logo Cheapies, Goodies & Turkeys
Records to watch out for ...


A page where people can mention worthwhile cheapies, plus the sort of wonderful odd items they come across, which would not normally be covered in the review section (not recently released, etc.).  We also thought that a 'to be avoided' section might be useful to unwary newcomers.

In each section, the most recent additions to the Page are at the top of the list.

A little help towards where to get this stuff may be found in the Useful Addresses section of the Discography of Traditional Recordings on this site.

Prices can vary considerably for one supplier to another.  Where we indicate a price, it will be the one which our informant was charged at the time indicated.  The following Price Code will be used:


Worthwhile stuff available at well below normal prices
A 10-CD set called Celtic Souls available on Amazon for $13.99.  It consists of 10 records from the old Outlet Recording label from Belfast - Price Code BB
I haven’t listened to all of the CDs yet, but there are a couple of them that are worth the price of the whole set.  One is the recording of John and James Kelly - their rendition of Dublin Porter/The Ballymahon Reel is, for me, worth the price of the set by itself.  Another good recording in the set is the one titled Cherish the Ladies (1981 - Outlet Recording - solp 1043) by Peg McGrath, Kathleen Smyth, Mary Mulholland.  I found this set by searching for recordings of Finbarr Dwyer since there is one of his records in the set (his box is tuned in the old, 'wet' tuning that is a bit hard on our ears today, but good playing nonetheless and includes a number of his famous compositions).  There is also a nice Seamus Tansey record, and another from the Armagh piper’s club (not really my cup of tea), and a couple of sampler recordings that repeat some tracks from the other CDs but also include recordings of the Sean Ryan Trio, Sean McGuire, Joe Burke, Na Fili, etc.  You also get that 'best of the Irish Ceili bands' CD that you often see on eBay.
As I understand it, Outlet Recordings went bankrupt and since they owed the most to The Dubliners, the Dubliners got most of the assets in the settlement, and now they (or their accountants) are licensing the Outlet catalogue to the budget CD companies.
This set has absolutely no notes or recording dates, just track listings (on the Tansey CD the listings for tracks 2 and 9 are inverted), and, as usual, there is very little time between tracks, so that you jump from the end of a slow air into a set of reels with only a two second break.  Still, it is probably the only way to hear some of this music now, and some of it is top-notch.
Contributed by Mark Bickford, Ithaca, NY - 23.7.07

Air Mail Music - some more in Playasound's eminently affordable and collectable series - Price Code BB
These Air Mail Musics range from the sublime to the gor blimey.  Himalaya and Nepal - SA 141040, and Cambodia - SA 141047 are wonderful.  With decent notes and packaging, they would be eminently recommendable at three times the price.  On the other hand, I couldn't recommend Mauritius - SA 141046, even to someone with a very long a barge pole.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 17.5.00

American Roots: A History of American Folk Music   Disky CB 248572, 4 discs - Price Code BB
Large and eclectic mix of pre-war country, early bluegrass and 1940s New York folk revival.  Everything from Fiddlin' John Carson to the Almanac Singers.  At 104 tracks for around £13-00 this makes a highly affordable, if somewhat eccentric, sampler.  Quite a few rare items.  Generally excellent sound quality as well.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 17.3.00

Broke, Black and Blue   Proper Music   Properbox 7 - Price Code BB
The subtitle, 'An Anthology of Blues Classics and Rarities' says it all.  100 tracks recorded between 1924 and 1946.  Includes the only known commercial recording of the wonderful Willie Brown whose Library of Congress Recordings from 10 years later have now been issued on Rounder.

Doughboys, Playboys and Cowboys   Proper Music   Properbox 6 - Price Code BB
Perhaps of less direct interest to the average MT reader, but still highly enjoyable, this look at the history of Western Swing goes from Bob Wills and Milton Brown through to Hank Thompson.
Both sets have been well remastered and come with good notes including brief biographical notes on the artists and, this time, recording details.
Contributed by Roger Johnson - 28.2.00

Jeux de Harpes Paraguy   Air Mail Music SA 141036 - Price Code BB
This disc, from an unnamed group of Guarani Indians, sounds more cabaret oriented than some of the others in the series.  However, it makes very pleasant listening, and recordings from Paraguy are not exactly falling out of the skies.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 15.12.99

Blues Brothers - Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee   Pulse PLS CD 186 - Price Code BB
What do you call a disc which lasts for 78 minutes, which highlights three major country blues artistes in session for Denis Preston's legendary Lansdowne Jazz outfit, and which gives you 51p change from four quid?  One hell of a bargain, that's what.  Marketed by Castle Communications.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 15.12.99

