lost when he introduces his own melody two thirds of the way in to take the listener on a powerful and rewarding diversion before returning to the main theme of the piece and its beautiful conclusion.
Johann Sebastian Bach, composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist, was born on March 21st l685 in Eisenach in Central Germany and was the son of Johann Ambrosius. Johann was court trumpeter for the Duke of Eisenach and director of the musicians of the town of Eisenach in Thuringia.
When JS Bach was born his birthplace already had religious historic significance as it was in the Wartburg Castle standing high above Eisenach that Martin Luther, in hiding from his persecutors, translated the New Testament into German.
Bach lost his mother and father by the age of 10 and was to go and live with his eldest brother Johann Christoph. Johann Christoph was an extremely gifted organ and harpsichord player himself and an excellent teacher of music. His teachings obviously rubbed off on his younger brother Johann Sebastian as Bach later in his musical career went on to become Cantor and Director Of Music at Leipzig, a town of 30,000 inhabitants where he was to live, teach, compose and perform until his death in 1750.
He is now regarded as one of the most inspirational composers and organists of the late Baroque period.
Bach’s ‘Jesu Joy Of Man’s Desiring‘ is the English title of the 10th movement of the cantata ‘Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben’ (Heart and mouth and deed and life) first performed in Leipzig in July 1723 when Bach was 38. The piece was originally written to be played on organ, trumpet, oboe and strings.
Track 5: Tommy Armstrong’s ‘Wor Nanny’s A Maisor’
Tommy Armstrong’s ‘Wor Nanny’s A Maisor’ is a witty north-east classic. Pete’s version of the song is played on ukulele. The tone and galloping rhythm created by Pete strumming the nylon strings of the instrument and singing the words in quick rhyme (as they were meant to be sung) really add to the piece.
The song tells the story of “Wor Nanny” getting tanked up on beer and gin and causing something of a commotion at the nearby public house after she and her downbeat companion miss the train.
Tommy lived between 1848 and 1919 in a former mining village called Tanfield Lea in County Durham. Tommy was known as the ‘Pitman Poet’ or ‘Bard of the northern coalfield’ as he was a miner who wrote songs and poems that tell of life in the County Durham area at the turn of the century. He wrote to keep himself in beer money and to support his large family as he had fourteen children! Tommy’s work was printed and sold around local public houses for a penny each.
Track 6: ‘The Skye Boat Song’ (traditional folk song)
Pete’s atmospheric adaptation of ‘The Skye Boat Song’ is an amalgamation of mandolin, guitar and slide. Early on the mandolin combined with the finger-picked Baby Taylor creates a real Gaelic traditional folk sound. The introduction of a slide at 2:38 minutes heralds in a new tune written as an add on by Pete with great effect. As the beat picks up and the tambourine jangles the mandolin begins to dance.
This version of ‘The Skye Boat Song’ is purely instrumental. However, the words to this famous song were written by Sir Harold Boulton (1859-1935) to an air collected by Miss Anne Macleod in the 1870’s. The song was first published in ‘Songs Of The North’ by Boulton and Macleod in 1884. According to Andrew Kantze, a collector of folk music lore, Miss Macleod was on a trip to the Isle Of Skye and was being rowed over Loch Coruisk when the rowers broke into a Gaelic rowing song “The Cuckoo In The Grove”. Boulton later added the section with the Jacobite associations recalling the escape of the young pretender, Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) after his defeat at Culloden in 1746 and indeed the many Scots who died and were exiled for the Jacobite cause. The first and last verses from the song outline this. ‘Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing, “Onward” the sailors cry, Carry the lad that’s born to be king, Over the sea to Skye……. ‘Burned are their homes, exile and death, Scatter the loyal men, Yet ere the sword cool in the sheath, Charlie will come again’
Track 7: Scarborough Fair (traditional folk song)
Scarborough Fair enters the scene magically with Pete sliding up and down the fretboard delicately finger-picking steel strings which reverberate throughout the acoustic guitar. This warm woody sound is beautifully captured by producer Sam Parkinson placing a highly sensitive microphone inches away from the sound hole of the guitar. When Pete’s guitar enters into the song’s familiar melody there are definite influences that can be heard from both Paul Simon and Martin Carthy’s versions. Indeed the guitar picking in the main body of the song, Pete openly admits, is basically Paul Simon’s rendition. However, it’s also clear to hear that Pete has let his own personality breath throughout the piece. How? well, he has introduced a haunting middle eight comprising of subtle finger picked notes and chords of his own and has also injected into the piece a warm pastoral emotion generated by his rich vocals.
