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Murder Ballad Monday

by Half Deaf Clatch

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    It's Murder Ballad Monday!! And to celebrate here's some of my favourite songs of the idiom, performed in my own dubious 'style'. These are warts n' all recordings made with a ribbon mic on the vocal and stereo mics on the guitar, all pushed through tube pre-amps a little more than you really should!
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  • Homemade CD with A5 Art Card
    Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Home produced CDr, with a cover printed on recycled art card in a plastic wallet. Includes a full colour A5 Heavyweight Art Card, signed and numbered. Limited to 50 copies only.

    INTERNATIONAL ORDERS - The UK postal service aren't shipping parcels abroad at the moment, due to a massive Cyber Attack a couple of weeks ago. If you still want a CD, order one and I will post it out as soon as normal service resumes. Sorry for the inconvenience.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Murder Ballad Monday via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

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Pretty Polly 04:06
Delia's Gone 02:56
Stack O' Lee 02:38


This EP could quite easily be called 'Interpretations, Approximations and Improvisations', but that's not as catchy as 'Murder Ballad Monday. I've not tried to copy anyone's version verbatim, there's plenty of people who do that much better than me, and I'm not a 'legacy' artist. Instead I decided to play from my memory of what the songs were like, and imprint my own style on them. Pretty much how Folk and Blues song evolved a long time ago. Here's a breakdown of the songs for anyone interested...

Pretty Polly: Like a lot of old Murder Ballads and Appalachian Folk Music this song has it's origins in Great Britain, in fact the oldest known versions of the song were printed in 1750, and were known as 'The Gosport Tragedy' or 'The Cruel Ship's Carpenter'. These songs travelled to America with immigrants and evolved over the years into the songs we are familiar with today. My rendition is based on Dock Boggs' version, I just worked out a guitar part similar to his banjo, and took it from there. It's a fun song to play and sing, but it tests my limited vocal range a little!

Railroad Bill: Now this is a strange one, If you Google 'Murder Ballads' this song is always included, but most of the versions out there are mainly made up of unrelated floating verses, barely mentioning murder at all. Rambling Jack Elliott's rendition is one of the most famous, and it's from this that I took the chord progression. But lyrically it's a little sparse on actual murder. So I did a little research, and found out that this too is an old song, of which there are many, many versions. Will Bennett recorded it in 1929 and I stole a verse from his version, Frank Hutchinson also recorded it around the same time, but his verses are mainly murderless. Then there's Jerron 'Blind Boy' Paxton, he has recorded two versions both containing different verses, some of which are quite murderous. Apparently when asked about these verses in an interview Jerron said that his Grandma sang them to him when he was a boy, and she had learned them from someone when she was a little girl. Turns out the song is a lot more murdery than most recorded versions would have you believe. My version is an amalgamation of Rambling Jack Elliott, Will Bennett, Frank Hutchinson, Jerron Paxton and a verse or two I improvised whilst recording the song.

Delia's Gone: I must confess to have only been aware of the Johnny Cash version of this song, a situation I have now rectified. Apparently it's likely based on the real murder of Delia Green in 1900, and like all the other songs here it's been recorded many times by lots of different artists. I like the Johnny Cash version on his 'American Recordings' album, so that's the one I took my inspiration from.

Stack O Lee: How many different ways can you say and spell Stack O Lee? Almost everyone has recorded this at some point, and every time it's with a different take on the name. There's lots of differing musical accompaniment associated with this one, depending on whose version it is, but for me Mississippi John Hurt's is the definitive one. I can't play like John Hurt, the guy was a phenomenal guitarist, he made it sound effortless. I play an approximation of what he plays, and not quite as fast, because playing it any faster was tripping me up big time. I especially love this song because the poor guy is murdered just for stealing the protagonists best hat.

Thanks for reading, and remember...

Murder Ballads are for life, not just Mondays!


released January 9, 2023

All songs performed and recorded by A D McLatchie


all rights reserved



Speak Up Recordings UK

Independent label for the recording projects of Andrew McLatchie (aka Half Deaf Clatch). Slightly strange musicianer. Eleven Time British Blues Award Finalist 2013 - 2016
Six Time UK Blues Award Finalist 2018 - 2022

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