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Elton Hayes: He Sings to a Small Guitar - His 64 Finest 1951-1955



Accompanying himself on guitar, Elton Hayes was quite at ease singing English folk songs and ballads, modern ditties or the Edward Lear ‘Nonsense’ songs. His many live performances relied heavily on songs from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for he had a great love of old English music. Over the years, he collected together hundreds of songs and ballads to which he put his own guitar arrangements. From these he would chose the appropriate ones to use in a performance, all adapted to his individual style. Elton also composed many of his own songs. They called him the minstrelsy through the ages. His recording career was relatively short. Between the years 1950 and 1957 Elton recorded 42 songs and contributed to one album, the soundtrack of Disney’s Robin Hood. Many fine songs from his repertoire were sadly never put on record.

Elton Hayes: He Sings to a Small Guitar - His 64 Finest 1951-1955


If ever a singer deserved the epithet 'unique' it is surely Elton Hayes. Long before the folk boom of the late fifties and beyond he ploughed a lone furrow as virtually the only singer of folk songs to make an impression on the general public and this bumper collection is a welcome reminder of his talents. Songs like BLACK IS THE COLOUR OF MY TRUE LOVER'S HAIR and ALL AROUND MY HAT were later to become staples of the folk singer's repertoire but I doubt if anyone else could be heard singing them on the radio in the early fifties. I was interested to hear his version of THE SEAL (THE GREY SELCHIE) which uses the original melody rather than the later one used by folk singers of the '60s as SILKIE. Having said that his own repertoire was wildly eclectic as apart from traditional folk material there are Russian and Spanish songs, current pops (MISTER AND MISSISSIPPI), show songs (WANDERING STAR from 'Paint Your Wagon')) and of course the poems of Edward Lear set to music, most notably and enduringly THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT. These selections are a mixture of Parlophone recordings and BBC radio shows and provide a most enjoyable programme. InTune Magazine