Three Cane Whale choose their favourite location recordings

The wonderful Three Cane Whale recorded every track from their new album in a different location. Here they give us their nine favourite recordings where location is a fundamental to its creation.

1. Richard Skelton “Landings” (2010, Type Recordings)

Described as “a dialogue with the landscape itself”, this beautifully spare yet rich album was recorded over the course of four years in the moors and hillsides of the Pennines, using multi-tracked recordings of bowed string instruments (some of them having been buried in the earth prior to recording) and concertinas. The track “Green Withins Brook”, for instance, was recorded “by the banks of the fledgling stream as the ice melted one wintry morning”.

He really doesn’t sound like anyone else.

2. “Led Zeppelin III” & “IV” (Atlantic, 1970, 1971), “Houses of the Holy” and “Physical Graffiti” (Swansong 1973, 1975)

Extensive recording for these albums took place at converted poorhouse Headley Grange, Headley, East Hampshire.

“The reason we went there in the first place was to have a live-in situation where you’re writing and really living the music. We’d never really had that experience before as a group….It was all of us really concentrating in a concentrated environment and the essence of what happened there manifested itself across three albums” (Jimmy Page)

3. Neil Young “Soldier” (from “Journey Through The Past” 1972, Reprise)

A less well known piano and vocal song recorded in a Californian sawmill. The piano tickles it’s way through the roar of a sawdust burner at the start and fades back into it at the end. A hauntingly beautiful performance and soundscape.

4. Gavin Bryars, “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” (1971)

Strictly speaking, it’s only the “vocal” that possesses a sense of location. Bryars himself notes that “In 1971, when I lived in London, I was working with a friend, Alan Power, on a film about people living rough in the area around Elephant and Castle and Waterloo Station. In the course of being filmed, some people broke into drunken song – sometimes bits of opera, sometimes sentimental ballads – and one, who in fact did not drink, sang a religious song ‘Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet.’ ” The fleshpots of south London, it is. And I personally can picture the dislocatedness and vulnerability amid the grimy flagstones of our dirty capital.

 5. Julian Bream “Spanish Guitar Recital” (1982-3, RCA)

Recorded in the guitarist’s favourite setting: Wardour Chapel in Wiltshire. The sound of someone at the peak of their powers, playing gorgeous music they obviously love, in somewhere they feel utterly at home. A heartwarming bowl of chickpea stew.


6. Yes “Awaken” (from the album “Going for the One” Virgin, 1977)

On which Rick Wakeman plays the organ of St Martin’s church, Vevey, Switzerland, 1976.



 7. Sigur Ros “Heima” (DVD, 2009)

Bit of a cheat this, as it’s a film rather than an audio recording, but this is a genuinely inspiring document of the Icelandic band’s 2006-2007 tour of their home country, playing in fish factories, village halls, caves, festivals, and coffee shops. Epic and intimate. Rye-bread and crowberries.


 8. Michelle Shocked “Texas Campfire Tapes” (1986, Cooking Vinyl)

Recorded on a Sony Walkman in a field at the 1986 Kerrville Folk Festival, this album captures the songwriting charm and wit of the pre-success Michelle Shocked. The compression of the cassette recording, the fact that it runs slightly too fast, the relaxed performance, the crickets and the passing trucks all help make this a fascinating record of an emerging talent.

(Originally it was released and marketed in the UK as a field recording of a new talent without Shocked’s permission which led to her eventually releasing her own expanded version in 2003 as the Texas Campfire Takes on her own Mighty Sound label, cleaned up and with the speed corrected.)

9. Daisy Bulwer, Walter Bulwer and Scan Tester “Click Go The Shears” (recorded 1966)

This is a fairly random choice, being one of tens of thousands of folk music field recordings in the British Library’s archive. Recorded at the Bulwer’s house in Shipham in Norfolk by Bill Leader, a traditional english tune played on piano, fiddle and concertina. The recording starts and ends with the performers chatting, the music seeming like an extension of the conversation, played for no one but themselves.



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