13 June 2018

Edward - Yr Arwerthwr (EP)

Welsh folk with a glint in its eye

Label: Sain
Year of Release: 1970

Well, here's a thing. Sain is a rather collectible and sought-after indie label, and has found its tracks compiled by many keen students of vinyl esoterica. Edward, though - or Edward M Jones to give him his full title - has always been strangely absent from modern Welsh language tracklistings everywhere.

That's perhaps understandable in one sense, as the music he created was frequently jaunty rather than deep and maudlin, and had a spring in its step without being particularly psychedelic or hippified. You could call his work a bit "square", even. Yet at the time, Edward was actually quite a significant figure in Welsh music, actually releasing a joint EP with the sixties Welsh superstar Mary Hopkin, with the pair even holding hands on the sleeve. Perhaps even more importantly than that, depending on your point of view, he also recorded children's Welsh language albums with Dafydd Iwan, then the president of Plaid Cymru.

So far as I can discern from the sleeve here,  he was - and presumably still is - also a Welsh nationalist and keen promoter of the Welsh language, which was also a large part of his dayjob with his young pupils as a teacher at Yshgol Cymraeg Bryntaf school in Cardiff.

The "Yr Arwethrwr EP", then, is cheerful, a little bit cheap sounding, but impossible not to find warming even if it is utterly ruddy impossible to work out what he's on about if you don't speak a scrap of Welsh. Perhaps that's why my favourite track is "Swansi 254", which seems to be about getting your music played on local radio. The snatches of English in the lyrics bring a fleeting humorous sense to it, a narrative you can almost follow.

Edward's last vinyl release seemed to be in 1975, with an EP entitled "Aros, Edrych, Gwrando!" (or "Stop, Look and Listen!") which, predictably enough, appeared to be focused on teaching children to cross the road in Welsh. I can find no trace of what happened to him after that, though some of his records with Dafydd Iwan seemed to be commercially available until well into the nineties.

1. Yr Arwerthwr (The Auctioneer)
2. Y Lleuad (The Moon)
3. Swansea 254
4. Eu Hiaith A Gadwant (Their Language They Shall Keep)

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