James Morrison – The Lark in the Morning/The Wandering Minstrel

morrison.jpgMore classic green Columbia fare from the late 1920s!

First, thanks to any and all who happened to catch the set I spun at KXLU last week. Nearly all the tracks I played were newly transferred and cleaned up – with only two exceptions. Over the next several months, I will post many of those tracks. The set contained 78s from Azerbaijan, Turkey, Armenia, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, South Africa, Congo, Sierra Leone, País Vasco, Ireland, France, Andalusia, and Argentina. This was the Irish track I played…

Irish fiddler James Morrison (1893-1947) was truly a master player. Born near the town of Collooney in County Sligo, Ireland, Morrison immigrated to the U.S. in 1915, first settling in Boston, and then in New York City. His first recordings were as early as 1921, and in the ensuing years he recorded for Vocalion, Okeh, and Gennett.

In March of 1926, he paired with pianist Claire Reardon, and recorded his first electrical recordings for Columbia, which is where this track stems from. Both “The Lark in the Morning” and “The Wandering Minstrel” are classic Irish jigs, and Morrison seems to play them effortlessly.

Columbia’s Irish output during the late 20s and early 30s is formidable. Incredible, in fact. So many wonderful musicians recorded for Columbia during that period – John McKenna, Frank Quinn, The Flanagan Brothers…on and on. Interestingly, I don’t believe this track has ever been compiled. However, there are excellent CD reissues with early Irish recordings that I can heartily recommend, namely Yazoo’s two CDs titled Wheels of the World, and Arhoolie’s Frank Quinn CD. For more on James Morrison, here’s a nice website with information on a Morrison festival in Ireland.

James Morrison – The Lark in the Morning/The Wandering Minstrel

Finally, rest in peace, Mike Stewart. I puchased many fine records from him, and his was the first print auction I ever subscribed to, when I was 23 years old.

Technical Notes
Label: Columbia
Issue Number: 33108-F
Matrix Number: 106431 (2-C-3)

8 thoughts on “James Morrison – The Lark in the Morning/The Wandering Minstrel

  1. Oh shit – I’ve been waiting for you to get around to stuff from near my (adopted) neck of the woods, and finally it’s arrived. I love it!

    Record hunting in the UK hasn’t turned up much for me EXCEPT some neat folk revival records from the 60’s/70’s. And all them records seem based on the model set by guys like Mr. James Morrison. I’m gonna check out those Yazoo and Arhoolie CDs you’ve recommended. Thanks!

  2. Actually, the “Lark” side was re-issued on a 2-cassette set of 30 James Morisson sides compiled by Harry Bradshaw, an Irish 78 specialist who worked as a producer for RTE and now works for the Irish Traditional Music Archives in Dublin. Unfortunately, this has not made it to CD and it is no longer available. You can find a couple of additional Morisson sides on the CDs I co-produced with Dick Spottswood, “From Galway to Dublin” (Rounder 1087) and “Milestone at the Garden” (Rounder 1123)–the later is devoted to Irish fiddle players from the 78 era, and contains some non-commercial sides. A few more Morisson sides can be found on CD here and there, particularly on two recent Irish releases called “OldTime Records” Vols. 1 and 2. More details on my website:

    http://celticgrooves.homestead.com/CG_Various_OldTime_Records.html

    http://celticgrooves.homestead.com/CG_Various_OldTime_Records_2.html

  3. Philippe – Thanks very much for the information. I had your Rounder CDs already listed on the Resources page, but I have just added the rest of the ones you have for sale. You do not list the original labels they appear on (some I see are from Topic), so I listed the label as simply being Celtic Grooves.
    – JW

  4. Check out The Pure Genius of James Morrison on vinyl released in ’78 by Shanachie, hard to get hold of but absoutely worth the effort, it is magnificent. I transfered the vinyl to cassette and then cassette to MP3 so I could burn a copy to CD for the car and it still sound good. And what an absolute joy of a recording. It is one of my favourite Irish albums of all time. Contact me for details!

    1. Another must-have for fans of Morrison’s playing has to be the 2-cassette set produced in 1989 by Harry Bradshaw on his own Viva Voce label. Thirty well-remastered sides and copious biographical notes, typical of Harry’s work. But I suspect you’d have even more trouble finding these than the Shanachie LP.

      Yet another item might be of interest to said fans: a facsimile publication of music manuscripts written by James Morrison for one of his fiddle students. More details here:
      http://celticgrooves.homestead.com/CG_Book_Morrison_Mss.html

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