(1967) Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger – The Long Harvest, Vols 1-4

The Long Harvest – Traditional Ballads in Their English, Scots and North American Variants

Performed by: Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger (with sparing accompaniment on 5-string banjo, guitar, Appalachian dulcimer, concertina and autoharp)

Producer: Harley J. Usill
Engineer: Stan Goodall
Cover designs: Denis Turner

Released in: July 1967 (Vols 1-4), 1968 (Vols 5-10). Two further volumes (11 and 12) were recorded, but never released.

Argo issue numbers: DA 66 to DA 75, and ZDA 66 to ZDA 75

Availability: A 10CD set (plus a CD of notes) of The Long Harvest is available from Peggy Seeger’s website. I’ve read that the original Argo tapes were reported lost by their subsequent owners Polygram, so maybe the CDs are recorded from the vinyl.


As the title suggests, each LP covers four or five ballads (given in bold on the listings below with their Child number) of which MacColl and Seeger sing a number of different versions. Think of them as families of ballads, each of which were given a number by American music scholar Francis Child when he collated them in the late 19th century. (More of Child below in the notes)


LoHa_1[1]VOLUME 1 (Argo DA 66, ZDA 66)

The Twa Sisters (Child 10)
1    Minnorie
2    The Swan Swims Sae Bonnie
3    There was an Old Lord
4    Peter and I

The Cruel Mother (Child 20)
5    The Cruel Mother (A)
6    The Cruel Mother (B)
7    Down By the Geenwood Sidey-O
8    The Lady From Lee
9    The Cruel Mother (E)

Lord Randall
10  Lord Randall
11  Jimmy Randall
12  Henry My Son
13  Willy Doo
14  Croodin Doo

The Baffled Knight
16  The Shepherd Lad
17  Clear Away the Morning Dew
18  Katie Morey


LoHa_2[1]VOLUME 2 (Argo DA 67, ZDA 67)

Riddles Wisely Expounded (Child 1)
1    Riddles Wisely Expounded (England)
2    The Devil’s Nine Questions (American)

The Elfin Knight (Child 2)
3    The Elfin Knight (Scots)
4    O, Say Do You Know the Way to Selin (American)
5    Scarborough Fair (English)
6    The Elfin Knight (American)
7    The Cambric Shirt (American)
8    My Father Had an Acre of Land (English)

The Daemon Lover (Child 243)
9    The Daemon Lover (English)
10  The House Carpenter (American)
11  The House Carpenter (American)
12  Well Met, Well Met (American)

The Dreadful Ghost
13  The Dreadful Ghost (Canadian)

The Gosport Tragedy
14  The Ghost Ship (Englsih)
15  Pretty Polly (American)

LoHa_3[1]VOLUME 3 (Argo DA 68, ZDA 68)

Our Goodman (Child 274)
1   Our Goodman (Scots)
2    Five Nights Drunk (American)

Lamkin (Child 93)
3    Lamkin (Scots)
4    Lammkin (American)

The Gypsy Laddie (Child 200)
5    The Gypsy Laddie (Scots)
6    Black Jack Davy (American)
7    The Heartless Lady (American)
8    Harrison Brady (American)

The Broomfield Hill (Child 43)
9    The Broomfield Hill (Scots)
10  Fair Maid on the Shore (American)

The Grey Cock (Child 248)
11  The Lover’s Ghost (English)
12  The Grey Cock (American)
13  I’m a Rover (Scots)
14  Here’s a Health To all Good Lovers (Scots)
15  Lover in the Night (English)

LoHa_4[1]VOLUME 4 (Argo DA 69, ZDA 69)

Bonnie Barbara Allen (Child 84)
1    Bawbee Allab (Scots)
2    Barbry Ellen (English)
3    Barby Allan (American)

Sir Lionel (Child 18)
4    Sir Eglamore (English)
5    WIld Boar (American)
6    Old Bangum (American)
7    Ole Bangum (American)

The Lass Of Roch Royal  (Child 76)
8    Lord Gregory (Scots)
9    Lass of Roch Royal
10  Georgie Jeems (American)
11  Who Will Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet? (American)

The Knight and the Shepherd’s Daughter  (Child 110)
12  The Kight and the Shepherd’s Daughter (English)
13  The Knight and the Shepherd’s Daugher (American)

LoHa_5[1]VOLUME 5 (Argo DA 70, ZDA 70)

The Crafty Farmer (Child 283)
1    The Crafty Farmer (Scots)
2    Well Sold the Cow (Canadian)
3    The Highwayman (English)
4    The Highwayman Outwitted (English)
5    The Fair Damsel From London (American)

