FUZZY FELT FOLK
The Fuzzy-Felt Brand has been used by kind permission
of Mandolyn Limited. Copyright Fuzzy-Felt 2006. www.fuzzyfelt.com
Hello and welcome to an explanation of Fuzzy-Felt Folk. This peculiar genre of sound came in to being one afternoon a few years ago when I was listening to kooky, childish records with fellow collector Martin Green. He played me the recording he'd found of "The Elf" which I found extremely charming, and when we tried to put our finger on exactly the sort of sound it was, Martin said 'Fuzzy-Felt Folk". It's a phrase that has stayed with me ever since and perfectly explains this quite wonderful area of sound.
The music has to have a childish, sweet sound but at the same time can have an old fashioned, spooky edge. This is music you may well have heard growing up and that also sound relevant and fine right now. These are the kind of gentle sounds you could (and possibly should) play to your children today. The tracks compiled on this album are quite something - we go from rare unreleased soundtrack demos to naive experimental psychedelia and even some rare music from seminal arts and craft-based TV series "Vision On" There is music made for dancing, skipping and dreaming. And of course for prancing around old school assembly halls acting like a tree.
The fuzzy felt insert listing the following fuzzy felt items were bagged and inserted into 50 copies of the fuzzy felt folk LP
1) A bag of fuzzy parrots and butterflies
2) A fuzzy clown with a yellow top
3) A fuzzy clown with a blue top
4) A white fuzzy poodle and ball
5) A fuzzy tree
6) Two small fuzzy heads
7) A fuzzy donkey
8) A fuzzy white rabbit
9) An even smaller fuzzy white baby bunny
10) A fuzzy grey leaping doggy
11) two fuzzy bodies and two fuzzy heads
12) An orange fuzzy tractor (Prize winner)
13) A fuzzy brown hare
14) A fuzzy black cat
15) A fuzzy black goat
16) A fuzzy red running boy
17) A large black fuzzy horse
18) A small brown fuzzy tortoise
19) A large grey fuzzy elephant
20) Another large grey fuzzy elephant
21) A black fuzzy Sea lion with a green fuzzy ball
22) A trotting black fuzzy pony with a green fuzzy flower
23) A small pink fuzzy bird
24) A little white fuzzy running rabbit
25) A bright yellow fuzzy goose
26) A little white fuzzy goose
27) A small off-pink fuzzy piglet
28) A little fuzzy blue boy with one leg
29) A cool black fuzzy pig
30) Another fuzzy tree with red and green bits
31) A white fuzzy swallow with three little flowers
32) A fuzzy lion
33) A cool stripy fuzzy tiger
34) A brown fuzzy cow
35) Another black fuzzy Sea Lion, this time with a red fuzzy ball
36) A small white trotting fuzzy horse
37) A brown standing fuzzy bear
38) A little grey fuzzy doggy who looks a bit sad
39) A small funny brown coloured fuzzy monkey
40) A galloping black fuzzy horse
41) A running brown fuzzy bunny
42) A pink kneeling fuzzy girl
43) A cool prancing black fuzzy cat
44) A fuzzy jumping white cat
45) A small white fuzzy chicken
46) A fuzzy man, with black trousers and fuzzy red top
47) A little white fuzzy duckling
48) A small fuzzy baby lamb
49) It's a proud fuzzy chicken
50) What looks like a fuzzy felt goat
The front cover imagery is from the original 1968 Fuzzy-Felt Fantasy set, which we thought was a bit more appropriate than using the cover from, say, Fuzzy Felt Hospital. Here are the tracks...
- I Start Counting (Demo) - Basil Kirchin
- Singing Low - The Barbara Moore Singers
- Merry Ocarina - Pierre Arvay
- Tiffany Glass - Orriel Smith
- Folk Guitar - Claude Vasori
- Twinkle Twinkle - Christopher Casson
- Cuckoo - Arthur Birkby
- Spin Spider Spin - Peggy Zeitlin
- Winds Of Space -Orriel Smith
- The Elf - The Barbara Moore Singers
- The Troll - Reg Tilsley
- My Mother Said - Christopher Casson
- Hey Robin - The Barbara Moore Singers
- Oh Dear What Can The Matter Be - Christopher Casson
- Teddy Bears Picnic - Performed by The Piggleswick Folk - With kind permission of The Piggleswick Folk
And here is a very rough guide to some of the cues you can hear if you were to really push the boat out and get a copy of this baby. are now lucky enough to be hearing. And if you ask me you are really lucky to even have access to some of this wondrous sound. This stuff takes years to find, and then even longer to track down the owners. And when it's finally all done, mastered, lovingly packaged and finally distributed Trunk Records makes bugger all. Enough for a round of toast maybe. Or a bus ride to the seaside.
