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Malcolm Morley (formerly of Help Yourself, Man and Bees Make Honey) has recorded some new solo songs we are overjoyed to be releasing as a 10” EP.

It’s entitled ‘Raw’ because that’s exactly what it is – undiluted Malcolm Morley – just his voice and guitar, occasionally augmented by sparse accompanying instrumentation on some tracks – done in the spirit of those old blues and folk recordings.

The four songs will be familiar to anyone who has caught his shows over the past two years. The release combines two covers with two of his most accomplished recent compositions.

Side 1 opens with his version of the traditional ‘Dark Hollow’, also known as ‘Greenback Dollar’ and ‘East Virginia Blue’s and performed by many different artists over the years including Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and the Grateful Dead. Malcolm sounds in fabulous voice here and the song is given some extra backwoods authenticity by some haunting fiddle courtesy of Caitlin Sulibhan.

Summerlands’ is a swirling Morley original, an epic song full of glorious tumbling images and some fabulous Spanish guitar flourishes. As Malcolm explains: ‘I adapted it from one of my poems, and the theme is getting away from it all. Ever felt like that? I get it frequently on St Paul’s Road when the Arsenal have a home game. Where to go? ….Tottenham perhaps?’

Side 2 begins with a version of Frank Proffitt’s ‘Poor Man’, a highlight of recent live gigs. Proffitt was an Appalachian old-time banjo picker who was a big influence on the folk revival of the 50s and 60s. Malcolm heard the song on an album given to him by his American friend Ben Ovshinsky, part of a collection of live performances from the Newport Folk Festival in the US, possibly the 1965 one.

Where the River Bends’ is the fitting, closing cut, an achingly beautiful, poignant tribute to his late partner, Jane. This is a real tearjerker on par with earlier Morley classics like ‘Passing Through’ and ‘Many ways of Meeting’ and is worth the price of admission alone. A classic in every sense of the word.

This will NOT be available on CD.

As usual we are delighted that the record is housed in yet another elegantly designed piece of artwork by the amazing John Hurford.

Fabulous review of 'Raw' in The Wire no 373 by Byron Coley:
'Malcolm Morley is probably best known for his work with the UK's wonderful Help Yourself in the early 70s. Morley has kept busy in the intervening years, but this is his first solo release in a good long while and it's great. Mostly solo acoustic guitar and voice, with some violin from Caitlin Sullivan, 'Raw' is a lovely and elegant session featuring two covers and two originals, all of them darkly lit and beautifully played. Word is that the tunes are all part of Morley's current live set, and if I were in London, I would make haste to check him out. His approach to folk playing is n the classic post-psych mode, and the format has rarely sounded better than this'

Terrascope Online Review:
MALCOLM MORLEY - RAW (EP from Shagrat records)
To be perfectly honest, former Help Yourself frontiersman Malcolm Morley could probably sing the contents of a discarded shopping list and still be on the receiving end of plaudits and accolades from yours truly. Quite why he’s not yet a national treasure is a mystery to me, but then again given that much of what I hold dear seems doomed to be similarly overlooked I’m probably not the best person to quiz on the wherefores.

Opening song ‘East Virginia [Dark Hollow]’ is despite being a traditional song (covered in the past by artists as diverse as Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and the Grateful Dead) classic Morley material, folky Americana sung in his most lovestruck plaintive tone with a strummed guitar to the fore and some gorgeous fiddle playing in support from Caitlin Suilibhan. Next up is ’Summerlands’ and with a flick of the skirts and a swirl of the strings Morley transports us straight to Andaluthia, the flamenco guitar flashing dark eyes of longing and suggestiveness. The second side opens with another lovely slice of Americana backed by bows and strings, this time a cover of Frank Proffitt’s ‘Poor Man’, a highlight of Morley's live performances of late, and closes with Morley’s own, achingly beautiful, ‘Where the River Bends’, a poignant tribute to his late partner, Jane. Arguably a highlight of the collection, the song is up there with classic Morley songs of the past like the sublime ‘Passing Through’ (a song I already chose for my own funeral service, not that I'm planning on using it just yet) and ‘Many Ways of Meeting’.

Go find this lovely little ten-inch EP from Shagrat Records with its John Hurford artwork, in itself a badge of honour, and let’s hope for more of the same soon. (Phil McMullen)
The Terrascopaedia Issue 4
Price:  £8.00
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