Scarborough Fair originated from a charter granted by King Henry III in 1253. It became a 45 day trading event starting every August. It lasted until 1788. During this period merchants would come from all over England and from further a-field such as areas of the Baltic, Scandinavia and the Byzantine Empire.
The song tells the tale of a young man suggesting to the listener that if they are going to Scarborough Fair to ask his former lover to perform a series of impossible tasks, such as reaping an acre of land with a sickle of leather or making a shirt without a seam. Only after she has performed these impossible tasks will he take her back. Often the song is sung as a duet with the woman then giving her lover a series of equally impossible tasks.
There is evidence to suggest that the song ‘Scarborugh Fair’ may well have originated from an old Scottish ballad ‘The Elfin knight’ which has been traced to the latter half of the 17th Century. As the song spread it was modified and rewritten to the point that dozens of versions existed by the late 18th Century.
Track 8: Robert Johnson’s ‘Sweet Home Chicago’
Pete really gets his teeth into this Robert Johnson blues classic. Using his guitar to pound out the 12 bar blues, accompanied by harmonica blown through a holder and tambourine played by his foot, (all going on at the same time) Lashley creates a really live feel to this recording. Thanks to producer Sam Parkinson’s intimate placing of the microphone right up close, the song gets that rich ‘in the living room’ type vibrant sound.
The lyrics in the song are somewhat ambiguous where making reference to ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ being in ‘the land of California’. Perhaps in this context the ‘land of California’ represents some kind of utopian land of milk and honey where Robert Johnson dreams his sweet Chicago is, as opposed to the actual geographical location of California on the western extremities of the United States – a long way in reality from Chicago, Illinois.
Robert Leroy Johnson (May 8, 1911-August 16th, 1938) was born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi and has become a legend in the world of blues music. His shadowy poorly documented life and death – his roving from town to town, his alleged womanizing, his encounter with the devil at a crossroads and his likely murder (possibly poisoned by a jealous husband or girlfriend in Greenwood, Mississippi) – have accentuated this legend.
Johnson’s fame and notoriety were not entirely posthumous. His recordings brought a wider recognition of his talents during his own lifetime. Indeed he was scheduled to perform at the first ‘Spirituals to Swing’ concert at Carnegie Hall when he died in August 1938.
Track 9: Antonin Dvorak’s ‘New World Symphony’
There is a surprising twist to the way Pete plays Antonin Dvorak’s ‘New World Symphony.’ Using a steel slide and moving up and down the fretboard of the guitar, the melody (originally written by Dvorak to be played on English horn) is played over a chugging guitar rhythm and cowbell. An egg shaker soon joins in to add fizz to the percussion and the whole effect is an energetic and highly original take on this classic tune.
Dvorak was born in the village of Nelahozeves near Prague in 1841. His father was a butcher and while his early circumstances were relatively poor, he learned violin, viola, piano and organ at school. He later studied in Prague and there for a number of years played viola in the Provisional Theatre Orchestra. This gave him deeper knowledge of orchestral dynamics. Bedrich Smetana was the founding father of the Czech nationalist school of music and the chief conductor. He was a big influence on Dvorak.
Later in his career Dvorak toured Europe and then with his family America where he took up the director post in the National Conservatory Of Music in New York. Here he continued his interest in folk music learning about Black American and native American music traditions. During his stay in America he was to write ‘New World Symphony’. The slow movement’s reflective slightly melancholic melody hints at the composer’s homesickness for his native Czech land. Dvorak was to return home after 3 years away and he died in Prague in 1904.
Track 10: Stephen Foster’s ‘Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair’
This mid 19th Century American folk song is played by Pete with great sensitivity. He sings it in a rich reflective nostalgic tone and the finger picked guitar enhances the emotion of the piece. “Now the nodding wild flowers may wither on the shore, while her gentle fingers will lull them no more, I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair, floating like a vapour on the soft summer air”.
