Small Voice Calling > The Voice > Roots
“Go back to source and discover the originals.”
“In the wake of ‘Bridge of Sighs‘ in 1986, new songs were very slow in coming… (so Ralph) McTell began recording what was a long-overdue album exploring his blues and ragtime influences.” (Hockenhull, Chris. ‘Streets of London’, p. 119.)
Chief among these influences were Jesse Fuller, Blind Boy Fuller, Blind Blake, Robert Johnson, Joseph Spence – and Blind Willie McTell, from whom Ralph had taken his stage name. The appropriately named ‘Blue Skies Black Heroes’ was released in 1988. Ralph’s sleeve note says, “…I have tried to convey the spirit of this music. This is the London version of the rural blues!”
The 1990 follow-on album, ‘Stealin’ Back’, widened the circle of influence to include Gus Cannon, Rev Gary Davis and the Memphis Jug Band. Ralph wrote on the CD insert, “If my attempts at arranging and performing these classics make you go back to source and discover the originals, I hope you get as much pleasure from them as I do.”
Further ‘back to the roots’ albums followed, including ‘National Treasure’, featuring songs written for resophonic guitar; ‘Gates of Eden’, with songs by Woody Guthrie and (early) Bob Dylan; and ‘About Time’, a collaboration with Wizz Jones, who in 1966 had invited Ralph to Cornwall to play at the now legendary Mermaid Inn at Porth and Folk Cottage at Mitchell.
Blue Skies Black Heroes
“I have to say… (Joseph Spence’s) influence… has been immense.”
LP – Released 1988 – Leola TPG10.
CD – Released 1988 – Leola TPGCD10.
“…covering not only the Blues but also some Ragtime pieces and Goodtime Jug Band songs.”
CD – Released 1990 – Essential ESSCD137.
“Blind Boy Fuller played a National resonator and… I fell in love with the sound…”
CD – Released 2002 – Leola TPGCD21.
Gates of Eden
“The music on this CD is the beginning of my own journey and these songs are almost sacred to me”.
CD – Released 2006 – Leola TPGCD26.
See Ralph’s own website article on ‘Gates of Eden’.
Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright
A tribute to Bob Dylan on his 70th birthday.
Download – Released 2011 – Leola.
“The pure pleasure of noodling around the instrument.”
CD – Released 2012 – Leola TPGCD35.
About Time (Ralph McTell and Wizz Jones)
“Back to the roots for two Croydon boys who only ever wanted to be Woody Guthrie or Jack Kerouac”.
CD – Released 2016 – Leola TPGCD37.
About Time Too (Ralph McTell and Wizz Jones)
A follow-up to ‘About Time’… “before it’s too late”.
CD – Released 2017 – Leola TPGCD38.
And About Time Too (Ralph McTell and Wizz Jones)
A double LP vinyl version of the two ‘About Time’ releases.
Double LP – Released 2018 – Leola TPGLP39.