The Master of Ragtime Guitar - Blind Blake   Indigo IGOCD 2046 - Price Code B
Very pleasing selection from one of the masters of east coast blues guitar. Even the rotten shellac small record companies were obliged to work with can't disguise Blake's wonderful talent.  Legendary New Orleans clarinettist, Johnny Dodds, guests on two tracks.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 15.12.99

Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Up Above My Head   Indigo IGO CD 2108Z - Price Code MP
Too many of these Indigos duplicate too much of what has been re-released already.  With this one the field is much clearer. 22 blistering titles from the red hot momma of red hot gospel, with thunderous guitar, entrancing vocals, and superb backing from some of the leading jazzmen of the 1940s.  Totally unmissable.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 9.11.99

Air Mail Music - some more in Playasound's eminently affordable and collectable series - Price Code BB
There's not much one can say that hasn't been said about most of the others in this series.  They represent wonderful and otherwise often non-too-accessible examples of third world music making.  The Thailand disc is especially entrancing and, at 69 minutes, represents a remarkable bargain.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 9.11.99

Topic - 700 Series - Price Code B
With titles like these and New Age cover art, a wary MT reader might flinch ...

... but, in fact, they are a series of very respectable £7.00 compilations.  The two Celtic ones are only marginally less hard-line than a Voice of the People volume and the Irish one might easily have been a Ron Kavana GlobeStyle offering.  The Scottish volume has only Jeannie Robertson and Lizzie Higgins from the Trad camp, but the revival is represented by some pretty good stuff.  English Originals is good, and reviewed in these pages, and the Folk Collection is exactly that - but very well selected.  The complete track listings can be found in the Topic Discography.
Contributed by Rod Stradling - 31.10.99

I’ve recently taken delivery of three new Air Mail Musics - Price Code BB - two of which deserve rave notices and I feel that all three should be given a place. They are:
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 27.7.99

Proper - Farewell to Ireland - Price Code BB
4 CD Box of Irish music from US 78s of the '20s and '30s.  All the classics from the usual suspects, compiled by Ron Kavana.  £15 the set - 'king amazing!
Contributed by Rod Stradling - 12.7.99

Nimbus - From a Distant Shore - Price Code B
4 CD Box of Irish and Cape Breton music from the Cork University Festivals of the early '90s.  Modern - but no flash or 'Celtic'.  £19.99 the set!  Only £17 from Music Group (see the 'Buying CDs' Enthusiasm).
Contributed by Rod Stradling - 12.7.99

Air Mail Music series - Price Code B
Widely available but, in case of trouble, distributed by Auvidis / Harmonia Mundi.
Very cheap discs, aimed at the tourist market, with poor packaging, generally anonymous artists, and negligible information.  Some issues need treating with caution and I suspect MT surfers would have a hard time liking the Russian, Irish and Paris Accordeon issues.  The following are eminently collectable however:

The last three are as good as anything on the market at three times the price.  The Portuguese disc features two excellent dance troupes from the Algarve, while the Senegal has dazzling kora improvisations from Djeli Keba Kouate, Fode Drame and Bana Sissoko.  The Chinese is the pick of the bunch - excellent quality field recordings of the Miao and Dong peoples of Southern China, with some breathtaking choral singing.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 23.12.98

Two more in to look out for in the series.  Very African.  Very tribal.  Utterly enchanting.  The Tanzanian is as delightful as anything I've ever heard from that continent.  What a pity Silex couldn't have charged a couple of quid more and provided decent notes.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 2.1.99

Myanmar - or Burma to those who still use the old atlas - is not over represented in record catalogues, so this disc is doubly recommended.  Straight Myanman traditional music on shawms, xylophones, harps etc, plus a couple of tracks which suggest the influence of colonial days.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 17.1.99

Hallmark Records: - Price Code BB
Hallmark don't give an address, but are widely available.  I got all of these at HMV Records, Liverpool.

