Ralph McTell (born Ralph May, 3 December 1944) is an English singer-songwriter and acoustic guitar player who has been an influential figure on the UK folk music scene since the 1960s.
McTell is best known for his song ‘Streets Of London’, which has been covered by over two hundred artists around the world, and for his tale of Irish emigration, ‘From Clare to Here’.
(Read more at Wikipedia.)
Links to Peel
Without ever being a fashionable figure with pop critics or a special favourite of John Peel, Ralph McTell still managed to clock up eight Peel sessions, which showed that the DJ had some respect for the singer. McTell's earliest LPs were for Transatlantic and, like Bert Jansch and John Renbourn who also recorded for that label, he was praised for his guitar style, which in his case drew heavily on ragtime and blues artists, like Blind Wille McTell from whom he took his stage name.
The record-buying public knew Ralph McTell best for his 1975 million-seller "Streets of London", his biggest (and only) UK singles chart success. The singer never recorded it for a Peel session, but the DJ praised some of McTell's other songs (like "Michael In The Garden") when the sessions were broadcast. JP also introduced a Radio 1 Concert (in 1971) and an edition of Sounds On Sunday (in 1974) featuring McTell. The singer's final session, from 1976, included two Woody Guthrie songs, "1913 Massacre" and "Vigilante Man", demonstrating that, despite his commercial success, Ralph McTell never deserted his folk roots - which may have been why Peel admired him. After that, McTell continued to appear on other radio and TV programmes, and in the 1990s he regularly presented folk music shows on Radio Two.
Festive Fifty Entries
Eight sessions. No known commercial release.
- The Clown / Michael In The Garden / Daddy Is Here / Eight Frames A Second
2. Recorded 1970-11-09. First broadcast 19 December 1970.
- Spiral Staircase / The Ferry Man / Too Tight Rag / Chalk Dust
- Genesis I. 20 / The Ferryman / Nettle Wine / Bird Man / In Some Way I Loved You (first TX 08 February 1972 repeat)
- When I Was A Cowboy / Small Voice Calling / A Woman With One Leg / Honey Baby Now
5. Recorded 1972-10-03. First broadcast 24 October 1972.
- When I Was A Cowboy /Zimmerman Blues / Barges / First Song
6. Recorded 1974-02-05. First broadcast 19 February 1974.
- When Maddy Dances / Secret Mystery / Let Me Down Easy
- Interest On The Loan / El Progresso / Would I Lie To You / Country Boys
8. Recorded 1976-12-02. First broadcast 06 December 1976.
- 1913 Massacre / Drybone Rag /Rizak-Laru / Naomi / Vigilante Man / From Clare To Here/ Summer Lightning
- 30 November 1971: recorded live on 1971-11-25 at BBC Paris Theatre.
- Full set details not available. ‘Truckin' Little Baby’ repeated 01 January 1972 on In Concert selection show.
Other Shows Played
- 26 January 1969: Spiral Staircase (album - Spiral Staircase) Transatlantic TRA 177 (John starts this off at the wrong speed)
- 30 May 1970: Kew Gardens (single) Big
- 26 February 1974: Maginot Waltz (LP - Easy) Reprise
- 27 February 1975: Lunar Lullaby (album - Streets) Warner
- ABC Of Beauty
- Cover Versions
- The Evolution of John Peel
- Bert Jansch
- Maldwyn Pope
- Sounds On Sunday