Boomkat Product Review:
Fireside Stories (Hebden Bridge circa 1971-1974), from the unearthed tapes of a totally unknown teenager folk singer from early 1970s Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, England.
"Recorded in the attic of the family home at Ivy Bank in Charlestown on the verdant wooded slopes at the edge of Hebden Bridge between 1971 and 1974, these early recordings are collected here for the first time and mark Trevor Beales long-overdue solo debut. In these songs is a suffer-no-fools sense of realism that is defiantly Northern, yet also expresses a worldliness that belies Beales’ young years, whilst also showcasing an inherent storyteller’s ear for narrative. Here is a postcard from the past at that crucial musical period of transition, when the idealistic exponents of the 1960s emerged into an austere new decade that was to be shaped by strikes, rising unemployment and economic upheaval.
Two aspects of this music make it remarkable: Beales’ natural ability showcases a sophisticated guitar-picking style that was leagues ahead of many of his (older, more recognised) contemporaries. This is music that can confidently hold its own with pioneers such as Davey Graham, Michael Chapman, Dave Evans, Bert Jansch and Jackson C Frank, as influenced by jazz, blues and steel guitar as any of the old songbook classics from ancient Albion.
Secondly, his lyrics are a far cry from either the naïve bedroom scribblings of a teenager who has barely left his upland home, nor do they fall foul of the type of lazy cliches and sub-Tolkien imagery that was still in abundance in the early 1970s. Trevor’s music is grounded in reality – his reality. ‘Then I’ll Take You Home’, for example, considers the Guru Marajai, who encouraged his acolytes to give over their worldly possessions, yet who drove a Rolls Royce and lived like a playboy. Unsurprisingly, this latest in a long line of spiritual charlatans found several followers in Hebden Bridge, and Beales casts a disdainful eye over the growing popularity for such false prophets. With its ancient narratives and propensity for myth-making, folk has certainly produced it’s fair share of cult figures who have enjoyed rediscovery or career resurgence and with this debut compilation of home recordings, rescued from cassette tapes, Trevor Beales might just be the latest addition. Certainly he was the real deal.
Crucially, Beales' music is never jaded or cynical, but instead possesses a poet’s ear, a strong sense of self and some sound critical faculties. And much of it recorded at an age when he could neither vote nor order a pint of heavy."