Hamish Henderson - Claddagh LP - Price Code BB
The Communist Party bookshop in Dublin's Temple Bar was offering the Claddagh LP of Hamish Henderson at ir£1.00 each the last time I looked in there.
Contributed by Terry Moylan - 7.1.99

Woody Guthrie - Dustbowl Ballads - Camden 74321578392 - Price Code B
Fans who missed the Rounder re-issue will be glad to know that RCA have re-issued this famous anthology as Woody Guthrie: A Legendary Performer (RCA 7431317742 - Price Code MP).
However, seasoned skinflints will be exultant to discover that a subsidiary of RCA, Camden, is offering the set for even less money as Dust Bowl Ballads.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 23.12.98

Jimmie Rodgers - The Yodelling Ranger - Empress RAJCD 806 - Price Code B
A very handy purchase if you can't afford the Bear and Rounder re-issues, especially as its 22 tracks cover Rodgers' entire career.  Sound quality, despite CEDAR remastering, is distinctly on the dull side though.
From Empress Recording Company, PO Box 25E, Ashford, Middlesex, TW15 1XL, UK.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 23.12.98

Les Voix du Monde: Une Anthologie des Expressions Vocales - Le Chant du Monde CMX 374 1010.12 - Price Code B
Massive and highly impressive 3 disc anthology of vocal styles from all over the world.  The set is broken down into various techniques illustrating compass and register, heterophony and declamation, etc. and is accompanied by a very sizeable book.  Cantometrics fans will love it.  Distributed by Harmonia Mundi, Germany
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 23.12.98

Flamenco 1920 - 1940: Songs From Seville - EPM 99532 - Price Code B?
Wonderful compilation of pre-war Flamenco, featuring such notables as La Nina de Los Peines, Manolo Caracol and Mauel Vallejo.  No recording dates and poor notes - duende is translated as elfish - but my God, the music!  Price unknown, but possibly dirt cheap.
From EPM Musique, 188, Boulevard Voltaire, 75011, Paris, France.  UK distributor not known.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 23.12.98

Llanerch Books
Llanerch Enterprises, Llanerch, Felinfach, Lampeter, Dyfed SA8 8PJ, Wales, have re-published a whole raft of folklore classics, roughly printed but very cheap, which include some otherwise unobtainable Folklore Society publications.  Titles of particular interest to MT surfers include:

Contributed by Fred McCormick - 23.12.98

Leroy Carr - Sloppy Drunk - Catfish KATCD 108 - Price Code B
Excellent 44 track double CD of this most eminent of pre-war blues pianists.  Biographies of Carr and accompanist Scrapper Blackwell, plus various illustrations, plus a detailed discography make this a worthwhile addition to any blues fan's library.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 1.2.99


Brilliant stuff which, for one good reason or another, has not appeared in the MT Reviews sections
Tibetan Folk Music: Traditional Songs & Instrumental Music from the Roof of the World. Saydisc CD-SL-427 - Price Code FP
Recorded by Robert Zollitsch entirely in Lhasa (the Tibetan capital) and featuring urban folk musicians and rural migrants, it contains some of the most exotic sounds you'll ever hear anywhere.  Sensible booklet notes as well, and that's not something you always get from Saydisc.........
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 15.12.99

Jova Stojiljkovic & Orkestar - Blow 'Besir' Blow - GlobeStyle CDORBD 038 - Price Code FP
Serbian Romany brass band music - absolutely brilliant ... imagine Ivo Papazov on trumpet!
Contributed by Rod Stradling - 31.10.99

Muzsikás: The Bartók Album - Hannibal HNCD 1439 - Price Code FP
This disc doesn’t tell you enough about Bartók’s folk musical influences to hang together as a concept album.  What makes it unmissable though is the blinding playing of Muzsikás, and the scorching singing of Márta Sebestyén.  You will never hear better from either.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 27.7.99

Voice of the People series
I've just heard that Topic have reduced the price of this vital collection to £165.  Check out their website in Useful Addresses (above).
Contributed by Rod Stradling - 2005

Polyphonies de Sardaigne - Le Chant du Monde LDX 274760 - Price Code FP?
Absolutely the finest cantu á tenores I've ever heard - this even impresses Africans!  There's also a companion volume on Holy Week polyphony (LDX 274936) which is almost as good.
Le Chant du Monde is distributed by Harmonia Mundi in the UK.
Contributed by Rod Stradling - 1996

Sardinian Chronicles - Bernard Lortat Jacob - Univ of Chicago Press - ISBN 0-226-49341-5 - Price ??
Extracts from both the above, together with launeddas, garra poetica and other Sardinian music, are on the wonderful CD accompanying this - the best short book on traditional music in the world!
Contributed by Rod Stradling - 21.12.98

May it Fill Your Soul - Tim Rice - Univ of Chicago Press - Price ??
Noting your Editor's comments about Lortat Jacob (above), have you tried Tim Rice on Bulgarian music?  Same publisher, same series.  An excellent book which raises some points pertinent to traditions nearer home.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 23.12.98