The Wife of Usher’s Well (Child 79)
6    The Wife of Usher’s Well (Scots)
7    The Three Babes (American)

Lord Lovel (Child 75)
8    Lord Lovell (Scots)
9    Lord Lovel (American)
10  Abe Lincoln Stood at the White House Gate (American)
11. The New Ballad of Lord Lovel (American)

Sir Hugh (The Jew’s Daughter) (Child 155)
12  Sir Hugh (or The Jew’s Daughter)
13  The Fatal Flower Garden (American)
14  Little Saloo (American)
15  It Rained a Mist (American)

Babylon (Child 14)
16  The Burly Burly Banks of Barbree-O (American)
17  The Bonnie Banks of Airdrie-O (Scots)


LoHa_6[1]VOLUME 6 (Argo DA 71, ZDA 71)

Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight (Child 4)
1    May Colvin (Scots)
2    Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight (American)
3    The Outlandish Knight (English)
4    Billy Came Over the Main White Ocean (American)
5    The Willow Tree (American)
6    The Wife of KELSO (Scots)
7    Rich Old Lady (Ameriacn)
8    Johnny Sands (English)

The Douglas Tragedy (Earl Brand) (Child 7)
9    The Brave Earl Brand and the King of England’s Daughter
10  The Douglas Tragedy (Scots)
11  Earl Brand (American)
12  The Lady and the Dragoon (American)

The Maid Freed From the Gallows (Child 95)
13  Prickle Holly Bush (English)
14  Hangman (American)


LoHa_7[1]VOLUME 7 (Argo DA 72, ZDA 72)

Clerk Colville (Child 42) and Lady Alice (Child 85)
1    George Collins (English) 
2    Young Collins (American)
3    Clerk Colven (Scots)
4    Giles Collins (American)
5    The Dying Hobo (American)

Willie O’Winsbury (Child 100)
6    Lord Thomas of Winsberrie (Scots)
7    John Barbour (Canadian)

The Three Ravens (Child 26)
8    The Three Ravens (English)
9    The Three Ravens (English)
10  The Twa Corbies (Scots)
11  The Crow Song (American)
12  The Three Crows (American)
13  The Three Ravens (American)
14  Poor Old Crow (American)
15  Blow the Man Down (Canadian)

Sir Patrick Spens (Child 58)
16  Sir Patrick Spens (Scots)
17  SIr Patrick Spens (American)

LoHa_8[1]VOLUME 8 (Argo DA 73, ZDA 73)

Young Beichan (Child 53)
1    Young Beichan (Scots)
2    Lord Bateman (American)
3    Turkish Rover (Canadian)

The Cherry Tree Carol (Child 54)
4    The Cherry Tree Carol (English)
5    Sweet Mary and Sweet Joseph (American)
6    Joseph and Mary (American)

Lizie Wan (Child 51) and Edward (Child 13)
7    Lucy Wan (English)
8    Fair Lucy (American)
9    What Brought the Blood Upon Your Right Shoulder, Dear? (Irish)
10  Edward (American)

The Frog’s Courtship
11  The Puddy in the Well (Scots)
12  Froggie Went A-Courting (American)
13  King Kong Kitcnie (American)
14  There Was An Old Frog

LoHa_9[1]VOLUME 9 (Argo DA 74, ZDA 74)

The Fause Knight Upon The Road (Child 3)
1    The Faise Knight and the Wee Boy (Scots)
2    The False Knight Upon the Road (Scots)
3    The False Fidee (American)
4    Faise Knight Upon the Road (Canadian)

The Braes of Yarrow (Child 214) and Rare Willie Drowned in Yarrow or The Waters of Gamrie (Child 215)
5    The Dowie Dens of Yarrow (Scots)
6    The Dewy Dewy Dens of Yarrow (American)
7    Yarrow (American)
8    Willie’s Fair and Willie’s Rare
9    The Braes of Yarrow (American)

The Wife Wrapt in Wether’s Skin (Child 227)
10  The Wife in the Wether’s Skin (Scots)
11  The Daughter of Peggy (English)
12  Gentle Fair Jenny (American)
13  Rissilty Rossilty (American)

The Death of Queen Jane (Child 170)
14  Queen Jane (American)
15  The Death of Queen Jane (English)
16  Jane Was a Neighbor (American)
17  Queen Jean (Scots)
18  Poor Sally (American)
19  Six Lords Went A-Hunting (English)

LoHa_10[1]VOLUME 10 (Argo DA 75, ZDA 75)

