All recordings available to download from Bandcamp
Martin Newell and The Hosepipe Band have made three full length albums all available as physical CDs and as downloads from Bandcamp. Go to SHOP
THE SONG OF THE WATERLILY AND BLACK SHUCK – 2015
The first recording comprises two long poems: The Song of the Waterlily which describes the building of a boat from tree to sea and Black Shuck tells the story of the black dog which is said to haunt the East Anglia landscape.
THE GREEN CHILDREN AND OTHER POEMS – 2016
This second CD comprises Martin’s long poem, The Green Children accompanied by original music composed by The Hosepipe Band plus three of Martin’s shorter poems: Royal Norfolk, The Winter, and Severe Weather Warning – all accompanied by original music.
The opening track as a taster: Green Children
JIGSAW COAST – 2018
The group’s third CD comprises 13 short poems accompanied by original music composed and played by members of the Hosepipe Band. The poems all relate to East Anglian people, places and events which have meant something to Martin in the time he has lived in the region. Martin introduces the poems with personal memories and anecdotes, some humorous, some more serious. This recording is of a live show The Clocks Go Back, which took place at The Headgate Theatre, Colchester, on October 28th 2018.
Here’s a video of Dead in Barmaid’s Bed from Jigsaw Coast
Mercurial, that’s the word. Martin Newell is indeed a mercurial beast. From progressive rock to shimmering and often skewed indie pop, never one to follow conventions and creating wonderful and quintessentially English music along the way. Latterly he has dedicated his time to being a poet, author and award-winning columnist. Here we find 2 of his best-loved poems put to music with the aid of East Anglia’s longest established ceilidh outfit, The Hosepipe Band, and the result is fantastic. The first half of the album is The Song of the Waterlily, which documents the building of a ship, a deep-sea fishing smack, seen through the eyes of a younger apprentice shipwright, a journey from tree to sea. The series of musical chapters weave between spoken word, shanty choruses, gentle folk accompaniments and smart musical interludes and reminds me of the sort of thing that Jethro Tull may have engaged in back in their seventies Songs From The Wood era heydays (only without the one legged theatrics and frightening codpieces.)
The song cycle just oozes calm and pastoral peace, despite the industriousness at the heart of the story, for it is a gentle, older form of productivity, one that seems at one with the waterfront and greenery you picture as the tales framework.
Black Shuck is a darker piece, the tale of a demonic hound that has been haunting the fens, coastline and churchyards since “Essex was a front line between Saxon and Dane” a beast whose presence spells misfortune. Musically, in contrast to the lighter folk offerings for the first piece, we get more drama and more eclecticism in the music.
Through these two poems, which seem to hark back to earlier times, Newell is allowing himself to revel in the East Anglia that he loves, the small villages and quiet lanes, the timelessness and weight of history which seems to hang in the air.
Even if you’re not from the neck of the woods that Martin and The Hosepipe Band are so wonderfully honouring, it still speaks to the listener of lost times and folklore, of tales told in corners of pubs on winter nights and of the ever present sea. It is a wonderful collaboration that matches the deft words of Newell with some suitably dexterous playing from the band and makes for a very unique experience.
May 15, 2016
MARTIN NEWELL WITH THE HOSEPIPE BAND
The Song Of The Waterlily /Black Shuck
Own label MNTHBCD1
He functioned as a singing songwriter when mainstay of The Cleaners From Venus and then as a solo attraction before becoming, so it says here, the “most-published living poet in the UK”. Two of his lengthier offerings in the capacity, The Song Of The Waterlily and Black Shuck, have long been available on the
printed page. However, the proudly East Anglian bard now intones them on this collaboration with The Hosepipe Band, a local ceilidh outfit, affiliated most famously to New Model Army and The Churchfitters.
Among resources at their command are a serviceable pool of composers; the vocal concord of Cara Bruns and Simon Haines, and their mastery of the disparate likes of hurdygurdy, hammered dulcimer, musical saw, guitar,
keyboards, schwirrbogen (a more euphonious version of a bullroarer), concertina – and all manner of blowing instruments. These include the bagpipes to the fore on the stirring conclusion to Warplanes, one of the eight tracks over which Black Shuck is spread, interspersed with succinctly-arranged interludes
by the group.
