(1971) Marie Little – Factory Girl
Producer: Frederick Woods
Engineer: Ade Martins
Availability: deleted by Argo in late seventies; issued on CD by Smartweed label 2008
Marie Little – vocals, guitar
Robin Dransfield – guitar
Barry Dransfield – fiddle
Smiley (Tom Bowker) – dobro and banjo
Dave Moses – bass and recorder
Musical arrangement: Bill le Sage
The Twa Corbies (Trad)
The White Cockade (Trad)
Friendless Mary (Trad)
The Baron O’ Brackley (Trad)
The Story Of Cotton (Trad)
The Foggy Dew (Trad)
Morning Of My Life (B. A. Gibb)
A Song For All Seasons (Peter Ryder)
Galleries (Joni Mitchell)
Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues (Dylan)
Last Train And Ride (Ralph McTell)
Factory Girl (Ralph McTell)
A couple of contemporary reviews of the album, which is what you’d call a collector’s item these days (a copy was sold on eBay in June 2010 for $265):
Melody Maker (26/6/71):
‘One gains the impression that Marie’s voice is still progressing towards a maturity that could do full justice to the material she has chosen to sing… Although her performance seems very tense, it would nevertheless be over-zealous to dismiss the album. The content is sensibly divided into one side of traditional and one of contemporary songs’.
The Gramophone (September 1971)
“Marie Little, a 21-year-old singer from Salford, makes her debut on Argo with “Factory Girl”. On Side 1 she has as good an accompanying group as anyone could wish for, first time out: the Dransfields (fiddle and guitar) and “Smiley” (dobro and banjo).
“The Twa Corbies and The Foggy Dew are sung nicely enough, but it is “Smiley’s” dobro-playing on the latter that remains in my mind. Side 2 draws its material from quite another songbag – Joni Mitchell’s Galleries, Dylan’s Just Like Tom Thumb Blues, a couple of Ralph McTell compositions – and has orchestral accompaniments. These are fairly consistently either mundane or emptily decorative, and the ‘all-out arrangement’ of Tom Thumb Blues is grotesque.”
Dobro and banjo player Smiley (real name Tom Bowker) played in the Manchester bluegrass duo Tom and Smiley, releasing two albums on the Fidelity (1969) and Boulevard (1972) labels. He went on to play with Manchester country band Frank Yonko and the Texas Drifters and with PJ Proby.
Marie Little is still playing live. There’s a good 2008 interview with her on Colin Randall’s Salut Live website.
And her own website is here.
Bill Le Sage
Presumably the music arranger for the album is British jazz pianist Bill Le Sage, founder member of the Johnny Dankworth Seven in 1950, who went on to work with Tony Kinsey and Ronnie Ross and appeared on umpteen British jazz albums of the 50s and 60s.
About the time this album was being recorded, he would have been setting up The Bebop Preservation Society. There can’t have been two of them.
(More as and when)