Various Artists (from the album Joy of Living; A Tribute to Ewan MacColl on Compass Records) - Joy of Living; A Tribute to Ewan MacCollcollects the songs of a folk musician dubbed the godfather of the British Folk revival. The compilation is less a revisit of hits; it showcases the respect for the musician, and the continuing influence, and range, of his music. Ewan MacColl was born to Scottish parents, both of whom were socialists. The atmosphere at home was fierce political debates and a file was open for the teenager, still using his birth name James Miller, by British Intelligence’s MI5 division by the time he was seventeen. Local police claimed he was ‘a communist with very extreme views’. He fully brought his upbringing and championing of the workers by signing Ewan MacColl on his drama scripts as of 1945. A love of Folk music was a part of Ewan’s life, and his enthusiasm grew from the inspiration found in the work of Alan Lomax, who had began extensive field work in Great Britain and Ireland in 1950. Ewan began to collect traditional ballads, performing them with his own songs, many of which had been written for the theatre.
Paul Buchanan (The Blue Nile) performs Grammy-winning “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, a song that Ewan MacColl had written quickly for third wife Peggy Seeger to perform in a play. Steve Earle (“Dirty Old Town”), Billy Bragg (“Kilroy Was Here”), Christie Moore (“Los Campaneros”), and David Gray on the title track gather to tribute the politics of Ewan MacColl. The short youth of mine workers flashes by with Darien Dempsey singing “Schooldays Over”. Celtic Folk backs Martin Carthy’s claim of “I'm Champion at Keeping 'Em Rolling” as Indie Folk quietly flows under Bombay Bicycle Club on “The Young Birds” and Jarvis Cocker (solo, Pulp) unravels a slow revolving rhythm as he stiches word fragments onto “The Battle Is Done With”.