Another highlight of this section is the Jethro Tullesque Churchyard Clang finale, but, overall, Black Shuck (concerning a spectral canine) contains a more compatible qualitative balance of spoken word and music than its companion work. While the recurring We Are The Ship theme to Waterlily may come to be heard, despite differing arrangements, no more than a mariner hears the sea,
the instrumentals – particularly Rowhedge Regatta and the piano-led intro to Song Of The Storm Part 1 – bear more repeated listening than Martin’s narrative. Nevertheless, the backing to this in every selection on this release (as should incidental music in a film) enhances rather than diverts attention from
declamations which, if wordy, are never precious. So much so that I was left with a vague feeling that I’d like to hear more – and there’s plenty of that in five other Newell retrospectives within the catalogue.
Martin Newell with The Hosepipe Band
The Song of the Waterlily & Black Shuck (Independent)
This is a wonderfully English collaboration, featuring Martin Newell, an award-winning North Essex poet, and a stalwart East Anglian ceilidh band. Together they tackle two of Newell’s poems: The Song of the Waterlily and the epic Black Shuck.
The Song of the Waterlily describes the building and sailing of a traditional Essex deep-sea fishing smack, “from tree to sea”. Black Shuck is about the sinister ghostly dog, which is said to have haunted the eerie East Anglian fens, broads, and wetlands since Viking times. Following the phantom dog’s tracks through the half-forgotten misty lanes of North Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk, the poem seeks to capture some of the dark mystery of this largely unsung part of southeastern England. The poetry is evocative and moving while the music supports it perfectly and punctuates each transition from passage to passage. Highly recommended.
– By Tim Readman
Penguin Eggs Magazine P.O. Box 4009, South Edmonton Edmonton, AB Canada
FROM LIVING TRADITION MAGAZINE
MARTIN NEWELL WITH THE HOSEPIPE BAND
The Green Children & Other Poems
Private Label MN+THB001CD
MARTIN NEWELL WITH THE HOSEPIPE BAND
The Song Of The Waterlily And Black Shuck
Private Label MNTHBCD1
These two CDs from Martin and his band have just arrived on my desk, and in some ways it’s about time. For Martin Newell has a considerable body of work behind him. I have been aware of him for years, and read the odd poem. But never seen him and his Hosepipe Band in concert. Which may be a good thing: for Martin will surely not just want to sell CDs to his coterie of fans. He will want to ambush total newcomers with the beauty of his work, and hey, I am potentially that man. So what did I think?
Well, the first thing I thought is how apposite this should come to me now, seeing as I have just come back from a holiday in Burgh Castle and travelled to virtually every town from Cromer down to Aldeburgh mentioned in his Black Shuck poem. And if that was not enough, as someone who as a young man lived in Clacton and Colchester for over two years, I was more than familiar with the geographical setting for his The Song Of The Waterlily; indeed, in the last ten years I have twice holidayed on Mersea Island, and twice on the Dengie Peninsula. So you might say that I am steeped in the area. And that whole area incidentally, is Martin’s artistic fiefdom: it is where he has built up a large local fan base.
Why do I mention all this personal stuff? Well, because it may explain why I enjoyed these albums so much. It was like a trip down Memory Lane for me: indeed, even his most recent CD – The Green Children & Other Poems – features the Suffolk village of Woolpit, and I have even been into the church and stood in the churchyard there… on a Rick Keeling pilgrimage.
But for people unfamiliar with East Anglia: would I recommend they buy these albums? Not sure. But I think they would enjoy them some.
The Green Children is the story of two children of unusual skin colour who appeared in Woolpit, Suffolk in the 12th century. Martin tells the story in well constructed stanzas that scan beautifully, and they are redolent of a kind of hard edged John Betjeman… even down to the injections of music, that bring to mind Banana Blush. Mind you there was nothing on Betjeman’s first “trendy” LP that was half as pleasurable musically as here with Val Woollard’s recorder on her composition Green Children. It was the musical highlight for me. (That said, The Hosepipe Band all know what they are doing, and they never played a jarring note on either album, and there are several composers amongst them, all of whom rivalled Val and pushed hard for the best composition prize which I have just awarded her.)
Of the two poems on the 2015 album, I liked Black Shuck the best. The rhythms were this time redolent of another of my favourite poets: Robert W. Service. Quite apt really, given that Service wrote about a Yukon that was raw and rough: and Shuck the sinister ghostly dog that stalked the fens, was that alright… and more!
With regard to The Song Of The Waterlily: it helps if you are interested in the building of a boat. Martin expertly describes each part of the boat as it is assembled and what it does: but give me dear old Swarb singing Sailor’s Alphabet, every time. That gets to me quicker, and topped up with Stan Rogers singing The Mary Ellen Carter… well, then my eyes will surely mist over.
But hey, The Song Of The Waterlily was in itself, perfectly fine. It’s just that a part of me would have loved Shuck to have smuggled himself on board and cause a tad more excitement.