Band members Related acts
McTell (aka Ralph May) - vocals, guitar
- none known
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Title: You Well-Meaning Brought Me Here
Grade (cover/record): VG/VG
Comments: minor ring and edge wear; small cut out notch along bottom edge; gatefold sleeve; US pressing
GEMM catalog ID: 4695
For me, 1971's "You Well-Meaning Brought Me Here" stands as Ralph McTell's most consistent and enjoyable album. Produced by Gus Dudgeon and backed by most of the band HUB, including guitarists Davy Johnston and Caleb Quaye, and drummer Roger Pope (they would shortly become Elton John's backing band), it's a folk album, but benefits from a more mainstream sound and even some occasional rock touches (check out Quaye's blazing electric guitar solo on the heartbreaking 'Old Brown Dog'). McTell's voice has seldom sounded as good and virtually every one of the songs is catchy enough to warrant repeated spins. Highlights include 'First and Last Man' and the London Symphony Orchestra backed 'Pick Up a Gun'. Interestingly, I've seen a couple of reviews that call it a concept piece. While there are plenty of autobiographical pieces (see McTell's own comments below), that's probably a real stretch. For you trivia buffs, this is a US pressing that supposedly replaced 'Streets of London' with 'Chalkdust'. For some reason this copy doesn't.
"You Well-Meaning Brought Me Here" track listing:
1.) Genesis 1 Verse 20 (Ralph McTell) - 4:27
2.) First and Last Man (Ralph McTell) - 3:39
3.) In Some Way I Loved You (Ralph McTell) - 2:54
4.) Lay Your Money Down (Ralph McTell) - 2:47
5.) Old Brown Dog (Ralph McTell) - 4:20
6.) Pick Up a Gun (Ralph McTell) - 4:21
2.) Streets of London (Ralph McTell) - 3:21
3.) The Ballad of Dancing Doreen (Ralph McTell) - 3:10
4.) Claudia (Ralph McTell) - 3:40
5.) The Ferryman (Ralph McTell) - 7:04
McTell has a really nice website at:
I'll probably get slapped with a restraining order, but I've cribbed his comments on the album. I've gone ahead and corrected a couple of typos and reorganized the comments to fit the album song chronology.
"Between this album and the last, my life had changed rapidly in terms of how I was perceived or how I thought I was perceived. I was now managed by the legendary Jo Lustig, a hard but totally loyal New Yorker who was managing Pentangle and had worked for Nat King Cole and (inadvertently) for the mafia. Jo had big plans for me but we did not always see eye to eye. I filled a vacant night for him at the Royal festival hall and we all were surprised by how many people came. Jo made his pitch for me on the same night and after consulting at length with my brother Bruce I signed up with him.
My young family and I were still living in a council flat in the back end of Croydon and I was meeting acclaimed musicians and big record company people. My friend’s lives had not changed much and I was adrift on a sea of self-doubt and questioning that gave rise to many of the songs on the new album. especially the title track. (Dear old Jo thought I had written it for him and thanked me with tears running down his face, I had to gently explain that I had not.)
Genesis 1 v20 was recorded with just two guitars and Mike Hugg brought in his Moog Synthesiser on which I played the solo.
However the number that seemed to be the most popular on this record was First and Last Man. Gus and his wife Shelia were the backing singers and Gus got me to play my old harmonium as well. We used that instrument on Lay your Money Down as well. I played all the instruments on that little piece and had a lot of fun doing it.
I had been rehearsing for months with a bass player called Steve Bonnett and we recorded Chalkdust together with me overdubbing piano later. This was the song that was substituted for Streets of London on the releases elsewhere in the world. Paramount released an album with just that song on it and wrote on the cover something about being so excited about my new album they could not wait for the rest of the songs to be recorded. I think it may have turned as many people off as it turned on to the album.
Visconti was called in to arrange the
Ballad of Dancing Doreen
conducted and I sat speechless in the control room overwhelmed by the
majesty of the sound. The orchestra could not hear the part I was playing as
they were following the conductor’s baton. After each take they all tried
to get into the control room to listen.
clock was ticking as it came to the last song: The
Ferryman. It is a long number and it necessitated bringing a speaker out
into the room with just my guitar and voice on it for the orchestra to pay
to. The first take broke down as the clock moved to one o’clock. This
meant the entire orchestra would be on overtime, which would have pushed the
budget well over the limit. However they volunteered to do it at no extra
charge and got it in one take. I always remember the clock at 1.20pm when
they all trooped in to listen to the take. I thought it the most exciting
thing I had ever recorded. Everything went down live – including the
Teddy-boy harpist and the choir.
A few months after the release of the record the label was bought out by the Gulf and Western Conglomerate and the artist Melanie (who had also recently signed to the company) and I were lost in a sea of bureaucracy. But by this time I was on tour in the states and more confused than ever about where I was going."
Back to Bad Cat homepage/search