Anyway, the music all begins with "I Start Counting", an unreleased demo courtesy of the Basil Kirchin archive. Basil, a truly British experimental composer wrote this music for a peculiar late 1960s British movie. Originally he wanted Cilla Black to sing the lyrics, he loved her voice so much. However she was not available (possibly due to contractual commitments elsewhere) and Basil ended up using his drummers daughter to quickly sing it for this demo. He couldn't remember her name, or for that matter, his drummer name either. And we know nothing, except that this is almost beyond sublime.
"The Elf" is a true oddity. Found under a magic stone by Martin Green, this mysterious scatty number was sung by the legendary Barbara Moore Singers and was originally recorded for children's movement and mime classes. The same can be said for the other Arthur Birkby penned numbers - "Cuckoo", "Hey Robin" and "Singing Low". I wonder if children still have those classes after assembly, you know the ones where you wear unmarking plimsoles and run around the hall or the gym to slightly spooky music all the while acting like a fish or a seed growing into a tree. Those were the proper days I reckon. I might start an evening class doing it all again for adults.
And on we dance towards "Merry Ocarina", a number from deep within the De Wolfe music catalogue. This track appeared sympathetically often throughout the 1960s and early 1970s in the incredibly progressive BBC Children's TV for the hard of hearing "Vision On". A real melting pot of incredible British talent, the series included animation, inside and outsider art as well as regular strange performance. "Merry Ocarina" was one of a handful of tracks used extensively throughout this long running series, and was heard each episode as backing for every "Humphrey The Tortoise" sequence. This is the first time it has been made available commercially. You lucky people.
A few years ago the BBC sold off a large number of its singles collection. Nearly 20,000 7" discs were dispersed very quickly indeed through shops, charity organisations and so forth. Salvaged from this vast collection was a rare copy of "Tiffany Glass" and "Winds Of Space". These two quite unique (and unknown) pieces of soulful, experimental jazzy-folk were put together by Phillip Lambro, the prodigious American composer, writer and soundtracker. Using the words of two different poet writers, the tracks were arranged and then issued by Lambro's own short lived label "Tudor Records". Phillip Lambro went on to score for several cool movies, including Murph The Surf (being reissued on CD this year) and Orriel Smith can be found singing on Lambro's rare score for "Crypt Of The Living Dead". An Orriel Smith LP was planned at the time but sadly was never made. These are the only two recordings.
We're also lucky to be able to include the rare and hypnotic Claude Vasori number known as "Folk Guitars" here. Vasori's track was originally issued on the fine French Musique Pour L'Image label and was subsequently issued out from the UK on the just as fine Sylvester label in the late 1960s. It's a rare, simple and quite addictive number that I never tire of.
As for Spin Spider Spin, this is from an American Child's education recording. It is simple, effective and perfect to sing along too. Written and sung here by Peggy Zeitlin. We have no idea where she is now.
"The Troll", a mechanical and orchestral folk oddity was recorded in 1969 by Reg Tilsley and also hails from the fine De Wolfe library. Issued on the scarce "Quietly With Johan" ten inch LP it completed an unusual double bill of late 1960s children toy themed tracks: the other is the classic Herbert Chappell number known simply as "The Gonk". Just so you are clear about all this - A Troll is a mythical, sometimes fearsome beastie from Scandinavia folklore. You'd find them all over the place in the late 1960s and 1970s normally made of wood, rabbit fur and with big stick on eyes.
And finally we come to Piggleswick Folk. An intriguing bunch, they put together their own vocal harmony based folk LP in the early 1970s, and at the time were spending a lot of time on the road, touring with Pam Ayres. Eventually both acts were to appear on TV, Piggleswick Folk on New Faces, Pam Ayres on Opportunity Knocks. The rest is British folk history. Well sort of. Teddy Bears Picnic is from their only LP issued by the obscure Acorn Label. Two members of Piggleswick Folk are still performing today, now in the busy barn dance band "Tumbledown Dick" and can be booked for your wedding or traditional doo - www.tumbledowndick.com
Well I think that's quite enough information for one CD. Special thanks must go to Mandy Hayes from Fuzzy-Felt for believing this was a great idea in the first place. I am in total agreement with her.
Buy this album now on CD or vinyl now although the vinyl has probably all gone already