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Leon Rosselson - An Introduction To A Folk Colossus

Amazong Songs From An Amazing Man

By Mike Singleton 🌜 Mikeydred 🌛Published 5 months ago • Updated 2 months ago • 3 min read

Introduction

I discovered Leon Rosselson from covers of one of his songs, which I attempted myself and I won't expand on it but you can check it out here:

I was made aware of a four-CD retrospective covering from the nineteen sixties to 2010, I finally got a copy and it turned up today.

There are four discs:

  • The Sixties
  • The Seventies
  • The Eighties
  • The Nineties To 2010

I was shocked.

The singing and playing are incredibly good and the songs are very left-wing but also clever and funny. It is seldom that an artist can grab me so quickly and just make me want for more.

The set comes with an informative booklet about all the songs, so I will share a few with you in this playlist. I will choose a couple of songs from each disc for you to enjoy a little of this great man's work.

The full playlist is here but I will choose a few great ones for you

If the songs won't play go to Leon's site here and the links there should play for you

The Sixties

"Conversion On A Mobile"

This is a sort of odd opener to the set. It opens the sixties disc but mobile phones didn't appear for another thirty years, but it is a great observation on mobile communication.

Leon gives us an insight into how he started songwriting, and how his early songs (and certainly later ones) are topical/satyrical, full of clever and impactful words.

His voice is light and ethereal but the words are often very powerful, almost an iron fist in a velvet glove.

"Battle Hymn of the New Socialist Party"

To the tune of "The Red Flag" in his words "the dirge-like Labour anthem" for the TV program "That Was The Week That Was", tongue firmly in cheek but a lot of serious points are included. Very easy to listen to with a pipe organ backing.

The Seventies

"Don't Get Married Girls"

This recommends that women should not trust men, no matter what. Women just put themselves first because men are just not worth the effort, great darkly comic song.

"Stand Up For Judas"

This is the story of this song from Leon:

Another song that has got me into trouble and no end of arguments. It was sparked off when one Xmas I saw a notice board outside a church off the Harrow Road in London. It displayed this message: "IF YOU BELIEVE NOT THAT I AM THE CHRIST YOU SHALL DIE IN YOUR SINS. A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year?

I came across a book by the Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby, Revolution in Judaea,and for me everything fell into place. The Gospels were written from forty to seventy years after Jesus was crucified. They were written from a pro-Roman, anti-Jewish viewpoint. You wouldn't know, from the Gospels, that Palestine was suffering from a cruel, oppressive, rapacious Roman occupation

He then scoured books including the Bible for all the contradictions and this was the result.

The Eighties

"Jackboot Democrats"

This is becoming more relevant every day in the United Kingdom.

I remember a march from Hyde Park, in January 1984, banners flying, bands playing, to protest against the abolition of Ken Livingstone's left-wing Greater London Council. "Thirty thousand aired their views/ Didn't even make the news.' Ah yes. 1984. 'That was a mean and nasty year/ Stone for a heart, acid for a tear/ Deaf to the wind, cut-glass stare/ Truncheon arms and barbed-wire hair/ Smiles for the rich, kicks for the poor/ Sod off 1984.

Jackboot DemocRATS' is a song about what was called the Thatcherite consensus, a ruling-class conspiracy with the complicity of the media to keep the plebs in their place. It was written in the satirical style of my early songs but more inventive.

"Ballad of a Spycatcher"

I remember this and this is the sort of thing our government is doing today

In 1987 the Thatcher government got the three Law Lords to bring in an injunction which prevented the publication in the UK of Peter Wright's spill-the-beans book Spycatcher, about the murky deeds of MI5. The injunction even made it illegal to quote from the book or refer to any of the events described in the book.

This outrageous act of censorship prompted the investigative journalist Duncan Campbell and the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom to ask me to encapsulate the book in a song whose illegality would show up the absurdity of the ban.

"Talking Democracy Blues"

Where we are politically. Another example of this man's brilliance. I suggest you take the time to listen to all the songs on that playlist as well as his other albums.

Leon Rosselson is a genius.

His website is here

Wikipedia is here

playlistsong reviewshistorycelebrities90s music80s music70s music60s music

About the Creator

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Comments (5)

  • Randy Wayne Jellison-Knock5 months ago

    None of the links would play here, but I followed the link to his website & was able to listen there. Pretty doggone impressive. We just returned from seeing "Bob Marley: One Love" & this was a nice treat when coming home. Thank you, Mike.

  • Test5 months ago

    Sounds like a super interesting guy. Can't say I'm much into the folk sound overall but I enjoyed learning more about one of the greats!

  • Daphsam5 months ago

    Another great collection of songs, thank you for opening up my ears two different sounds. 

  • Test5 months ago

    Your work is awesome keep up the good work

  • ROCK 5 months ago

    This was very interesting; as a collector of children's books I don't know how i missed him. I am going to check out his music NOW; especially "Don't Get Married Girls", haha. Excellent new information.

Mike Singleton 🌜 Mikeydred 🌛Written by Mike Singleton 🌜 Mikeydred 🌛

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