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JACK WARSHAW & FRIENDS - Misfits Migrants And Murders 

JACK WARSHAW & FRIENDS - Misfits Migrants And Murders 
Combine Music 

I first came across Jack Warshaw’s name as an accompanist for Frankie Armstrong on her first Topic LP, Lovely On The Water, in 1972. Then I saw intermittent mentions in Melody Maker’s Folk Pages as a contributor to sessions in the Singers Club at London’s Bull and Mouth, along with Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger. This heightened my interest in Mr Warshaw, a New Yorker transplanted to England in the late 60s. The next sighting was his composer credit for If They Come In The Morning by the Men Of No Property on their 1976 album - a song later recorded by Christy Moore with Planxty and Moving Hearts, which in its naked honesty pulls no punches and talks of corruption, surveillance and collusion in a police state. This song proved to me that Jack Warshaw was not only an able multi-instrumentalist, but very much a contemporary socially based songwriter in the Woody Guthrie / Jim Page model.

Here, Jack sings his own songs, and this particular album echoes old timey Americana mixed with the protest folk school. The sardonic Little Britain pokes fun at the Europeanisation of English life, while the high lonesome sound of Constant Sorrow recalls O Brother Where Art Thou. The protest folk angle rears its head on Grenfell Fire (sung to the tune of Two Magicians), Migrant Song and a revisit of If They Come In The Morning – and it’s a pleasure to encounter the latter as written. The narrative ballad style with a political punch as typified by Ewan MacColl is evident here, and in You Ain’t My President, dedicated to a certain US president, Jack Warshaw’s laconic vocals recall John Prine in tone and the laid back arrangements make for a solid listen. The voice of the late Tom Paley makes an appearance on the traditional Fiddling Soldier. Here, Jack Warshaw’s commitment to social activism through music and his absorption of American folk and old timey music produces honest, heartfelt and committed socially conscious folk music of the first order.

John O’Regan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 127 of The Living Tradition magazine.