‘When I sing a song, my mind is on it’

A discography of recordings of Harry Cox – produced 50 years on from Harry’s death

Harry Cox (1885-1971) of Catfield in Norfolk is rightly regarded as one of England’s finest traditional singers. He had a working repertoire of well over a hundred songs, as well as many other snippets, and also played fiddle, melodeon and whistle. He was extensively recorded throughout his life by many people right up until his death. Many, although by no means all, of these recordings have seen the light of day in one way or another, although unfortunately not all are still available today. In fact only those available on Topic Records still have general common currency.

Harry was first recorded in 1934 (see below) and then much more extensively by Peter Kennedy in 1953 as well as to a much lesser degree by other collectors at the time and in following decades. Further recordings by others, including those supervised by the composer E J Moeran in 1947, have provided an extensive record of the man and his music. I have divided the discography into sections: 78 rpm records, LPs, CDRs, commercial CDs and compilation EPs, LPs and CDs on which Harry features. I have tried to be as comprehensive as I can and hope there are no glaring omissions.

78 rpm records

EFDSS LP, Decca, 1934

A recording made at Decca Studios in London for the English Folk Song and Dance Society in 1934, featuring (on 2 sides) The Bold Fisherman and The Pretty Ploughboy (both available on Topic compilation CDs: see below.)

LP records

Folk Legacy FSE 20

Peter Kennedy recorded Harry extensively in 1953, and possibly in subsequent years up to 1956. Some of his recordings appeared on the following LP records:

Traditional English Love Songs: Folk Legacy FSE 20 (1964)

Harry Cox Sings English Love Songs: DTS Records LFX4 (1964)

Harry Cox: English Folk Singer: EFDSS LP 1004 (1965)

Peter Kennedy CDRs

Peter Kennedy
Credit: http://www.peterkennedyarchive.org/

Peter Kennedy released most of his field recordings from Britain and Ireland on cassette on his Folktrax label in the 1970s. They were later released as CDRs. The full recordings of Harry Cox were:

Love Songs: Folktrax 032 (same as the LPs of similar titles, above):
As I Roved Out (Seventeen Come Sunday)
The Spotted Cow
Next Monday Morning
The Greasy Cook
Colin and Phoebe
The Man from Dover (The Burningham Boys)
Betsy, the Servant Maid
The Long Peggin’ Awl
The London Merchant (The Old Miser)
The Bonny Labouring Boy
The Female Drummer
The Squire and the Gypsy
The Old Woman of Yorkshire (Marrowbones)
The Game-cock (The Groggy old Tailor)
Up to the Rigs of London Town
The German Musicianer
The Maid of Australia
Rap-Tap-Tap (The Farmer’s Servant Man)

Sea Songs: Folktrax 033
The Yarmouth Fishermen’s Song
The Captain’s Apprentice
The Poor Smuggler’s Boy
The Bold Fisherman
Sweet William
The Soldier and the Sailor
The Greenland Whalecatchers
The Turkish Lady
Cruising Round Yarmouth
Jack Tar on Shore
Johnn Reilly
The London Man-o’-War (The Dolphin)
The Death of Nelson
Scarboro’s Banks
The Good Luck Ship
The Sailor Cut Down in his Prime (The Unfortunate Rake)
Edmund in the Lowlands Low
The Pretty Ploughboy       

Documentary: Songs and Stories of Country Life: Folktrax 034          
(A slightly expanded version of the EFDSS LP, as above)
Widdliecombe Fair (Beggar’s Song)
The Pretty Ploughboy (tune on fiddle)
Talk about himself
Toast, What Will Become of England?
Talk about his father
Another Toast
Waltz Tune (on melodeon)
Talk about music at home
Schottische (on melodeon)
Talk about Singing in pubs
Two Hornpipes (on fiddle)
The Foggy Dew
The Knife in the Window (Nancy and Johnny)
Firelock Stile
The Crabfish
The Barley Straw
Barton Broad Babbing Ballad
The ‘Prentice Boy (The Oxford Girl)
Windy old Weather (The Fishes Song)
Newlyn Town (The Wild and Wicked Youth)
The Bonny Bunch of Roses-O
Adieu to old England, Adieu
Blackberry Fold
A Week’s Matrimony

Commercial CDs

What will Become of England? Rounder 11661-1839-2  (2000)

Recordings made by Peter Kennedy and a few by Alan Lomax in 1953. Released as part of the Alan Lomax Collection: Portraits series. Note: the booklet notes for this release are not always accurate. Many tracks are very short and may have been heavily edited as well.

