The Grey Picker | Eight and Forty

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Eight and Forty

by The Grey Picker

Original songs of air aces, steelmen, political prisoners, ploughboys, bankers, trawlermen, tunnellers, Munro baggers, the Tolpuddle Martyrs and Stoke Station!
Genre: Folk: Free-folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Wrong Way Corrigan
5:52 $0.99
2. Warriors
3:16 $0.99
3. John Lilburne
3:49 $0.99
4. Eight and Forty
3:54 $0.99
5. The Banker's Lament
2:50 $0.99
6. Three Ships
3:54 $0.99
7. Running the World
3:49 $0.99
8. William Hackett VC
6:22 $0.99
9. The Munro Bagger
4:02 $0.99
10. Cold Heart in Stoke
4:13 $0.99
11. The Tolpuddle Martyrs
2:17 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
It is hard to put the Grey Picker’s music into a single category. At times he sounds Irish – a legacy from teenage summers in the late 60’s and 70’s when he thumbed lifts around Ireland, paying his way by playing banjo and singing in the pubs. He is definitely political, but why wouldn’t he be with an Oxford degree in politics and years of experience playing benefits to support the steelworkers, miners, anti apartheid and the peace movement? There is no mistaking that the Picker’s roots are deep in Yorkshire soil. His ancestors worked on farms in the Yorkshire Wolds and he grew up milking cows, ploughing, sowing and reaping. But the Picker is a citizen of the wider world, too, who loves the hills and mountains, as revealed on his first CD, Namaste. (We are even treated to Yak bells and alleged high-altitude Morris dancing on the new CD!) The songs he writes are often history lessons, but then he did teach history in secondary schools for years. He has dozens of ballads of ordinary people who performed out of the ordinary deeds. The new EIGHT AND FORTY CD springs from a fusion of all these influences.

Eight and Forty was a house built so that the 48 parishes that had rights on the marshy common known as Wallingfen could meet to resolve any disputes. They met from at least the 14th Century onwards. An ancestor of the Picker’s was born in the Eight and Forty hamlet. Farm workers and servants hired on annually at the November Martinmas Fair. It was often a time of parting and sadness. “Poor Lads” not hired would put on a play and sing to raise money. Children would bring a penny to school on the day the Poor Lads came.

Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan was the ultimate ‘seat of the pants’ flying pioneer. He flew his 69$ converted wreck over the ocean for 28 hours in defiance of bureaucracy, The Flying Irishman had a bigger Broadway parade than his hero Charles Lindburgh. The song is written in the Irish traditional style, with exotic language, gratuitous references to the classics and acrobatic rhyming structures!

Warriors was composed by Keith Jones who wrote and sang in partnership with the Picker in the early 70s. He is a wonderful writer with songs that well deserve an airing. Warriors celebrates the steel workers, in helmets and gauntlets, wrestling hot bars, taking pride in the quality of what they produced.

“Freeborn” John Lilburne was a hugely popular figure in Cromwell’s England. Many years of his life were spent in prisons for proposing civil rights. He was too popular for Oliver Cromwell to execute and too dangerous to set free. Nelson Mandela and Aun Sang Suu Kyi have displayed similar resolve and courage in our era.

The Banker’s Lament. There was a lot of internet humour associated with the collapse of banks across the world from 2007 onwards. This song attempts to pull that all together. Thanks to Paddy McEvoy for the Karma and Yoga Banks!

Three Ships. The St Romanus, Kingston Peridot and Ross Cleveland all sank in northern waters in January, 1968. 58 trawlermen were lost, including the Picker’s own cousin who was a sparehand on the Kingston Peridot. The song was written in 1968 and reviewed in 2011.

Running The World. On May 25th, 1986, 20 million people from 89 countries ran 10 kilometres and raised £37m to support African famine relief. White-clad Sudanese runner, Omar Khalifi signalled the start, lighting a torch of unity at the United Nations. It remains the sporting event with the biggest participation in history. 25 years on, we still have a long way to run.

William Hackett VC and Thomas Collins, the man he tried to save, lie together, buried in a collapsed tunnel below the fields of Givenchy in northern France. The bravery of the 10,000 tunnellers, most of them miners, was concealed by the Official Secrets Act until 1962 and their gallantry almost forgotten
The Munro Bagger is written from (painful) experience. Still 79 to do! Dedicated to Gary “Wrong Way” Martin, without whom the hills would have been even harder and fewer would have been climbed.

Cold Heart in Stoke. These events took place in Stoke Station in the winter of 1974-1975.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs. Transported to Australia by a paranoid government, released due to massive outrage and popular support, they became a beacon to organised labour.

EIGHT AND FORTY was Recorded at Blank Tape Studios, Sheffield. Tom Chester was the engineer and co-producer. In the absence of legendary ( and some say ’mythical’) Picker collaborators Simon Grobey and Harrison ‘HK’ Rodd, the Picker plays all instruments - 6 and 12 String Guitars, Mandolin, Bouzouki, Tenor Banjo, Harmonica, Whistle and Tambourine. The other players are: Christy Young: - Vocals; Paddy Young - Electric Guitar on John Lilburne, Vocals; Tom Chester -Bass, Guitar on Banker’s Lament, Vocals.

Here it is then, EIGHT AND FORTY. A slightly Irish, definitely Yorkshire, working-class history module of a CD. Original songs from a one-off singer, wrong-writer! Long may he strum!



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mick lewis

john young