A radio-ballad about the railwaymen of England by Ewan MacColl, Charles Parker & Peggy Seeger

The first of the radio-ballads was inspired by a steam locomotive driver who died performing an act of heroism. It was based, like its successors, on many hours of tape-recorded testimonies and reminiscences, mixed into a continuous narrative interspersed with MacColl’s songs and Seeger’s music.

“A generation from now, listeners will surely still be moved by this recording” New Statesman

“The Ballad of John Axton was ostensibly about the life and death of a train driver but, like ensuing ballads about the building of the M1, herring fishing and coal miners, it was really about the complex relationship between men and their professions.” Time Out

“No wonder it knocked England out that July evening.” The Observer

1  John Axon was a railway man… 3.22
2  It was 4.00 a.m. that Saturday… 1.56
3  The iron road is a hard road… 9.52
4  It doesn’t matter where you come from… 5.56
5  The rain was gently falling… 2.15
6  Come all you British loco men… 3.38
7  The repair was done… 3.15
8  I may be a wage slave on Monday… 4.27
9  Come all you young maidens… 2.40
10  Steam train, steam train… 3.53
11  Under the large injector steam-valve… 3.18
12  The engine had reached the distant signal… 11.36
13  On the 3rd of May 1957… 2.04

Script: Ewan MacColl and Charles Parker
Song lyrics and music: Ewan MacColl
Orchestration and musical direction: Peggy Seeger
Actuality recording: Ewan MacColl and Charles Parker
Production: Charles Parker
Technical direction: John Bower

Singers Isla Cameron, Fitzroy Coleman, Colin Dunn, Stan Kelly, Dick Loveless,
A.L.Lloyd, Ewan MacColl, Charles Mayo

Instrumentalists Jim Bray double bass – Terry Brown trumpet – Bob Clark fiddle – John Cole harmonica – Fitzroy Coleman guitar – Brian Daly guitar – Alf Edwards English concertina – Billy Loch drums – Bob Mickleburgh trombone – Peggy Seeger guitar, mandolin, 5-string banjo – Bruce Turner clarinet

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