What will Become of England?
My Life (talk)
A-Going to Widdliecombe Fair
Working in a Gang (talk)
The Spotted Cow
Barton Waltz
The Harvest (talk)
The Barley Straw
The Farmer’s Servant
The Pretty Ploughboy
My Grandfather and my Father (talk)
Jack Tar on Shore
Two Hornpipes: Yarmouth and Meg Merilees
On Board the Kangaroo
Young and Growing
My Mother (talk)
My Upbringing (talk)
The Foggy Dew
Hunger and Pay (talk)
Three Toasts
Nelson’s Monument
I Used to go Along of him (talk)
Barton Broad Babbing Ballad
Babbling for Eels (talk)
Talk and Melodeon Pieces
Singing in Public Houses (talk)
Charming and Delightful
The Old Songs (talk)
On Yon Lofty Mountain
Learning from my Father (talk)
She Never Had Time to Sit Down (talk)
The Turkish Lady
Poaching (talk)
Henry the Poacher
Windy Old Weather
My Father at Sea (talk)
Sweet William
How my Father Learned Songs (talk)
The Yarmouth Fishermen’s Song
The Crocodile
The Soldier and Sailor’s Prayer
London is as Sharp as the Edge of a Knife
Up to the Rigs of London Town
Up to the Present I ain’t Forgot Anything Yet (talk)
Blackberry Fold
Adieu to old England, Here’s Adieu

The Bonny Labouring Boy Topic TSCD512D  (2000)

This is a two CD set of recordings made between 1945 and 1970 by a variety of collectors. It includes a sixty page booklet with extensive notes about Harry’s life, photographs and song texts; contributions are from Reg Hall, Paul Marsh, Chris Heppa and Steve Roud: essential reading about Harry’s life and music. The recordings were made variously by Charles Parker, Ewan MacColl, Leslie Shepard, Frank Purslow, Mervyn Plunkett, Sheila Park, Bob Thomson and Michael Grosvenor Myer, Tony Singleton, Cliff Godbold and in Sutton Windmill by the BBC in 1945 and 1947, the latter supervised by E J Moeran.

Side 1:
“You must get the tune first” (talk)
The Female Drummer
“People what don’t like to hear an old song” (talk)
Two Jolly Butchers
Polka (melodeon)
“When I sing a song my mind is on it” (talk)
Bold Archer
There’s Bound to be a Row
Betsy the Servant Maid
Firelock Stile
The Green Mossy Banks of the Lee
The Pretty Ploughboy (song / fiddle)
The Watercress Girl
A Week’s Matrimony
The Black Velvet Band
A Hornpipe (fiddle)
The Maid of Australia
Alone, Alone in London
Miss Doxy
The Bonny Labouring Boy
The Good Luck Ship
The Fowler
In Scarborough Fair Town
I Had an Old Hoss
The Green Bed
A Jig (melodeon)
The Bold Drover
Side 2:
A Schottische (melodeon)
Black-Hearted Gypsies O
The Rigs of the Times
The Grand Hotel
The Transports (song / fiddle)
Where the Shamrocks Grow
Barton Broad Ditty
Adieu to Old England
Bold Fisherman
A Polka (fiddle)
Ekefield Town
A Happy Family
Old Joe, the Boat is Going Over (melodeon)
Blackberry Fold
They Told Me in the Gaol
The Fowler (fiddle)
Colin and Phoebe
Jack Tar on Shore
The Turkish Lady
A Slow Stepdance Tune (melodeon)
Lost Lady Found
Coming Home from the Wake
The Poacher’s Fate
The Poor Smuggler’s Boy
 A Hornpipe (dancing doll and voice)
 The Bonny Bunch of Roses O

Compilation EPs

The Barley Mow: Songs from the Village Inn EMI / HMV 7EG 8288  (1957)

EMI / HMV 7EG 8288 (1957)

The Foggy Dew (Recorded by Peter Kennedy in Sutton Windmill; there are other East Anglian singers on the release.)

Compilation LPs

Harry featured on many compilation LPs and CDs over the years. He has a few songs included on volumes of the Folk Songs of Britain series, originally released on the American Caedmon label in 1961 but later reissued on Topic in the 1960s and 1970s. These are recordings from Peter Kennedy and, once again, are not always the full performance of the song.

Volume 2: Songs of Seduction 12T158  (1968)
Long Pegging Awl
The Maid of Australia
Cruising Round Yarmouth (This had an expanded CD release: see below.)

Volume 5: The Child Ballads, Volume 2 12T161  (1968)
The Gypsy Laddie
Our Goodman (The Cuckold’s Song) (This had an expanded CD release: see below.)

