• ashley hutchings main image

    Ashley Hutchings

    official website

    Ashley Hutchings music samplePress Play

"Ashley Hutchings is the single most important figure in English folk rock. Before that his group Fairport Convention recorded some of the best versions of my unreleased songs. Listen to the bass playing on Percy's Song to hear how great he is."


~ Bob Dylan.

(27.8.2015)

 

Latest Album Released!

"By Gloucester Docks I Sat Down and Wept: A Love Story"


Back in 1969, when Ashley Hutchings - a young British rock’n’roller with a literary bent – was poring over ballads in Cecil Sharp House and working out how the hell one could apply electric bass and a rock sensibility to the likes of “Tam Lin” and “Matty Groves,” fellow London lad Pete Townshend was doing his own bit to reconfigure popular music as The Who toured in support of their magnum opus, a self-styled “rock opera” by the name of Tommy.Ashley Hutchings LatestAlbum While there may not be a lot of mileage in comparing Liege and Lief to its more bombastic contemporary, both records explore new possibilities for rock music. Equally significant, they are both records that focus on story. Over the following half-century, Hutchings’ status as “the most important figure in English folk rock” (Bob Dylan) has cemented itself through his work with Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and various Albion Bands, and rightly garnered awards as diverse as an EFDSS Gold Badge and an MBE.
Impressive though this is, it is still only part of the story, and if Pete Townshend can claim to have invented the rock opera, I would like to posit another genre right out on the edges of folk rock – the “rock novella” – of which Ashley Hutchings is the originator and 1987’s By Gloucester Docks I Sat Down and Wept: A Love Story is the most perfect example.
By Gloucester Docks is an album that wears both its heart and its influences on its sleeve. The title echoes Elizabeth Smart’s novel from the year Hutchings was born, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, an intense and controversial story of an affair written in a style verging on prose poetry, which imbues the personal with an allusive, universal, and metaphysical quality. Likewise, although Hutchings acknowledges the genesis of By Gloucester Docks in a personal relationship, the album reaches beyond specifics through its bricolage of literary and musical styles, and through the decision not to name the central protagonists, lending them the status of both everyman/woman and archetype.
On opener “I Dreamed a Dream,” Christine Collister sets the scene with a song that draws on numerous traditional sources to create a context of timeless love and loss accompanied by an organ which underpins the lyric’s devotional qualities. It is a motif which is picked up again at the album’s conclusion, neatly closing the narrative.
In between, the album tells the story of an ultimately doomed love affair, told from the alternating perspectives of the man and woman. Each is given two voices: their songs are sung by Hutchings and Polly Bolton respectively, while each also has a narrative voice outside the moment, spoken by actors Michael Pennington and Marilyn Cutts. Lyrics are by Hutchings, though Smart is quoted in “Love, Stuff and Nonsense,” and elsewhere Shakespeare, a number of traditional songs, and Brief Encounter – Noel Coward’s study of English romantic tragedy par excellence – are acknowledged.
While this is an album best enjoyed in an uninterrupted sitting, there are some fine standalone tracks throughout. The good-time rock-and-roll of “Ring on her Finger” is balanced by the melancholy torch song “Brief Encounters”; the swaying, Celtic-inflected “Dancing Under the Rose – again” is offset by the serious electric guitar-wanging rock-out of “Don’t Look Back.” The genre- defying music is matched by versatility of the musicians – Pete Zorn, Graeme Taylor, Phil Beer, Dave Mattacks, John Shepherd, Dave Whetstone, Steve Ashley and Mick Doonan – who complement the narrative perfectly throughout.
Back in 1987, By Gloucester Docks received a fairly limited release, but its reputation has grown since. This newly remastered edition offers an opportunity to rediscover – or discover for the first time – this masterful work of poetic storytelling in words and music: a “rock novella” until a better definition comes along.

~ Available from Talking Elephant Records ~

Ashley Hutchings Special Offer


More Recent Albums

Ashley Hutchings Dylancentric Album

"Dylancentric - Official bootleg"


In 1969 Bob Dylan topped the bill in a massive music festival on the Isle of Wight. In August, 2019, the Isle of Wight witnessed a 50th anniversary festival. The last act onstage was a band specially formed by Ashley to celebrate Bob's music.
These live recordings are from this band's set that night.

Album now available from Talking Elephant Records.




"Gone Missing"


Talking Elephant Records have released a companion album to By Gloucester Docks I sat down and wept and Paradise and Thorns. It is made up of influences, out-takes and rarities and is a mid-price release.



Ashley Hutchings New Album

Ashley Hutchings New Album

"Paradise and Thorns"  Ashley Hutchings Paradise and Thorns Album


Ashley's new epic double-album Paradise and Thorns has been released by Talking Elephant Records. The sub- heading to the album is Gloucester Docks Revisited (disc one) and Other Tales of Love (disc two).
Ashley thinks this is possibly his finest album and this view is supported by what the media and people in the know are saying about Paradise and Thorns, and it's companion album released in 1987, By Gloucester Docks I sat down and wept.




This is what the media is saying about Paradise & Thorns
(and By Gloucester Docks I sat down and wept)

Album Reviews

  • "An absolute masterpiece"

    "two precious albums"

    "Formidable"

    "Ashley Hutchings is not only a musician. He's also deeply immersed in English literature, history and the arts. Poetry, theatre, dance and film all form part of his life and his artistic output, and this album reflects these aspects of his being."

