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The Body Blow 1961

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In The Beginning
Ewan MacColl 1915 - 1989
Peggy Seeger 1935 -
Charles Parker 1919-1980
The Original Ballads
The Ballad of John Axon 1957
Song of a Road 1958
Singing the Fishing 1959
The Big Hewer 1960
The Body Blow 1961
On the Edge 1962
The Fight Game 1963
The Travelling People 1964
The New Radio Ballads
John Tams
The Song Of Steel
The Enemy That Lives Within
The Horn of the Hunter
Swings and Roundabouts
Thirty Years of Conflict
Ballad of the Big Ships

Dealing with five people paralysed by polio. The first of the radio-ballads to deal with a non-industrial subject. (TSCD 805)

This radio ballad was initially intended to deal with the psychology of pain, but finally refocused to the subject of polio -- a disease that brings with it a terrible amount of pain, along with its disabling effects (the late English singer Ian Dury was a polio survivor). While polio has receded from public awareness between the 1960s and the 21st century, it remains a lingering threat with consequences that this production makes very plain. It isn't always an issue of the consequences for society at large, either -- the most evident thing here is the personal pain and grief endured by the five polio victims interviewed by Charles Parker. The Body Blow is probably the starkest of the MacColl/Seeger/Parker radio ballads, and is likely the most compelling as a result. Where the others tend to flow in and out, this one uses a more direct method of cutting montages and a more limited palette, both in terms of the music and the number of interviewees. It's unlikely to be a candidate for regular repeated plays, however -- the emotional intensity is too great, even at this remove. It is a brilliant work, and a personal one for one of us here at  the Radio Ballads website and albionchronicles. A member of the family, a cousin, is a polio survivor, a brave and indomitable woman who has allowed nothing to stand in the way of attaining her dreams and life goals.

Tony Dixon: Mastering
 
Charles Parker: Engineer, Production Director
 
Brian Daly: Guitar
 
Alf Edwards: Ocarina
 
Tony Engle: Producer
 
Alfie Kahn: Flute, Harminica
 
Peggy Seeger: Banjo, Music Direction, Orchestration, Guitar, Singer.
 
Ewan MacColl: Singer, Lyricist, Script, Main Performer

The Body Blow 1961
TSCD 805

1. Introduction
 
2. What Day Did The World Stop Moving?
 
3. Do You Recall How You Climbed The Mountains?
 
4. Can't Breathe
 
5. I Often Think Back....
 
6. World Is A Bed....
 
7. I Wasn't Afraid While I Was In The Lung....
 
8. Well, First Of All...Appreciate The Situation
 
9. While There's Life, There's Hope
 
10. It's Goodbye Now....
 
11. How Can I Do All THe Small Things?
 
12. Stronger Than Pain Is The Human Will To Survive
 
13. Hidden Foe....(Closing Announcement)

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