Volume 7: Fair Game and Foul 12T195  (1970)
Polly Vaughan.

Field Trip England: Folkways FW8871 (1959)

The Unfortunate Rake:
The Young Sailor Cut Down in his Prime – the same track on each LP.

Folkways FS3805 (1960)

Compilation CDs

A few of the Caedmon / Topic releases above had CD releases later:

Songs of Seduction: Rounder 1778 (2000) The same tracks as on the LP above but with the addition of Knife in the Window.

The Child Ballads, Volume 2 – as Classic Ballads of Britain and Ireland: Rounder 1776 (2000). The same tracks as on the LP above.

East Coast Fishermen: Helions Bumpstead Gramophone Company NLCD6  (no date)
A selection of Neil Lanham’s recordings, mostly from Suffolk. There are a few Norfolk fishermen included and there is a live recording of Harry singing The Greenland Whale Fishery, Sutton, recorded in mid 1960s.

Sea Songs and Shanties: Saydisc CDSL 405  (1994)
The Yarmouth Fishermen’s Song
Cruising Round Yarmouth
Jack Tar on Shore  (Peter Kennedy recordings)

A Century of song: EFDSS CD02  (1998)
The Pretty Ploughboy (1934 recording, as above)

The Pigeon on the Gate: Melodeon Players from East Anglia (Veteran VTDC11CD)    (2008)
Examples of Harry’s melodeon playing: Jenny Lind, Barndance, Schottische, Schottische, John Brown’s Body, Waltz  and Hornpipe.

East Anglia Sings: Snatch’d from Oblivion Records (part of Musical Traditions) SFO 005  (2009)

E J ‘Jack’ Moeran
from the C Holderness archive

Recordings made by the BBC in October 1947 (supervised by E J Moeran) and broadcast on the Third Programme later that year. Recordings were made in Eastbridge Eel’s Foot, Suffolk, and Sutton Windmill, Norfolk. Harry sings four songs:

Introduction (E J Moeran)
Introduction to Eel’s Foot (Mrs Harding step dancing)
Jumbo Brightwell: The False Hearted Knight
Fred Ginger: The Old Sow
Jack Clark: The Dark-eyed Sailor
Introduction to the Windmill (E J Moeran)
John ‘Charger’ Salmons: Rigs of the Times
Charlie Chettleburgh: Lost Lady Found
Harry Cox: The Bonny Bunch of Roses
Harry Cox: Barton Broad Ditty
Walter Gales: As I Walked out one May Morning
William Miller: Happy and Delightful
Elijah Bell: The Wreck of the Ramillies
Harry Cox: The Barley Straw
Harry Cox: The Fowler
Outro and Credits.

Topic Records’ Voice of the People Series

This essential twenty-volume set of themed recordings is drawn from a wide variety of performers from the British Isles and Ireland. All were released in 1998. Harry is featured on four of them:

Volume 1: Let Us Buy the Licence TSCD651
Track 9: The Bold Fisherman – recorded at Decca Studios, London, 1934 (see 78 rpm disc, above).

Volume 2: My Ship Shall Sail the Ocean TSCD652
Track 14: The Pretty Ploughboy – recorded at Decca Studios, London, 1934 (see 78 rpm disc, above).

Volume 12: We’ve Received Orders to Sail TSCD662
Track 4: Just as the Tide was A-Flowing – recorded in Sutton, Norfolk, 1945
Track 11: Come All You Men Throughout the Nation – recorded in Bourne, Cambridgeshire, 1959
Track 22: The Bold Princess Royal – recorded in Sutton, Norfolk, 1945

Volume 17: It fell on a Day, a Bonny Summer Day TSCD667
Track 10: In Worcester City – recorded in Catfield, Norfolk, 1958
Track 15: Young Edmund – recorded in Catfield, Norfolk, late 1950s

Voice of the People – Second Series:
Good People, Take Warning: Ballads by British and Irish Traditional Singers (Topic TSCD673T)  (2011)
CD 2 Track 2 The Crabfish – recorded in Catfield, Norfolk, 1953
CD 3 Track 8 The Squire and the Gypsy – recorded in Catfield, Norfolk, 1953

In all, an extensive collection of recordings of this highly-regarded performer whose outstanding repertoire of the traditional song and music of Broadland Norfolk is very evident throughout. He was a great inspiration to other performers during his lifetime and continues to be so to this day.

Chris Holderness
For the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust February 2021; uploaded May 2021 – 50 years after Harry’s death.

EATMT have also uploaded another article remembering Harry 50 years on (May 2021) and included on this page are two recordings of Harry singing previously unheard material. You can find that HERE