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Monday 14 October 2019

Heidi In Love & Light

We've been fortunate enough to have seen Irish folk singer Heidi Talbot twice at Paisley Arts Centre and at Glasgow's Mitchell Theatre as part of Celtic Connections.
She is married to fiddle John McCusker and now resides in Scotland.

From 2008 In Love & Light is either her 2nd or 3rd solo album dependant on which source you read.
It is the only CD I picked up on the first week of our holidays in Fort William en route to Kinlochmoidart in the Ardamurchan peninsula. We were staying in a cottage in the grounds of Kinlochmoidart House with no phone signal or internet access. Bliss.
The only other place within miles where CDs were available was the Fisherman's Mission in Mallaig but none there took my fancy.

A combination of traditional folk songs plus some singer/songwriter tunes delivered in a Celtic stylee and all delivered wonderfully by Heidi and her stellar backing crew (Boo Hewerdine, McCusker,Eddi Reader, Kris Drever and many others).
Oh, and Heidi unleashes her inner Don Estelle with a version of Whispering Grass.Unbelievably the song by two characters from the racist and xenophobic alleged comedy TV show  It Ain't Half Hot Mum reached number 1 in the UK singles charts in 1975. Some of the stuff on TV in the 70's and which is portayed as comedy is quite toe curling.
Heidi does her best to repair the damage.

Heidi Talbot - If You Stay

Heidi Talbot - Whispering Grass


  1. "It Ain't Half Hot Mum" is not the "xenophobic and homophobic" series you claim. It never was and never will be. The class-ridden attitudes of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Arthur Digby St John Reynolds and Captain Jonathan Tarquin 'Tippy' Ashwood were perfectly portrayed by Donald Hewlett and Michael Knowles. My father served in India, Burma and Singapore in WW2 (he still lives BTW) and he loved this series. He spoke fluent Urdu and loved his tiume in India in particular. The Japanese end of the time was not such fun. He said the senior officers over there were exactly like the two in charge in the series. Perry and Croft based them on officers they had experienced in Poona.
    The cartoon-like homophobic attitudes of Battery Sergeant Major Tudor Bryn 'Shut Up' Williams is unflinchingly shown by the very talented Windsor Davies. Classic "gestic" theatrical playing which demonstrates rather than preaches (we used to be quite good at understanding Drama us British audiences you know). Gloria and the rest of the girls/ boys in the troupe were a wonderful mix a crew of men trying to avoid direct military involvement in the war and some "light-on-their-loafers" chaps keen to strike a theatrical pose wherever it took them.
    Vogueing in Deolali anyone?
    They were all part of the Royal Artillery which meant they were soldiers rather than members of ENSA and could be "sent up the Front" (fnaar, fnaaar) at any time. The role of Michael Bates as Rangi Ram was a knowing piss-take of the horror of the B&W Minstrels ("I didn't do Blackface. I only donned a Light Tan"). The Urdu backchat of the punka wallah has parallels with the role of Meena in Still Game. No less than the Times in 2005 wrote how the entire series "perfectly lampooned the British in India at the end of the war and in the final days of the Empire" (I'm paraphrasing here). This series is not the one-dimensional thing you suggest. It is much, much more complex, dramatic and theatrical than your cursory dismissal. The "poofs" and "Front Dodgers" always win, the Battery Sargeat is always humiliated and the toff Officers are made to look ridiculous. The Indian characters are always one step ahead of their colonial masters and nothing works without them.
    As for "Whispering Grass" what a tune, what a lyric. Did you ever hear Sandy Denny's version? Sounds like she knocked it off in twenty minutes but it still beats the dust out of pretty much anyone else's version.

  2. Thanks for that Sid - very interesting. obviously more to it than I was aware of.
    Haven't heard Sandy's version but anything she sings is normally better that the alternatives

  3. Heidi Talbot does a beautiful version of "Whispering Grass" - gorgeous sweet voice. Will check out her albums.

  4. I can't bring myself to play that video. I was expecting an Osmonds cover!

  5. Nice try Sid but.....xenophobic and homophobic it absolutely was. Of course, indubitably, it was 'of it's time' but that's where the humour of that time was derived. If it was lampoon it was so at a very long stretch for me, I found it toe-curlingly awful even then.

    I haven't heard Sandy Denny's version either but will check it out. Always thought the Ink Spots were known for the definitive, if not original version.