Stephen Foster was born in Pittsburgh in 1826. He became a bookkeeper with his brother’s steamship company when he was 20 and thus moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Here he wrote ‘Oh! Susanna’ a song popular during the California Gold Rush. In the 1850’s Foster signed a contract with the Christy Minstrels and proceeded to write some of his best known songs – ‘Camptown Races’, ‘Nelly Bly’, ‘My Old Kentucky Home’, and ‘Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair’.
During this time of slavery and constitutional unrest in North America, Foster significantly instructed Caucasian performers of his songs not to mock slaves but to get their audiences to feel compassion for them. Foster was progressive in another sense in that he was one of the first to try and make a living as a professional songwriter, an almost impossible task given that there was such a limited scope for music copyright and composer royalties at the time. Foster died in 1864 a year before the ending of the four year long American Civil War.
Though in his lifetime Foster may not have ever made a fortune from his passion his musical legacy is legendary within the sphere of American folk song.
In 1941 when an ASCAP (American Society Of Composers and Publishers) strike prevented modern music of the time being broadcast across the nation, the broadcasters decided to use songs from the public domain. ‘Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair’ was used on a regular basis and became even better known throughout the US as an American classic.
Track 11: Pete Lashley’s ‘It All Comes Round’
The acoustic and slide guitar appear along with soulful vocals in this moving song written by Pete which first featured on his 2008 album ‘Voices From The Ocean Road’. It was decided to be included on this album as the sentiment of the song reflects that of the whole album, that being life, death, emotions, music, all seem to be of a cyclical nature. The mainstays of a life lived expressed in say unconditional generosity, courage, a moving piece of music, will always come around again, even if it takes years for us to rediscover them. ‘Is it seven years of wonder? Is it seven years to the pound? Either way, it’s ok, it all comes round’
Track 12: Gioachino Rossini’s ‘William Tell Overture’
Four movements make up Rossini’s ‘William Tell Overture’. Pete plays them all on acoustic guitars,sometimes double-tracked and more occasionally triple tracked. It begins with the ‘Prelude’ – a slow passage originally written by Rossini for the cello. Pete detunes his guitar for the first few notes to try and capture the deeper mood created in the original composition. It’s interesting to note that William Tell was a revolutionary against 14th Century Austrian oppression in states of the Swiss confederacy. This deep mood of the prelude, representing dawn over the forbidding mountains, could be seen to represent both a pastoral beauty and the oppressed atmosphere in which the Swiss were forced to live under Austrian dictatorship.
The second movement is the ‘Storm’. Up to four layers of acoustic guitars are used in this section by Pete, all of which are playing their own distinct roles to capture the drama. The gentle bird call heard as the storm abates is sublime. Pete plucks high pitch notes to emulate Rossini’s original flute.
The third movement, Ranz des Vaches (call to the dairy cows), originally featuring the English horn and flute, signifies daybreak. Pete softly picks the guitar to emulate the English horn melody and the higher fluttering flute parts that come in later on in the movement.
The fourth movement and the most well known is the ‘Gallop’ which Rossini heralded by trumpets and wrote for full orchestra. This segment is often used in popular media to denote galloping horses and became the lone ranger theme music. Lashley uses acoustic guitars again to pick out the melody and high paced rhythm. Pete brings in the cowbell and tambourine to sustain the momentum as the music gallops towards its rousing conclusion.
Perhaps the political connotations of the William Tell overture are hardly surprising given that Rossini was born in Pesaro on the Adriatic coast of Italy in 1792 at a time when revolution was breaking out in nearby France. This revolutionary feeling, a questioning of the old order across Europe, was to at least temporarily rock France and parts of Europe to its core. Rossini’s father was sympathetic to the French Revolution and welcomed Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops when they arrived in northern Italy. When Austria restored the old regime in 1796, Rossini’s father was sent to prison and his mother took him to Bologna where she made a living as a leading singer at various theatres of the Romagna region.
During Rossini’s Paris years between 1824 and 1829 he created Guillaume Tell (William Tell). The production in 1829 brought his career as a writer of opera to a close. By this time he had already composed thirty-eight operas. Rossini died in 1868.
The overture is one of the most famous and frequently recorded works in the classical repertoire although the opera itself is rarely heard uncut today as the original score runs for more than four hours!