The Trooper and The Maid (Child 299)
1    The Trooper and the Maid (Scots)
2    A Soldier Travelling from the North (American)
3    Trooper and the Maid (American)

4    Betsy (English)
5    The Brewer’s Daughter (American)

The Keach and The Creel (Child 281)
6    The Keach and the Creel (Scots)
7    The Little Scotch Girl

Lord Thomas and Fair Annet (Child 73) and Fair Margaret and Sweet William (Child 74)
8    Lord Thomas and Fair Annie (Scots)
9    Little Margaret (American)
10  Sweet William and Fair Annie (Scots)
11  Lady Margaret (American)

The Lowlands of Holland (Child 92 Appendix)
12  Lowlands of Holland (English)
13  The Lowlands of Holland (Scots)
14  The Lowlands of Holland (American)


VOLUME 11 – Ballads Resident and Migrant (Argo ZDA 76, never released)

Reported to include variants of the following ballads, but the information may be incomplete or inaccurate:

Henry Lee
Fair Annie
Half Hitch
Matty Grove


VOLUME 12 – Second Crop (ZDA 77, never released)

Reported to include variants of the following ballads, but the information may be incomplete or inaccurate:

The Ballad of Springhill
Omi Wise
Tyburn Hill
Hiram Hubbard
Floyd Collins
Lolly Tudum
Wicked Polly
John J. Curtis



The project
It’s a long way down from the top of the page, but here are some notes and further info about this mammoth project undertaken by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, with the personal involvement of Argo’s founder and director Harley Usill.

One wonders how Edward Lewis, the chairman of Decca records (by that time celebrating the 10th anniversary of their ownership of Argo) reacted when the plan to produce this uncompromising and scholarly 10-volume set of traditional ballads was put to him.

topicchildballads1Argo/Decca may have been influenced to take the plunge knowing that MacColl’s old label Topic was about to release for the first time in the UK the Folk Songs of Britain anthology, edited by Peter Kennedy and Alan Lomax. That 10-record set, issued in the States by Caedmon from 1961, included two volumes dedicated to the Child Ballads.

Who knows? But the project, the first attempt by a British record company to issue a fullish set of the Child Ballads, was given the go-ahead despite the fact that everyone at Decca must have known that the eight and a half hours of ballads would generate a 10th of the income of one two and a half minute single issued by the company in the same year by Cat Stevens or Engelbert Humperdinck.

Before and after
It wasn’t MacColl’s first go at documenting the English and Scots Ballads on record. In 1956, a collection of nine LPs of ballads (eight of them Child Ballads) sung by MacColl and A.L. Lloyd was issued by the Riverside label in the States. And a three-LP set of The English and Scottish Popular (Child) Ballads sung by MacColl was issued by the US label Folkways between 1961 and 1964.

BloodandrosesAnd the project didn’t end with these ten Long Harvest volumes. Once they’d left Argo, MacColl and Seeger pursued the enterprise, issuing a further five-volume set of ballads from England, Scotland and the USA on their own Blackthorne label under the collective title of Blood and Roses.

What was the aim?
According to the sleeve notes of The Long Harvest written by MacColl and Seeger, the intention was to satisfy the needs of the “rapidly expanding ballad audience”: folk club audiences were requesting them, local education authorities were putting on ballad study courses for teachers, and schools and universities were beginning to see traditional ballads as useful classroom aids and a subject “fit for serious study”.

“One of the most encouraging features of the current British folksong revival,” the sleeve notes say, “is the way in which the repertoire of traditional ballads is being opened up and explored by a steadily increasing number of young singers.”

“Audiences, too, begin to manifest a remarkable familiarity with traditional ballads and it is not unusual for those who sing in folk clubs to find themselves, after a performance, cornered by a section of the audience and made to defend their particular version of a ballad against other versions recently heard.”

Cornered? Defend? What times!

childballadsChild and Bronson
The texts and music of the ballads presented on these LPs (and on the subsequent Blood and Roses LPs) are drawn almost exclusively from the work of two American scholars: Francis Child’s ‘The English and Scottish Popular Ballads’, a collection of 305 ballads collated from printed sources and published in the late 19th century, and Bertrand Bronson’s ‘The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads’, which did for the tunes what Child did for the lyrics, and was published in 1959.

bronson4On the sleeve notes MacColl and Seeger acknowledge their debt to Bronson’s “magnificent work of scholarship”. “It has not only simplified the task of producing these recordings — it has helped to inform a new generation of English, Scots and American ballad singers as to the precise nature of an important part of their musical heritage.”

