“Rawtenstall Annual Fair” was my contribution to Topic Record’s 1968 compilation “Deep Lancashire”. I’ve always had pretty ambivalent feelings about this one. Recorded in the summer of 1967. I had already gone off to the University of Sussex by this time, but the project was on the go even before I left Lancashire.
Harry Boardman had made the arrangements and carried out all the negotiations with Topic Records. The plan was to make an album of predominantly Lancashire Industrial Ballads. Harry was overjoyed. Topic had pointed out to him that such an album had very limited commercial prospects. However they were prepared to offer the contributing musicians an outright payment of £50. Not £50 per artist or track, but £50 for the whole album, or LP as they were called then. This would of course be lin lieu of any royalties and would act as a one time only payment. At £3.50 per track, or 3 pounds 10 shillings as it was then we all agreed that this was a very generous offer!
Funny thing is it turned out that when the album came out pretty well everyone in Lancashire bought a copy. Fast forward thirty years to 1997 and the album is re released on CD. Same thing happens, presumably the vinyl copies everyone bought first time round were worn out by then?
To add insult to injury Rawtenstall Annual fair was also included in Topic’s “Three Score and Ten” anthology released in 2011.
Obviously most sales now are via iTunes and such, and if I go into the iTunes store then it’s clear that RAF is indeed one of the more popular items on the Deep Lancashire album.
A nice touch from Topic Records was that they managed to spell my name wrong on the original 1968 release. In spite of having this pointed out to them they managed to then not correct this for the 1997 CD re-release and to make it a hat trick they spelt it wrong on “The Three Score and Ten” anthology.
These things happen and I could counter balance it with tales of later in my career when significant advances of money were made against recordings that subsequently sold zilch.
The crazy thing is that I wasn’t born in Lancashire, but Yorkshire, and probably shouldn’t have been on the recording in the first place. I sometimes wonder if there isn’t some karma in there.