Even if some of the performances, on this brand new album ’Never Forget’, do feature a dazzling array of instrumentation (including organ, piano and brass on ’The Biscuits Of Bull Lane’), the core sound of THE YOUNG ’UNS remains the trio’s gritty, folk harmony singing ‐ frequently, as on ’Jack Ironside’, sung a capella. It’s not surprising. Though only in their early Twenties, the young Teeside threesome first fell under the spell of folk music as ”really impressionable 17 year olds” and it changed their musical lives forever. During what has proved a nine‐year apprenticeship, the group ‐‐ comprising Sean Cooney, David Eagle and Michael Hughes – have developed a distinctive style, run a folk club of their own for four years, added some instrumentation to their sparse vocal style (mostly David on accordion and Michael on guitar) and begun writing original songs to add to the traditional repertoire. If their work has a strong, focused political dimension, as evinced by the album opener and ‘A Lovely Cup Of Tea’, it also celebrates the personal in such tender love songs as ‘The Long Way Home’. Production is by Andy Bell.
The Biscuits of Bull Lane is a Cooney original song. It tells of an event on Sunday 26th May 2013, four days after the British soldier Lee Rigby was murdered by Islamic extremists in Woolwich, the far right English Defence League decided to hold a protest outside a tiny mosque in York. The 6 people who turned up were met with warmth, love and tea and biscuits and went away with changed views. Cable Street (1936) and Lewisham (1977) are two of the most famous encounters in the long struggle with fascism in Britain. Jamie Foyers is a mythical figure from the song by Ewan McColl who represents all young idealistic British men who went to fight for the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil war in the 1930s.
Jack Ironside was penned by the late Graeme Miles who wrote hundreds of songs in an incredible 20 year period, putting the band’s native Teesside on the song map. Jack Ironside is an epic account of the birth of Ironopolis (Middlesbrough) which exploded into life following the discovery of ironstone in the Cleveland Hills in 1850. The trio have added the final verse themselves to bring the story up to date.
The Long Way Home, a tender Northern love song by Cooney. Vocal and piano.
Blood Red Roses/Shallow Brown. Two traditional sea shanties from the great days of sail. The first evokes one of the group’s influences – the 1960s trio The Young Tradition.
Rosario. Written by Joy Rennie of Billingham and arranged by David Eagle and Michael Hughes, this is a beautiful interpretation of a wonderful poem by Cicely Fox Smith. Rosario (the “Rosary of Holy Faith”) is a port in Argentina on the Parana River.
Hands Feet is written by Jez Lowe, who wrote it as part of the Folk Against Fascism movement which came in response to the leader of the British National Party’s plea to members to immerse themselves in the folk scene. The children singing are the wonderful choir from St John Fisher and St Thomas More Primary School, Wythenshawe, Manchester led by Debbie Horley.
Altar is a Cooney original inspired by the imagery and legends of the early Christian church. St Columba lived at a time when angels were depicted as riding white horses and when he neared his death on the island of Iona his horse, reputedly, began to cry.
Three Sailors is another Cooney composition that draws lyric inspiration from real life. ”In West View cemetery in Hartlepool” he says ”there is a military gravestone which simply reads ’Three Sailors of the 1939‐45 War / SS Westburn / Known to God’ and these simple three lines become the first line of the song ’We are three lost sailors of the war’.
The Running Fox is another from the pen of Graeme Miles, a song about an epic fox chase across the North Yorkshire Moors.
Sandwell Gate. A Cooney song. The Sandwell Gate is a beautiful archway in Hartlepool’s medieval town wall that leads to the Fish Sands. For hundreds of years Hartlepool fishermen passed through it on their way to sea. When it was built the sea was known as the Frisian sea and would have seen many large oak ships called cogs. In Victorian times it was the German Sea and thousands of collier brigs carrying coal would have been seen.
John Ball. Written by Sydney Carter, John Ball was the brave idealistic rebel priest who led the Peasants Revolt in 1381 and dared to suggest, 600 years ago, that all men were equal.
John Hill. ”John Hill married my Great Grandmother Mary Jane in Sunderland in 1913” says Sean Cooney. ”He died a year later with thousands of others in the opening months of the Great War and is buried in the little French town of Bailleul. Mary Jane eventually remarried and gave birth to another 11 children one of whom is my Nana”.
Lovely Cup of Tea. David Eagle rounds off the album in a way only he can by taking the song cycle back to Bull Lane Mosque through the eyes of a member of the English Defence League
What the media says:
“…an unlikely force of nature on stage, beguiling audiences with irrepressible humour, bold vocals, gripping storylines and innate musicality.” Colin Irwin, Spiral Earth
“Today’s social landscape needs their attention”
“Great songs, beautifully sung and played”