- Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: Faber Music Limited (3 April 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0571538290
- ISBN-13: 978-0571538294
- Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 22.2 x 29.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 275,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
Bellowhead: The Songbook (Piano/Voice/Guitar) Paperback – 3 Apr 2014
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The first question I had to ask myself when considering this book is: is it possible to simplify the complex arrangements of the 22-legged groove machine that is Bellowhead, down to something that somebody with my rudimentary guitar skills can play? After just about getting to grips with 'New York Girls' I can say the answer is a resounding YES. Bellowhead's first songbook includes crowd-pleasers like the aforementioned 'New York Girls', 'London Town' and 'Sloe Gin', alongside less obvious ones, such as'10,000 Miles Away' and 'Parson's Farewell'. All in all there are fifteen songs and tunes arranged for piano, voice and guitar chords. Those with greater skill can make the most of the notation, whilst the barely capable (like myself) can strum along and pretend you're part of Britain's finest live act. The book has a potted history from Paul Sartin by way of introduction, as well as pen pictures of each of the band members that displays a range of talent and experience that will make all wannabe folkies green with envy. Even better is each song or tune has an introduction detailing its history and provenance, the most pithy of which is for 'Unclothed Nocturnal Manuscript Crisis': 'Written by Benji in the Welsh Borders in the late 1990s, the title alone contains a comprehensive account of the tune's inception'. Admittedly you're not likely to sit down and read this cover to cover, but that's not what it's for. If you're like me, however, you can while away your time trying to master a tune and in so doing get a glimpse behind the curtain and get some sense of the group's genius. --Jonathan Roscoe. Shire Folk Magazine, July 2014
Given the devotion Bellowhead inspire, this publication of the words and tunes to 15 of their favourite pieces is an essential public service. The Songbook offers the opportunity for people to have a crack at 10,000 Miles Away . London Town , Roll the Woodpile Down and Fakenham Fair . The character of Bellowhead s music lies in their extraordinary instrumental arsenal, which cannot be provided here, of course, pieces are arranged for piano, voice and guitar. The music, words and guitar chords are clear, the book is a good size to put on the piano and it even stays open as you play. So it is a pleasure to use as a songbook. But it is much more than that. It is a photo album, a history and musical reference work, too. The songs and tunes are interspersed with pictures of the individual members in performance, the entire ensemble on stage, the rather daft stagey group portraits they have made a speciality of and several rather charming shots of the musicians. I like the one of trumpet player Andy Mellon reading the paper the Money section. Now the band has signed to Island Records perhaps he ll not need to so do with such intense concentration. Paul Sartin (oboe, fiddle, vocals) has penned an elegant history of the band, from it s first rehearsal in a scout hut to recording for The Simpsons and The Archers. There are neat thumbnail biographies of the band members, and each song is given fascinating and witty introduction. So I m tempted to recommend this music book even to those who can t play or read dots. --Julian May, Songlines Magazine, August/September 2014
In the several years I have been reviewing recordings and books for EDS, this is the first time I can claim that the band under review is currently at number 12 in the UK Official Album Chart (July 2014). The new Bellowhead album Revival is charting as I write; an interesting journey for a band that, ten years ago, was formed by John Spiers and Jon Boden, two of the most popular folk music performers of that time. That journey has now also been captured in a song book. It contains versions of fifteen of the songs that have made up the band s repertoire over the intervening years. The actual scores are written as a melody line with a piano part. They have been transcribed by Olly Weeks, an English composer who has worked on other tune books for Faber. The ones I tried were a good facsimile of the songs and give some indication of the song structure. Frankly it would be impossible to capture the complexity and general weirdness that goes on in some of the arrangements, without a complete score of all the instruments. I tested the book out on a music teacher friend, who has never heard of the band, and is not very knowledgeable about folk either, but teaches children music every day. He found it very easy to use, and could immediately see how it would work in school situations. The book is also a celebration of ten years of the band. It contains many photographs covering the time the band has been together. There is a useful history of the band, and a biography section of the current members. Each of the songs has a handy introduction, with information about the origin of the tune or words when known. Paul Sartin deserves full credit for putting the book together and writing the supporting notes with a light touch. I suspect the book will be bought more as a souvenir and celebration of the band s first ten years, by loyal fans, rather than by musicians keen to emulate the band. But as a record of the music to date, and an informative book, why not? --Gareth Kidder, English Dance & Song Magazine Autumn 2014
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Great insight into this groups unearthing of folk songs and giving them a modern spin.Published on 15 July 2014 by Mrs L Hobbs