    "Some years ago Ashley stated that, if he were to be remembered for anything, he'd like it to be for Gloucester Docks. When the time comes, he will, of course, be remembered for much more. Perhaps he'd like to reconsider now. Perhaps it will be for Paradise and Thorns. "

    "Ashley has been pivotal in promoting English music, and here he has again produced a masterpiece with wonderful songs, performances and production. Essential, absolutely essential"

  • "In September, 1987, Ashley Hutchings released a truly remarkable and strikingly personal album - By Gloucester Docks I sat down and wept. It was the last thing you'd expect from the architect of British folk-rock. What came from the speakers was remarkable."

    "The original ‘By Gloucester Docks I sat down and wept’, released in 1987, ended on a painful note, but it finally now has a happy coda; after waiting by the Quay for 30 years, Hutchings’ ship has come in".

    "Hutchings delivers narratives that make the utilitarian seem important and special and in many ways it doesn't come much better than that".

    "Ashley Hutchings has always been an adventurous inventor whose albums never fail to surprise, challenge but most of all delight. Paradise and Thorns does all that and more creating a continuous audio tapestry with threads drawn from more sources than you could imagine - what's more its prime inspiration (and ours when we hear it) is his masterpiece By Gloucester Docks. This is far more than a double CD: this is art".




More Key Albums

  • Ashley Hutchings - Liege & Lief

    Liege & Lief - Fairport Convention, 1969, Island Records

    "There was a lot of very whimsical stuff happening in the late '60s. We never really felt part of that. When we made Liege & Lief it was like Bergman was coming in to direct it. It was the Seventh Seal, not Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was magical, but the magic was elemental" - Ashley Hutchings, The Guardian, August, 2007, in an interview with John Harris.

  • Ashley Hutchings - By Gloucester Docks

    By Gloucester Docks I sat down and wept - A love story - Ashley Hutchings, 1987, Paradise & Thorns

    "Like books, there are certain albums which should never be allowed to go out of print, and this is certainly one of them. It is almost impossible to classify this memorial, so clearly does it transcend every known genre. This is partly because it incorporates every known genre" - Ian Maun. "The album is the nearest popular music has come to T.S.Eliot's The Waste Land" - Nigel Schofield.

  • Ashley Hutchings - Twangin' n' a-Traddin'

    Twangin' 'n' a-Traddin' - Twangy rock meets foot-tapping folk -The Ashley Hutchings Big Beat Combo, 1994, HTD Records

    "It's finally clear just how ahead of its time the album was. And there's a track called Twang me down my old mohair space-suit. How can you resist ?" - Oz Hardwick.

  • Ashley Hutchings - My Land is Your Land

    My land is your land - A celebration of English and Italian cultures in music and words - Ashley Hutchings and Ernesto De Pascale, 2008, The Esoteric Record Co.

    "Some of these tracks were first released back in 2008...but this release is fuller and more beautifully presented. Hutchings notes it as a favourite album of his long career and it's easy to understand why". - Jeanette Leech (Shindig).

~ All available from Talking Elephant Records ~

Richard Thompson quote


Books

Ashley Hutchings Autobiography Book

"Ashley Hutchings - The Guv'nor & the Rise of Folk Rock" (SOLD OUT)

Featuring Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span & The Albion Country Band. The authorised biography by Brian Hinton and Geoff Wall.

Published by Helter Skelter.

Ashley Hutchings Biography part 2

"Ashley Hutchings - Always Chasing Rainbows" (1973 to 1992)

The authorised biography part two by Brian Hinton and Geoff Wall.

400 pages and 400 pictures - Available on ebook in disc form only.

Ashley Hutchings

"Words Words Words" (SOLD OUT)

Ashley Hutchings' selection from his song lyrics, poems and album sleevenotes.

~ All available from Talking Elephant Records ~

Welsh girls

Song Lyrics

  • Welsh girls come over the border leaving their secrets all behind
    Welsh girls looking for partners, nothing but dancing on their minds
    Welsh girls come down from the hillside, nothing but music on their lips
    Welsh girls come up from the valleys, nothing to touch their fingertips


    (CHORUS)
    Welsh girls flashing fire, Saturday night, just got paid
    Welsh girls, daredevil dragons out on another border raid
    Welsh girls flashing fire, Saturday night, just got paid
    Welsh girls, daredevil dragons out on another border raid


  • Welsh girls come with their friends, rings on their fingers, small, discreet
    Welsh girls come with their brooms and they're aiming to sweep you off your feet
    Welsh girls come with their harps, pluck at your heartstrings like a rose
    Welsh girls come with their clogs, stompin' on English women's toes


    (CHORUS)





Awards

  • Premio Ciampi Lifetime Achievement

    Premio Ciampi Lifetime Achievement.

    Livorno, Italy, 2004.

  • BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards

    BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Good Tradition Award.

    London, 2006.

  • BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards

    BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Most influential folk album of all time.

    Voted for by the listeners of BBC Radio 2 - Liege & Lief by Fairport Convention. London, 2006.

  • Talkawhile Folk Awards

    Talkawhile Folk Awards, 2007 Hancock Award.

    "All round good egg folkie."

  • EFDSS Gold Badge Award

    EFDSS Gold Badge Award.

    London, 2013.

  • MBE award

    MBE award for services to music 2015.

    United Kingdom, 2015.

"one of my biggest heroes; a great man."

~ Sandy Denny