The ballad of john axon evokes the rich textures of the lives of the men of the railways in the 1950's. I remember hearing a recording of this in my childhood and the rhythms and images have stayed since. It shows the qualities and values that were required to "keep the engines rolling". The whimsical beauty of the "countryside at dawn" is contrasted with the tons of unstoppable steel crushing the lives of two men whilst celebrating their indomitable spirit. It invokes a time when there was a pride in the skills and abilities of people with real jobs and simpler and truer pleasures; even within the constraints of an unequal society. The words of the men, interspersed with the sounds of the engine sheds and celebrated with songs and music, creates a vibrant tapestry of an age lost. It is a masterful work from Ewan McColl, Charles Parker and Peggy Seeger who have ensured that the focus remains true to the men of the railways.