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Ewan MacColl cutting to the core of industrial Britain

Ewan MacColl

Dirty Old Town

Released: February 3rd, 1949

Tracks Ewan MacColl

The events we write about at Gaslight Records happened in some form or another 50 years ago to the day. Roll along with us and imagine you are back in 1970.

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'We'll chop you down like an old dead tree…' sings MacColl. And indeed, both he and Peggy Seeger do just that with this haunting and much covered song.

Originally penned by MacColl, this eerie hymn to industrial England is both gritty and raw. But like its namesake, the song holds a beauty that defies explanation unless you're taking an in-depth look at the exceptional lyricism that lies beneath the surface.

Ewan MacColl cutting to the core of industrial Britain

The backing music provided by Alan Lomax and the Ramblers walks with a subtle beauty in the way it frames this almost a cappella ballad; that is until the poignant jazziness of a clarinet whispers through the speakers just before the final verse.

Other versions of this track

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