Each volume of the Long Harvest came with full texts of the ballads, a glossary where necessary, the story behind the songs and their many variants, the sources from which the two singers found them (or first heard them) and a bibliography.

There are 45-second samples of every single track available on Peggy Seeger’s website, and all the accompanying texts are available here.

“You’ve got to like these voices”
“The value of these records lies almost wholly in their scholarship,” said one reviewer in the Gramophone of the Long Harvest when it came out in 1967.

“Like many sets of type music it is unlikely that anybody other than a reviewer would subject himself to hours of singing by two people of the repetitive phrases of interminable ballad songs with their recurring refrains,” he went on. “This is modal music, and so far as performance is concerned you have got to like these voices as voices.”

He didn’t particularly, but Sydney (Lord of the Dance) Carter did when he took over the reviewer’s role for the magazine for volumes 5 to 10.

“All beautifully sung; and even if they weren’t, this would still be a major work of reference,” he says of Vols 5 and 6. “Top quality, like all the ones which came before,” of Vols 7 and 8. “I can’t keep on saying how good this series is, so I’ll just report the latest titles,” he says of 9 and 10.

Child ballad recordings
There are thousands of them, and I reckon that most of them are on Roel van Dijk’s excellent site, the Child Ballad Database.

In their introductory notes in 1979 to Blood and Roses, MacColl and Seeger described the performance of ballads as a formidable challenge – one that’s been taken up occasionally (they say) with less than encouraging results.

Sir Patrick Spens with “spangles and a rock accompaniment” was not to their taste, nor a Medaeval version of Barbara Allen with the “thrumming of shawns and crumhorns”.

“The ballads don’t lend themselves to this kind of treatment,” they say. “They don’t make good ‘production numbers’. The poetry gets in the way: too much action, too many incidents, and the quality of the language leads to a kind of rock parody.”

“Attempts to create settings, arrangements for the poetry only succeed in making it seem overdressed – like putting a silk garter on the Venus de Milo.”

With and without silk garters
dransfields2In the firm belief that one should never let an opportunity to mention The Dransfields and The Everlys in the same breath slip by, I thought I’d start a list of some of my favourite Long Harvest Venus de Milos, with and without silk garters (as it happens, I’m quite partial to silk garters):

Vol 1
Martin Carthy – Lord Randall (off Shearwater)

Vol 2
Robin & Barry Dransfield – Scarborough Fair
The Handsome Family – The House Carpenter

Bob Dylan – The House Carpenter
Vol 3
The Dubliners – Seven Drunken Nights

Vol 4
The Everly Brothers – Barbary Allen

Vol 5
Dave Burland – Lord Lovel
WatersonsPeter Bellamy – Lord Lovell

Vol 6
The Watersons (pictured right) – The Prickle Holly Bush
Bandoggs – The Lady and the Dragoon

Vol 7
Fairport Convention – Sir Patrick Spens (with plenty of spangles)
Anne Briggs – Willie O’Winsbury

Vol 8
Martin Carthy – Lucy Wan
Nic Jones – Lord Bateman
Shirley & Dolly Collins – The Cherry Tree Carol

bob davenport in black jumperVol 9
Steeleye Span – False Knight On The Road
Bob Davenport – The Dowie Dens of Yarrow

Vol 10
Hedgehog Pie – Lowlands of Holland

…and, even though the ballads don’t feature on The Long Harvest…

New Lost City Ramblers – The Soldier and the Lady
Martin Carthy – Famous Flower of Serving-Men (it’s nine and a half minutes long, and like a great novel, I never want it to end)

…More as and when

~ by folkcatalogue on May 22, 2009.

3 Responses to “(1967) Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger – The Long Harvest, Vols 1-4”

  1. Hi
    I have a definitive tacklisting for vol.12 of the Long Harvest..
    Drop me an email and I’ll send it to you. Regards. Neill
    Great site by the way and I too am quite fond of the silk garters.
    Frankly, the song can wear hotpants and wellies if it wants.

  2. Definitive track list for Long Harvest Vol.12 Second Crop (ZDA 77, never released):

    Side 1

    1. Ballad Of Springhill
    2. The Overgate
    3. Omie Wise
    4. Alan MacLean
    5. Tyburn Hill
    6. Van Dieman’s Land
    7. Hiram Hubbard

    Side 2

    1. Thacker’s Horses
    2. Floyd Collins
    3. Sheffield Apprentice
    4. Lolly Tudum
    5. Wicked Polly
    6. The Ballad Of Jock Thompson
    7. John J Curtis
    8. Johnny Andrews

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