Rajasthani Folk Music - Saydisc CD-SDL 401 - Price Code FP
Readers will have noted the bashing Saydisc have received from the good Mr Stradling lately.  A great climbdown from some of the stuff they've handled in the past - like the excellent Matchbox Bluesmaster series.
This item, which ought to be still available, is worth any ethnic music fan forking out for.  Four groups of musicians giving 79 minutes of pure joy, and with sensible sleeve notes!   And ..........
Vocal Traditions of Bulgaria Saydisc CD-SDL 396 - Price Code FP
Gorgeous collection culled from the archives of Radio Sofia, with a couple of tracks from the famous Yanka Rupkina.  There is a lot of Bulgaria on the market, but I can't think of a single reason for not buying this one.
Contributed by Fred McCormick - 1.2.99

Classic Recordings of Irish Traditional Music from the Topic Catalogue - Globestyle CDORBD 081 to 094 - Price Code FP
Ron Kavana's delightful plundering of the Topic archives on 9 full length CDs - possibly what prompted the Voice of the People series?  No lover of Irish music and song can fail to enjoy every single record in the series, and the first (Treasure of my Heart - CDORBD 081) serves as a perfect sampler and quality indicator.  They may have been out long enough to be available at cut price from some suppliers, but even at full price they are a 'must have' for any collection.
Contributed by Rod Stradling - 27.12.98

Jane Turriff - Singin is Ma Life - Springthyme SPRCD 1038 - Price Code FP
"A wonderful voice, a totally accessible style, a priceless gem" said someone not too far away.  Certainly one of the very best British women singers I've ever had the pleasure of hearing.
Contributed by Rod Stradling - 27.12.98

Omos do Joe Cooley (Homage to...) Gael-Linn CEF CD 115 - Price Code FP
While not strictly traditional, this record is an utter delight.  Frankie Gavin and Paul Brock give us 47 minutes of gorgeous fiddle and accordion (with the excellent Charlie Lennon on piano for most tracks), and there's not a moment of flashiness in the whole thing - lovely music, beautifully played.
Contributed by Rod Stradling - 5.2.99


Things which, despite maybe an appealing title, are likely to disappoint most MT readers
Cap-Vert Cabo-Verde Islands   Air Mail Music. SA 141044
Not being familiar with the music of Cape Verde, I've no idea whether this soothing syrup of soporific somnambulence is in any way typical of the idiom.  If you're into the music of that region, you might just possibly want this disc.  You might also want to throw up.

(Book) Celtic Tides: traditional music in a new age - Martin Melhuish - Quarry Music Books, 1998.
This is the book of a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation TV series and has all the usual faults of TV tie-ins.  It relies entirely on the interviews carried out for the series, and therefore misses some aspects of Celtic music entirely.  It knows all about the Chieftains but doesn't mention Tomas O'Canann or Leo Rowsome, though it does mention the Dorans (once). The Scottish section mentions pibroch just once and doesn't explain it.  And for some reason it keeps mentioning Kathryn Tickell as Celtic...  It rarely talks about the structure or technique of the music.  And its scholarship is plain dreadful, including an assertion that Morris dancing comes from Cornwall.  Breton music occupies all of two pages, and Galician music less than that.

While Green Grass Grows: Memoirs of a folklorist. Bríd Mahon. Mercier, Cork, 1998
You'd expect a book of reminiscences from the former secretary of the Irish Folklore Commission to be a valuable read, even if your interest in Irish folklore never got out from between the jigs and reels.  This isn't.  Naive, silly, badly written, and massively uninformative.

Avoid the entire Rounder reissue of The Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music
A great idea and great music, but the tracks are so badly slashed as to be almost unlistenable.  Go for the Alain Danielou UNESCO re-issue series instead.

Some recent offerings from Saydisc
Appear to be aimed squarely at the 'Heritage' market, and many are perpetuating invented myth, misleading comment and spurious, unsubstantiated, out of date information.  Check out our Reviews pages first.

Thousands are Sailing Various artists - Shanachie 78025
Calling itself "A collection of classic Irish immigration [sic] songs by many of the finest traditional artists of the past 25 years", it is in fact wholly revival and mostly fairly recent.  Despite lots of fabulous songs, the performances are mostly deeply depressing.

Hallmark Records (above) also run a World Music series about which little seems to be known.
If China (Hallmark 308522) is anything to go by, avoid the entire series like the plague!


Rod Stradling - e-mail: rod@mustrad.org.uk    Tel: 01453 759475
snail-mail: 1 Castle Street, Stroud, Glos GL5 2HP, UK

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