Bawdy British Ballads

1 Jan 1968
Written by: 
David Betteridge

Theo Johnson first saw the light of Folk Music in a small fishing village called Culowercoats in Northumberland [Cullercoats, Tyne and Wear, ed]. Born there in 1930 he soon grew into a big bouncing boy with a booming voice of much depth, which he attributed to his mother, a well known opera singer, and mullet stew three times a day. Venturing from this seclusion he joined the Merchant Navy in 1944 travelling to the four corners of the globe, collecting folk songs from many nations.

Finally leaving the Navy in 1953 he took up residency in London and began to sing at BUNGIES [sic] that well known folk club and coffee house in Soho; he still as a matter of fact sings there today. Perhaps his favourite venue is THE BARGE at Kingston on Thames, this picturesque Dutch sailing barge echoes with ribaldry and mirth three times a week, whether the tide's in or out. Ably assisting in the proceedings in fine style are the three gents who go by the names of Dave Whaite [sic] (Banjo), Dave Shelley (twelve string guitar) and Roger Evans (six string guitar).

After much sifting of material 15 pieces of bawdy and definitely lewd folk songs were picked out, and we offer to you this magnificent contribution to the English speaking language. The first one concerns a gentleman who goes under the name of BRIAN BAROO a gent of heroic proportions and a very vigorous love life. I think you will like this one, it is my favourite anyway. Also in fine style is THE LUSTY BLACKSMITH, 2 minutes 30 seconds of very hot work telling a tale of a lusty young blacksmith and an equally lusty young maid. Bringing the record down in tempo for a moment, THE CHASTITY BELT a tale of long ago relating to a lost key and the hope that the above belt might be unlocked by some means. I am very glad to say that this one ends happily and so we go on; through CRUISING DOWN TO YARMOUTH, THE IRISH TINKER, GENTLY JOHNNIE BY JINGLE O and on to the LIMERICKS, in many ways probably the best part of the record.

Here it is then – dished up to you a very generous ration of all the best in Bawdy British Ballads, no tainting from foreign sources but pure genuine British rudery at its very best, sung with vigour and very forcible drive by big Theo Johnson and his merry band of men whose experience in this form of merriment is unparalleled. From the very depth of their artistic souls, the very essence of ribaldry and comedy, this titillating dish of laughter is placed before you; try a basinful, it's very tasty. I hope you enjoy it, I know I did.